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The Thief's Journal

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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,722 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
The Thief's Journal is perhaps Jean Genet's most authentically autobiographical novel, personifying his quest for spiritual glory through the pursuit of evil. Writing in the intensely lyrical prose style that is his trademark, the man Jean Cocteau dubbed France's "Black Prince of Letters" here reconstructs his early adult years - time he spent as a petty criminal and vagab ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published February 2nd 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1949)
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Richard Average Genet answers that question when he says " my excitement is the oscillation from one to the other". Genet is a true homosexual, not merely the…moreGenet answers that question when he says " my excitement is the oscillation from one to the other". Genet is a true homosexual, not merely the hedonist, libertine or debauchee who pursues pleasure for its own sake. His quest, both erotic and philosophical, is to bring to light the opposites which exist sometimes like a coiled spring within. When he succeeds, whether through language or action, he is the wonder-struck witness reveling in awe and delight at the volcano I will call mortal man. In the beginning he says " I was hot for crime." Allowing a modicum of humor one might also say that 'he was hot for irony'. (less)

Community Reviews

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Sophie
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Το ανώτερο και όχι το κατώτερο μυαλό υπάρχει κίνδυνος να σκανδαλιστεί από το ύφος αυτού του βιβλίου. Δεν επιδιώκω το σκάνδαλο. Βάζω σε μια τάξη αυτές τις σημειώσεις για να τις βρουν ορισμένοι νεαροί. Θα προτιμούσα να τις θεωρήσουν παρακαταθήκη μιας ασκητικής από τις δύσκολες. Χαρίζει μια απειρία οδυνηρή που εγώ ακόμα δεν την έχω ολοκληρώσει. Τι σημασία έχει ότι ξεκίνησε σαν μυθιστορηματική ονειροπόληση, αφού εγώ την επεξεργάζομαι με την ίδια αυστηρότητα που θα έβαζα για να λύσω ένα μαθηματικό π
...more
Tosh
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt one in a proper life needs to be obsessed with the early Kinks, a love of Howlin' Wolf, read the entire works of Oscar Wilde, to know that there is a big difference between Brian Jones era Rolling Stones to the current Ron Wood years, the love of Charles Shaw brand of wine, and this novel by Jean Genet.

It's a must for every young man and woman to read as a teenager. For old men like me it brings a tear to my eye. And why is it that?

There is something so incredibly romantic about
...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
'The Thief's Journey' is the journey into the strange and unique mind of Jean Genete; itinerant tramp and erstwhile novelist, the poetry of his prose beautifies the banality and brutality of its subject, of theft, violence, betrayal and murder, the depraved world of thieves, pimps and would-be murderers which Genete feels drawn to and is able to find beauty in-or rather, Genet is able to transmute his life and ideas, which upend and contradict normal concepts of herosim, love and beauty, via his ...more
Emily
Dec 11, 2015 marked it as to-read-maybe
When Fred Sonic Smith told Patti Smith he would take her anywhere in the world, she chose the prison in French Guiana that Genet regretted he was never sent to. Reading Genet is the first of many vain efforts to be half as interesting as Patti Smith.
Marri
Jan 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
I started out enthusiastic, enticed, and indeed won over by Jean Genet's prose. But the prose only gets more convoluted, and without a clear narrative to boulster it, this collapses under my expectations and hopes for it. I wonder if to read it again in the future would be to take more from it, but I find myself looking forward to the end of it and generally disappointed by my reading. I wanted the nitty-gritty details of the criminal life with the autobiographical clarity of 'Down and Out in Pa ...more
Mariel
Dec 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: I am hated for loving
Recommended to Mariel by: pretty little angel
"I dared not even notice the beauty of this part of the world- unless it were to look for the secret of this beauty, the imposture behind it, of which one will be a victim if he trusts it. By refusing it, I discovered poetry."

I'm saddened (embarrassed, too) by my two previous attempts to "review" Jean Genet. I don't feel as finger twisted (hah! My hands will never move in harmony with my thoughts) as those other times. So I don't have his poetry. The Thief's Journal spoke to me. Not urgently. I'
...more
Nihan E.
"Eğer derin bir yapıt, korkunç bir biçimde kendi içine batmış bir insanın haykırışıysa, insanların
bu yapıttan uzaklaşmaları hayırlıdır," demiş yazar. Bu biraz insanların kötü olanı görmemezlikten gelip, üç maymunu oynamasına benziyor. Bunun neresi hayırlıdır ve gerçekçi midir bilinmez ama bu kitabın sizin önyargılarınızı ve size öğretilen onca "iyi şey"i silkip atabileceği bir gerçek.

