Read Santa María de las Flores by Jean Genet Online

santa-mara-de-las-flores

Un recluso en una celda. En la pared el reglamento de la cárcel. En el dorso del reglamento, pegadas con migas de pan, unas veinte fotos de asesinos recortadas de la prensa; para los más puramente criminales, un marcho hecho con cuentas en forma de estrella: Y en honor de los crímenes de todos ellos escribo este libro. Jean Genet escribió Santa María de las Flores, primeraUn recluso en una celda. En la pared el reglamento de la cárcel. En el dorso del reglamento, pegadas con migas de pan, unas veinte fotos de asesinos recortadas de la prensa; para los más puramente criminales, un marcho hecho con cuentas en forma de estrella: Y en honor de los crímenes de todos ellos escribo este libro. Jean Genet escribió Santa María de las Flores, primera novela, en 1942, en la prisión de Fresnes, y la escribió, para hechizo de mi celda, y secretamente, para comprobar cuál puede ser el método mejor [...] para no sucumbir también al horror; llegado el momento.. En este espacio donde el preso espera con terror su juicio y su condena, se conjuran, pues sólo golfos de la peor calaña, héroes sin heroismo alguno que les pueda conferir alguna nobleza, santos siempre obligados a amar lo que aborrecen. Genet entró en la mitología y en la poesía del siglo XX con esta novela....

Title : Santa María de las Flores
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788484282204
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Santa María de las Flores Reviews

  • Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο Αμούν Arnum
    2019-04-21 16:17

    Μια δοξολογία έκπτωτων αγγέλων στο μεγαλείο της ανδρικής φύσης. Ωδή στη φύση-παραφύση και ποίηση γραμμένη απο ανδρικά χέρια με γυναικείες σκέψεις,ηδονές και οδύνες. Αυτό το βιβλίο κατατάσσεται αμέσως στο θεατρικό πλάνο του παραλόγου με ρεαλισμό,ωμότητα,φρίκη,αηδία,θαυμασμό,ξεπεσμό και πλήθος εγκληματικών πράξεων κάθε μορφής,κάθε σχέσης,κάθε τυπικής οικογενειακής και κοινωνικής ευθύνης. Όλη η ιστορία καταγράφεται μέσα απο τη φυλακή. Ο Ζαν ένας ονειροπόλος ομοφυλόφιλος,τρυφερός και σιχαμερά γλαφυρός περιγράφει την ιστορία της ζωής του ανακατεύοντας γεγονότα,φαντασία,καταστάσεις,νοσταλγίες,όνειρα,πουλημένες συνειδήσεις,αγορασμένο έρωτα και παρακαταθήκες βρομερών πραξεων εγέγγυων πίστης και λατρείας σε νταβατζήδες ανυπόστατης ανδρείας αλλά πιστοποιημένης ανοχής και εκστατικής ηδονής. Θυσίες στο βωμό του φαλλού..και ιερές τελετές ανήθικων πλασμάτων που εκκλησιάζονται στο ναό του περιθωρίου σε έναν μιαρό Θεό.Δημιουργός μιας δικής του κατηγορίας θεϊκών πλασμάτων που λατρεύονται και λοιδορούνται τόσο όσο διαρκεί μια ερωτική κορύφωση.Πλάσματα στολισμένα με ψεύτικα λουλούδια που μαραίνονται και πανάκριβα αρώματα που βρομάνε. Πλάσματα ντυμένα με γυναικεία ρούχα και ψεύτικα κοσμήματα που γυαλίζουν σαν σπασμένα γυαλιά ποτηριών μέσα σε υπόγεια μπαρ απο φθηνά ποτά και σωματικά υγρά. Πλάσματα δίχως φύλο και ταυτότητα.Με μπερδεμένα γενετήσια ένστικτα και χαμένες ψυχές. Καταδικασμένα αρχικά απο την οικογένεια και τελικά απο όλη την κοινωνία σε έναν θάνατο ζωντανό και μνησίκακο. Σε μια ανάταση παράλογα πνευματική και σε μια κατάντια τόσο θλιβερή που γίνεται σπουδαία και ιερή. Ο Ζαν μας περιγράφει με ανατριχιαστικές λεπτομέρειες και βιωματικές θύμησες ιστορίες που δεν έχουν αρχή έχουν μόνο τέλος. Ιστορίες που αρχικά ξεκινούν όμορφα και το τέλος δεν έρχεται ποτέ επειδή χάνει το δρόμο του μέσα σε λαβύρινθους επακόλουθων ιστοριών,παραληρηματικών συνειρμών και αδιάφορων ποιητικών απαγγελιών σε μια ελεγεία φιλοσοφίας,αγάπης και λύπης. Τραγουδάει ενα θρησκευτικό άσμα με πρωταγωνιστές τη Θεά(τραβεστί)τον Μινιόν μικρά ποδαράκια(μοιραίο άνδρα και νταβατζή κάθε είδους και έννοιας)την Παναγία των λουλουδιών(νεαρό,τρυφερό,ανισόρροπο εγκληματία)τον Γκαμπριέλ την ερωμένη,τις Μιμόζες, τους Πρίγκιπες του πρωκτού,κάποιον νέγρο εραστή με έντονη κακοσμία, κάποιον Κορσικανό λοποδύτη και πολλούς άλλους που εμπλέκονται σε αυτό το υπερθέαμα στοχασμών,παραλληλισμών και πολλαπλών αξιόλογων και ολοζώντανων περιγραφών της ανδρικής φύσης... σε σημείο εγκωμιαστικού κορεσμού. Πρώτη μου (παραφύση) επαφή με τον συγγραφέα και θα τολμήσω να πω πως χάθηκα στον ουρανό του, αναγούλιασα με τη «γλύκα» του,μπούχτισα με το ντελίριο του,εντάχθηκα σε γνωστικές λειτουργίες και αντιλήψεις,συνυπήρχα σε ψευδαισθήσεις,παραισθήσεις,ερωτικές εκρήξεις,συναισθηματικές αστάθειες,βίαιες συμπεριφορές και ενδοκρινικές διαταραχές. Παρόλα ταύτα 4/5* τα αξίζει. Κατά την ταπεινή μου άποψη. Καλή ανάγνωση. Πολλούς ασπασμούς!

