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Funeral Rites

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  792 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Genet's sensual and brutal portrait of World War II unfolds between the poles of his grief for his lover Jean, killed in the Resistance during the liberation of Paris, and his perverse attraction to the collaborator Riton. Elegaic, macabre, chimerical, Funeral Rites is a dark meditation on the mirror images of love and hate, sex and death.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 18th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1949)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lover's death is more than a merely emotional loss: it leaves us filled with physical desires now made insatiable by the lack of their object.
All the erotic attraction, sexual pulsions, secret needs that drew us toward THAT person are still there, permeating our psyche as well as our body. Death suddenly deprives them of the possibility to find their natural way out.
And their way out leads to a body.

We might love the soul, but what we truly desire is the body. Because we are earthly
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the great works of twentieth century literature. Does anyone know why the Bernard Frechtman translation is abridged, omitting crucial scenes? I have the Black Cat press version, published '69, maybe the Grove Press rectifies the wrong.

Genet's life project was to lift the poisionous veil of bourgeois/religious values from sexual love, in some of the most lyrical passages ever written in French prose.

Most of this book is a series of sexual encounters between French resistance fighters,
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
...when I returned alone from the morgue, darkness had set in. As I walked up the Rue de la Chausée-d'Antin, swimming on waves of sadness and grief and thinking about death, I raised my head and saw a huge stone angel, dark as night, looming up at the end of the street. Three seconds later, I realized it was the bulk of the Church of the Trinity, but for three seconds I had felt the horror of my condition, of my poor helplessness in the presence of what seemed in the darkness (and less in the
Jeffrey Round
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Funeral Rites by Jean Genet (Grove Press, trans. by Frechtman, 1969)

This, Genet's last novel, is my favourite of the five. So much so that I adapted it into a play that so far has never been staged. The story is brilliant, sadistic and horrific, and the writing luminous, finding its voice in the richly resonant theatre of World War II, as the narrator mourns the death of his young lover at the hands of French traitors while Paris is being liberated from the Germans. With its inverted
Sarah Jaffe
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's not easy reading--Genet never is and this is him at his most difficult, his daring you the hardest to judge him. But I needed this right now.
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Mourning is the gesture of recognition to the collapse of a lesser solar system. Genet is a shape shifter and this novel is a map of those people affected by, or related to the death of his lover. In order to cope with his grief, he imagines the interiors of the cast of souls related to the departed, among them the executioner, in Nazi occupied France. Genet veers from perspective to perspective, unannounced, desperately searching for a form or a logic of behavior where there has been left a ...more
Nov 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: have
If I were to base my rating off of literary talent alone, this book deserves more stars than are available. However, I'm only giving it three stars because aside from the stellar prose, I really didn't care for Funeral Rites.

It's a bit confusing. The first half reminded me a bit of Sebold's Austerlitz due to the lack of "easy" breaks.

The stream of consciousness makes Genet's prose at times difficult to follow. There were times I had to flip back to understand the shifts from present action to
Christopher Jones
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jean Genet set a magnificent precedent, you cannot deny his genius Neil Bartlett’s introduction to Funeral Rites was spot on , he too is my hero ! ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: musings
It's difficult to describe the experiece of reading this text. It's so imaginatively rich, so personally intense and oddly, considering the subject matter, sincere. It seems to me that he takes high Baroque Catholic sentiment and uses it to describe things that no-one is supposed to describe because the experiences are deemed to be outside of "normal" moral behaviour. Yet he manages to transcend the disgust attached to these experiences and produces a prose of luminous beauty. The translation at ...more
George K. Ilsley
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read, fiction, gay
My first contact with Genet was the cover of this book sighted at a used book store. The cover shot of Genet, forlorn with his hands in his pockets, somehow caused a ping on the brand-new gaydar. I bought the book, and read it, and read it a few more times, and then always looked for more. Oh, Genet, I still chuckle thinking of you on assignment from Esquire being sent to Chicago to cover the Democratic National Convention and hanging out with the Black Panthers. None of that is in this ...more
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
My, I read a lot of French literature (in translation) this summer - this one came from Josh Feldman's giveaway pile at last year's NYC Marathon party, but I only got to it after some improbable stylistic comparison emerged to someone else I had recently read - Clarice Lispector perhaps? Whoever it was, they certainly weren't offering 300 pages of rough trade sex that make William Burroughs seem circumspect. As such, it seemed long at times, but the master-slave dialectic of German soldiers in ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a trip. Gorgeous, each sentence a work of art, yet so cumbersome to read as a whole... it begs reading again but it's so abstract I'm exhausted. It is brilliant in bringing together death and love, horror and beauty. All the while fitting erotic fantasy into every possible train of thought. But a chapter break here and there would have made it more comprehensible.
Nov 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
One can't get better then Genet. A heartbreaking book on one hand and yet a reflection on the nature of evil on the other. Love is important in Genet's world, but it is also a journey of sorts from the darkest part of the heart to the other side. If you can get to the other side that is...
Sep 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
Read this book while in college it was a part of two different classes.One was prison lit the other was gay lit. Seeing that i went to a Catholic college and both classes were taught by nuns I was shocked.An interesting book but very dark indeed.
Sep 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-re-read
Read it, wait twenty years and read it again. Brilliant. This book is vital, sublime, this book is perfect.
Feb 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Just re-reread it. Destroys me every single time.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
DNF @ 145. Disappointed to learn the Thief's Journal is an anomaly. None of his other books appear to be on the same level. Just meandering and boring provocations. All the same themes are covered in the Journal but with more electrifying prose. The inhabiting of his fantasies as characters is a really interesting technique for stitching a novel together but he doesn't make it work. Our Lady is the same book but even more boring than this. It is a stack of pages that you just read, you don't ...more
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
Matt Dowdy
“I puke on my white feet, at the foot of the tomb which is my unclothed body.”
Bryson Rand
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Favorite Genet novel! Very moving and twisted
Going to leave off putting a rating on this one. It was either a meh stream of consciousness reflection on loss, love, lust, and war or an evocative bit of poetic prose meant to put the reader in the emotional headspace of a grieving French writer. So somewhere between 3 and 5 stars but probably not a 4.