Çocukluğunu yetiştirme yurtlarında, gençliğini ise sokaklarda hırsızlık ve fahişelik yaparak geçirmiş bir adamın
...more
Miglė
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Labai poetiškas, savo amoralumu besididžiuojantis (ir ne be reikalo!) pasakojimas

---
1) Paprastai personažai, kurie vadinami moraliai ambivalentiškais, būna ne ką įdomesni negu viešųjų ryšių agentūros administruojama kokio politiko facebook anketa. Jų moralinis ambivalentiškumas pasireiškia pagal kelias formules: "vagiu iš turtuolių, kad išmaitinčiau savo vaikelius", "aš skriaudžiu žmones, bet tik objektyviai blogus žmones", "aš maištininkas ir dėjau ant visuomenės, kuri manimi nesirūpina, bet re
...more
Петър Панчев
Да възвеличаеш позора, да откриеш естественото
Цялото ревю тук: http://knijenpetar.blogspot.bg/2015/1...

Никак, ама никак не съжалявам, че си причиних тази книга. Сякаш бях прелюбодеец, изтръгнал сърце и душа от тялото си, поканен на поход към низостта и извращението, но в свят на благочестие и преданост, какъвто Жан Жьоне боготвори с някаква непосилна за хора в неговото положение радост. Изстисках максимално от чувството си за приличие, но не посмях да разкрася различно в ума си тази трагедия, д
...more
Tocotin
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is like meeting an old, irritating, but oddly captivating acquaintance. I read this book when I was still in junior high, and remembered it quite vividly for all those years.

The narrative and descriptive parts of the book are interesting and intense. The philosophy, not so much. First, it’s already dated, with its concept of homosexuality as the act of defiance of the rules of society, and as the embracing of sin and darkness.

And then, it’s quite obvious that Genet invented that philosophy
...more
ماهرعبد الرحمن
مضيت من المناظر الطبيعية في الريف، إلى منطقة صخرية حادة تنطح السماء وتمزق لونها اللازوردي. هذا العوز الخبيث الأعجف القاسي الذي يزدري رقتي وإنسانيتي، أغواني أن أكون قاسياً. وأصبحت أقل وحدة حين اكتشفت في الطبيعة إحدى صفاتي الأساسية : الفخر وأردت أن أكون صخرة وسط الصخور، آنذاك سأغدو سعيداً وفخوراً، لأني سأتحد بالأرض وألتحق برفاقي، فأنا أعرف مملكة المعادن. سنتصدى للريح والمطر والصدمات.
Conor
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Might be sacrilege to say it, but Genet is sort of a one-trick pony. He trades on the wholesome, just as the physically imposing and masculine depredate on him. He has a lot of sex and cadges drinks, viatica, and places to stay. All of this is done in a disorientatingly fluid manner.

Not enough variety or substance for me to feel invested in the plot, but I'm glad I gave him two shots.
Mark
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fictionalized autobiography of Jean Genet's career as a petty thief in the 1930s, part of a series of works that self-analyze Genet's life and his impressions of who he is/was and what he did to meet the exigent requirements of survival and find "meaning" in living as an outlaw. The life depicted is strikingly at odds with the startlingly lucid and vibrant prose, calling into question all assumptions generally made about those we normally judge as ignominious.

Samuel R. Delany has in his works ma
...more
Michael
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Morality is overrated. If you're beauty is you, then context is only "lice" on the cake.
Özlem Güzelharcan

Hırsızlık, erdem, toplum, eşcinsellik, korkular, politika..
Jean Genet'nin (ve aslında hepimizin) iç dünyasına muhteşem bir yolculuk. En sevdiklerimden.
L.
Mar 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
Skondensowana grafomańska egzaltacja. Przypuszczam, że to obowiązkowa lektura w piekle, bo czytanie tej książki to Tortura Ostateczna.
Davisson Alves
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Entre a narrativa e o fluxo de consciência. Fragmentado, entre uma ideia e outra, pontas soltas. Um livro difícil de gostar pela estrutura e pelas ideias do autor sobre crime, submissão e homossexualidade.
Кремена Михайлова
„Измяната, кражбата и хомосексуализмът са основните теми на тази книга. Между тях съществува връзка. Тя невинаги е явна, но все пак ми се струва, че има някаква съдова скаченост между вкуса ми към измяната и кражбата и любовните ми истории.“

„За да мога не аз да оградя Люсиен с щастие, а той да излъчва щастие, искам да го обработя според образа, който сам съм подготвил, донесъл, нахвърлял чрез собствените си приключения. Така малко по малко ще го свикна да ги разбира, да знае, че те са ме замесил
...more
Tyler
Feb 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Adults; Fans of Edgy Literature
Recommended to Tyler by: Various Reviews
Shelves: gay-interest
This semi-autobiographical account of the time in the 1930's Jean Genet lived on the streets of Barcelona, Antwerp and Paris depicts his quest for psychic survival, helped by consciously embracing a set of anti-values. Rejecting a world that rejects him, Genet tells us ...the greater my guilt, the more totally assumed, the greater my freedom.