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-04-06 14:25

    “The despondency that follows makes me feel somewhat like a shipwrecked man who spies a sail, sees himself saved, and suddenly remembers that the lens of his spyglass has a flaw, a blurred spot -- the sail he has seen.” I think everybody who tries to write a review about Our Lady of the Flowers starts out confounded, befuddled, muddled as to where to start because for one thing Genet's writing style has jumbled up the coherent, organized part of your brain.I was fortunate that the edition I chose to read included the Jean-Paul Sartre introduction. I'm sometimes on the fence about introductions, especially long introductions, Sartre's intro is 49 pages, because I think sometimes they suck the life out of the novel before you even have a chance to read the first page. Many introductions also assume that the reader has read the book previously. I took a chance mainly because I like Sartre and he did a wonderful job of preparing me for what I was about to experience.This book is an ode to onanistic activities or in other words masturbation. To be more specific this is a collection of fantasies that Genet wrote while in prison to help him achieve a chain of orgasms. Yes there are explicitly written parts, but do not categorize this book as pornography or a book of cheap thrills. Genet writes such lush, evocative scenes that the sex that may or may not occur is immaterial. Really this is about passion. This is about Genet making love to himself. The characters that flow through this novel from Divine, to Darling, to Our Lady of the Flowers, to Mimosa are all just derivatives of himself. He uses shells of ultra masculine males, gypsies, thieves, and beautiful young boys, that he has cut out of magazines, to fulfill his sexual fantasies, but underneath in the hollow parts of their bodies they are Jean Genet. "When she talks to herself about Darling, Divine says, clasping her hands in thought: I worship him. When I see him lying naked, I feel like saying mass on his chest." We all hope that we can experience a moment where someone feels this way about us. For Jean Genet these characters sprang from his imagination fully formed as the perfect, flawed lovers that his mind could move about like furniture building up fantasies that ultimately leads to his satisfaction. Our Lady of the Flowers by Miriam Laufer"Darling's life is an underground heaven thronged with barmen, pimps, queers, ladies of the night, and Queens of Spades, but his life is a heaven. He is voluptuary. He knows all the cafes in Paris where the toilets have seats. To do a good job, he says, I've got to be sitting down. He walks for miles, preciously carrying in his bowels the desire to shit, which he will gravely deposit in the mauve tiled toilets of the Cafe Terminus at the Saint-Lazare station."I thought this was a good example of Genet talking about something most of us never want or need to talk about and yet when I read this I had to stop and read it again and again because it is a beautiful statement about one of the most base things that we all are required by our design to perform. Yet he jolts us by uses the coarse word shit which is quickly softened with the word mauve. He has made taking a crap a pilgrimage, an event, that the character Darling will cherish, and look forward to consummating. And consuming. “I wanted to swallow myself by opening my mouth very wide and turning it over my head so that it would take in my whole body, and then the Universe, until all that would remain of me would be a ball of eaten thing which little by little would be annihilated: that is how I see the end of the world.” I've never read anything like this. There are flashes of Genet in the stream of consciousness of the Beat writers, certainly Thomas Pynchon had read Genet before writing Gravity's Rainbow. The surprising part of the book is how accessible it is. This book was compelling to read and even though some of the twists and turns left me dazed and confused I just let it wash over me and continued on.