This was my first entree into Genet's works, and it certainly leaves me open to ready some of his better known novels.

Best read over the course of a lazy day in the fall. Coming back and forth
Mar 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
A friend of mine called Jean Genet "a dirty little Frenchman" and although he's so much more it's an incredibly good description of him. This is a long lament for Jean's lover who was killed in German occupied France during WWII.

This was Genet's last novel and is a brutal, erotic, and disturbing look at the Resistance movement in Paris. It explores the themes of sex and death tirelessly and the thin line between love and hate. Gender and political lines are blurred in the relationships and
As I so often write here, it's been a long time since I read this. Nonetheless, it's a no-brainer that Genet is, for me, a very important writer. There was a time when I lived in an apartment w/ only 8 key bks. "Funeral Rites", or something else by Genet, was one of them. The clear thinking & blatant perversion as a political act are right up my conceptual alley even if Genet & I are very different personalities otherwise. I'm happy to say that I still haven't read "Querelle" yet so ...more
Jan 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Totally brilliant. Six stars if I had another. Somehow in his meandering and indeterminate narrative, in which sexuality and male homosocial behavior are generally at the forefront, Genet offers stunning insight into the rituals surrounding death and mourning and gets to the very heart of what loyalty means, in death, love and war. In this book "about" occupied Paris during World War II, Genet enacts the complete obliteration of empty nationalism, showing human violence for what it is.
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
i know i know. finally i've read another book. and well. this book was quite easy to read in a short time and a terrific book to read alone at a bar. actually, probably the only way to read this book. so if you've got some of that kind of time on your hands and want to read some excellent prose, pick it up.
Aug 16, 2007 rated it liked it
didn't finish this one, but i plan to come back to it soon. the story didn't really grab me, but there's definitely something there... i wish i could be more specific but i guess i can't. also, the translation is amazing. i don't speak french, but i've rarely read a translation that is such confident prose in its own right.
Genet's lament for a dead lover told during the final days of Nazi occupation of Paris. The story winds its way in and out of fantasy in dreamlike ways, obsessed with eros and thanatos: the imagery is captivating and uncanny. Genet was a convicted murderer and avowed homosexual so not for all tastes.
Chris Landry
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I had to bail on this. I feel like I appreciate things that I imagine it might have influenced (The Beautiful Losers perhaps?) more than it. I liked the elliptical style and the transgression of it all but it truly got tedious toward the midway point.
R.K. Byers
Sep 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
this guy is ONE SICK DUDE! i'm gonna keep reading him, tho. he's good.
Juliette Jones
Aug 03, 2010 is currently reading it
So far... I'm just not sure. I have read several books in between what would be chapters of this book, if there were actually chapters. That might be the problem. I hate no chapters...
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Jean Genet (1910-1986), poet, novelist, playwright, and political essayist, was one of the most significant French writers of the twentieth century. His work, much of it considered scandalous when it first appeared, is now placed among the classics of modern literature and has been translated and performed throughout the world.
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“...the characters in my books all resemble each other. They live, with minor variations, the same moments, the same perils, and when I speak of them, my language, which is inspired by them, repeats the same poems in the same tone.” 7 likes
“I am his tomb. The earth is nothing. Dead. Staves and orchards issue from my mouth. His. Perfume my chest, which is wide, wide open. A greengage plum swells his silence. The bees escape from his eyes, from his sockets where the liquid pupils have flowed from under the flaccid eyelids. To eat a youngster shot on the barricades, to devour a young hero, is no easy thing. We all love the sun. My mouth is bloody. So are my fingers. I tore the flesh to shreds with my teeth. Corpses do not usually bleed. His did.” 6 likes
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