What's unusual, besides the whole book, is Genet's particular trinity of anti-values: treachery, theft and homosexuality. He doesn't just live them passivel
...more
James
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
I hear many voices in this thief's literary performance. Here is one: "I no longer know what I thought, but I remember that I offered all my woes to God. In my solitude remote from men, I came quite close to being all love, all devotion. . . Creating is not a somewhat frivolous game. The creator has committed himself to the fearful adventure of taking upon himself, to the very end, the perils risked by his creatures. We cannot suppose a creation that does not spring from love. How can a man plac ...more
Ian
Dec 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pope Benedict XVI
Shelves: literature
The Thief's Journal is, in a superficial way, a story of darkness, drudgery, and the appreciation of beauty that underlies the filth of society, told by a traveling thief and vagrant whose shadowy encounters would put Senator Larry Craig to shame. On a different level, it is an inversion of the morals and structures of Western society by which the scoundrels, pimps, homosexuals, murderers, trannies, and litterbugs of Europe are transformed into saints who reject the modern order and its boring w ...more
Victoris
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I clearly remember how this book got to my reading list: I was deeply interested in the absurd literature, and Jenet's drama tradition is definitely related to the genre. Nevertheless, I've decided to start my acquaintance with this charming author from his fictionalized autobiography.
I have mixed emotions about this book. It's a great piece of reading, as Jenet's writing is juicy, flawless and elegant. Despite the amount of provocative description of his homosexual crushes and affairs, there's
...more
Monty
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
There's basically one theme in this book: young Genet's quest to invent a new morality ennobling homosexuality, theft and treason; making them "the holy trinity", the highest virtues. After 200 some odd pages this theme gets a bit old but the book is still a pleasure to read for it's luxuriously depraved and poetic prose.
Genet brings his criminal lovers to life with character portraits full of religious adoration, bringing to mind Henry Miller on one of his manic sprees. It's a fascinating cast
...more
Mr.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Jean Genet's absorbing work of literary autobiography traverses the boundaries of genre with stunning ingenuity and imagination. This work is in some ways similar to Capote's use of the so-called "non-fiction novel," in that it recalls apparently true events through the lens of fiction. This is the reflection of a petty thief, and vagabond. Genet is a young man wandering Europe and immersing himself in a world of crime and depravity. He fuses his homosexuality with nefarious hooliganism to play ...more
Alex Hogan
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay, classic
This book opened my eyes to how the world is viewed by different classes. It made me realise I was viewing the world from my comfortable middle class home. Jean Genet talks of his childhood and his life of crime and how differently he viewed it to the way we did. He showed how the laws of a country are made by the middle classes to protect the middle classes and so are only observed by the middle classes. If you live outside that middle class world the laws no longer are relevant to you and so t ...more
Samelu   Binumcole
Being an autobiography, this book is not really loaded with
tension. It is however loaded with lyricism and an approach
to aesthetics which, if they can be applied to a life of thievery,
prostitution, betrayal, lice, burglary, captivity and innumerable
humiliations: then whatever life you are living probably is not
so bad after all. For me, this book was: part prime time existential
storytelling, part colorful romanticism, and slightly less captivating
then I had imagined it would be. I dived int
...more
Robert Wilson
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Years ago when I was a younger man I read this book because I liked what a friend of mine said. "Read this book and it will f*ck up your life." Frankly Genet finds the beauty in evil, poverty, illness (both mental and physical) and the emptiness in life.

It's not an easy read, and at times shocking. My friend was right. This is a book of great importance because it will "f*ck your life" by making you challenge your beliefs on what is "right" and what is "wrong."

Genet's whores, thieves, murders a
...more
Temz
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Роден през 1910 без установен произход, изоставен от майка си, обвинен в кражба още на 10-годишна възраст и изпратен в изправителна колония, станал част за кратко към Френския чуждестранен легион, автор на пет романа и няколко пиеси, три от които преведени на български и изключително активен политически, Жьоне представлява един от най-противоречивите образи на литературата, а „Дневник на крадеца” е четиво, което смело бих нарекла предшественик на бийт-обществото. Спечелил одобрението на писатели ...more
Mike
Nov 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Genet's masterpiece. Combined with Sarte's "Saint Genet", this book changed the way I understand art and how it works. This books is important for anyone who wants to understand evil and it's relationship to creativity, as well as the moral ambiguity of beauty.

Genet's writing is very dense and forces you into abstraction, I found myself rereading very often. It's not an immediately accessible book and I found it philosophically complex, but incredibly rewarding. I would recommend that anyone int
...more
Andrew
It's always been rather modish to lavish approval on Jean Genet-- if you dig transgressive fiction, Genet's going to be your guy, as most flamingly gay, ex-con, ex-homeless, left-wing French writers who hobnobbed with Black Panthers are bound to be. But aside from the fact that it is a TRANSGRESSIVE FRENCH NOVEL almost to the point of parody, it's still a well-written account of a forgotten subterranean world. RIYL William S. Burroughs and Gus Van Sant.
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Sartre quote? 1 9 Oct 30, 2013 09:59AM  
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607 followers
Jean Genet was a prominent, controversial French writer and later political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing novels, plays, poems, and essays, including Querelle de Brest, The Thief's Journal, Our Lady of the Flowers, The Balcony, The Blacks and The Maids.
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“I could not take lightly the idea that people made love without me.” 75 likes
“Erotic play discloses a nameless world which is revealed by the nocturnal language of lovers. Such language is not written down. It is whispered into the ear at night in a hoarse voice. At dawn it is forgotten.” 31 likes
More quotes…