  • William1
    2019-03-29 17:18

    Nothing if not hypnotic. Genet's prose is entirely unpredictable and he does something here I wouldn't have thought possible or feasible or even desirable. He takes all these Parisian homosexuals (his word), some of them evildoers -- murderers, thieves, prostitutes, assorted toughs -- though not necessarily evil people, it's just that like all of us they are capable of evil and from time to time actually commit it -- and he raises them to near saintly levels. That's how big his empathy is. It's extraordinary. Jean-Paul Sartre in his introduction calls it a "masturbatory" novel undertaken simply to excite Genet during a long, boring incarceration at Fresnes Prison in 1942. This is no doubt true of the earlier drafts, which had long passages of graphic homosex. I don't think it's as true of the final text, which is no more pornographic than, say,Lady Chatterley's Lover orUlysses. On the most immediate level one might declare that Genet's characters are never denied their fundamental humanity, or something equally grandiose. But that's hedging of course. Actually, I'm not sure how he does it. I may have to chalk it up to genius, but that will require at least one more reading. He subverts religion, in this case Catholicism, and uses it to build his own special transposed morality, in which murderers are saints and prostitutes angels. Crimes are committed for bizarre existential reasons. As when Divine let's a little neighborhood girl fall to her death from her ninth floor balcony so she can no longer be "good." Genet plays with reader expectations as all great writers do. There's an ecstatic discursiveness to the writing, like a prose boomerang which arcs through seemingly unrelated material before returning to its point of origin in wholly unanticipated ways. I know of no one like him. The Beats are said to have greatly esteemed Genet, and one can see why. He's their urtext.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-08 21:16

    They should give Jean Genet a kids show. You know, like Sesame Street and Barney and whatever they have now -- Dora the Explorer? Jean could teach the kids outdated pimp argot instead of Spanish! But the language thing would be extra; the reason Genet gets a kids show is that the message of this book is the same as those shows': this message being the glorious imperative to use your imagination."Use your imagination!" When you think about it, it's a bit strange that there's such an emphasis on this in media for children, since they already are using their imaginations (or would be, anyway, if they weren't sitting in front of the TV). Since kids imagine things spontaneously without being told, this hysterical, unnecessary urging by the adults putting out TV probably has less to do with the children's edification than with something the adults are missing themselves. Maybe what Ernie and Barney are really saying is, "Use your imagination NOW, kid, because one day real soon, it is going to shrivel up into a flaccid and desiccated and useless old husk, and you will be serving a life sentence in a filthy French prison called Adulthood, surrounded by bedbugs, sociopaths, and the rank stench of shit. And you'll have no recourse then, and no hope for escape."This, then, in the kids' show I'm developing, provides a nice segue into the basics of how capitalism should work. See, adult, you have no imagination; you are incarcerated (so to speak) in the cramped stinking cell that is reality, from which you cannot escape because you no longer possess that once-prized power to use your imagination. Fortunately, you can benefit from the fruits of our neighbor M. Genet's vigorous labor, since he does still have an imagination, and for a nominal fee he will let you use it (and for a couple francs more, you can use something else of his, too).And this is why we read: to get out of our lives. To get out of our cells. Okay, so that's a bit overwrought, but I mean it. We need other people's books because our brains are not enough, and our own imaginations are too feeble to invent worlds that will make ourselves free. See, I bet that would've sounded less cheesy if I'd written it in French! Those bastards really do get away with a lot.Awhile ago I reviewed Jim Thompson on here, and someone on the thread wondered if he'd ever read Proust. The thought of that made my stomach lurch -- of course he didn't! gross! -- but I'm willing to bet Genet read both guys (maybe at the same time), and swallowed them in the same mouthful with no sense of dissonance.I definitely wouldn't recommend this to everyone. It's almost assaultively poetic and gorgeous while incredibly raunchy and scatological, like an overpowering bouquet of gardenias and lilacs with erect penises popping out between the petals, in a cracked crystal vase set on the back of an overflowing toilet. If you think you might be fascinated by a swooningly imaginative, lovely fever dream of a pre-pre-Stonewall, pre-pre-pre-AIDS degenerate homosexual underworld and aesthetic, then this could potentially be a book you'd enjoy. Think pimps, wigs and teacups, thieves, murderers and pearls, boxers and graveyards, news clippings of killers, and a drag ball of queens in stained nineteenth-century gowns.... Think cock after cock after huge erect cock, with paeans to farting and a few trips to Mass. There's a trial. There's a funeral. There's a lot of jacking off! Instead of furry blue monster Grover's "cooperation," M. Genet's neighborhood would emphasize the importance of "la masturbation," an almost diametrically opposite concept but one also essential for the development of young people.If I were a more artistic soul myself, I might try and put together a Geneted-out Sesame Street version, since the pimps and queens would make beautiful muppets, and the animated sequences could really be something. Our Lady of the Flowers doesn't need that, though. It doesn't need me or anyone else; we need it! Truthfully, I think I really did need Our Lady. This is the first book I've read in awhile that actually changed the way that I think; I feel like it gave me a bit of a trepanning, sort of relieved some pressure on the skull and gave my uninteresting organ some more room to breathe. I was really living in the world a bit too much, and now I'm not here if I don't need to be. Genet did remind me that I don't have to stay here, and that if things become too oppressive I can just run off to become a male prostitute and live in a Parisian garret above a cemetery with my Negro and my adolescent psychopath, and a whole lot of drugs and makeup and fake jewels. It's too bad the fascistic policies of public television would likely not allow this glorious message of freedom to be shared with a nation of tots. For now, unfortunately, this book is limited to people who have learned how to read. The good news is, you can probably buy it used for a dollar! Though I might recommend a newer edition than the one I have, which identifies itself on the cover as "A SHATTERING NOVEL OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY," which will make people look at you like you're just reading a bunch of trash. Which you are not. You're just using your imagination!

  • Jesse
    2019-03-27 22:14

    It's been weeks now, and I've been trying to figure out something, anything to say about this novel. Oh, I liked it—very much so, as my rating surely indicates—but I keep circling around and around it, desperately searching for the detail upon which to structure and make sense of my reactions. I have to admit I still haven't found it, though there's plenty that could be rhapsodized over—the cruel beauty, the unexpected possibility of transcendence, the influential, still-avant garde style. But no, I just keep returning to a single thought:This novel just doesn't give a damn about me. Honestly, I can't think of another text that is so completely disregards the reader—Genet makes no concessions, doesn't even pretend to create some kind of connection between character and reader; everything is on Genet's terms, and the reader can accept that or simply fuck off. Oh, I can certainly pretend that being gay offers me some kind of "in," but that just as quickly unmasks me for what I am, a bourgeois queer as far removed from Genet's world as anything else. I can observe, I can try to keep up; I certainly can't relate. And that's kind of the wonder and power of it: six decades on, and Genet still resists assimilation into contemporary gay culture—he'd undoubtedly mock post-Stonewall living as scathingly as he does polite French society in the first half of the 20th century. He still remains the perpetual brooding outsider. And frankly, I don't think he'd have it any other way."I was his at once, as if (who said that?) he had discharged through my mouth straight into my heart."

  • knig
    2019-04-20 20:12

    Jean Genet, the author, is serving time in 1940s Paris, and whilst awaiting sentencing begins to write, all sorts, on the back of brown paper bags: and voila: Our Lady of the Flowers is born. He would have used hundreds of these brown bags though: how did he ever get them.Genet writes to assist his masturbation (niiice), and cobbles together a patchwork quilt of personal reminiscences, fantasy, autobiographical sense data, general musings and various story threads of unascertainable veracity. The skeleton of Our Lady is framed by the multiple narrative of ostensibly one character, Jean Genet, who morphs continuously into a drag queen Divine, and Darling, his pimp. The narrative modes vacillate between ‘She’, ‘I’, and ‘He’ and it can’t be ascertained if any of the different manifestations of the same character are real or a figment of his imagination. This heightened existentialist outlay then provides the perfect vehicle for showcasing the collapse of external reality, the denouncement of a fractured society, the purported destruction of consciousness, and the multiple perspectives of that same reality.The reality being that of a coterie of homosexuals, drag queens, petty thieves, murderers, male prostitutes and pimps: probably a pretty radical read for 1940s Paris. But what really makes this lasting fiction is not so much the forays of a criminal underclass (although that DOES have a voyeuristic appeal), but rather Genet’s incredibly lyrical and imaginative word-smithing. Genet need only look at a peisage, and the quotidian becomes transformed under his linguistic auspices into strange and wonderful images. One of his victims becomes’ a corpse, lying in a glass of champagne in the middle of a Greek landscape with truncated ringed columns around which long white tapeworms were twisting and streaming like coils’. Divine loses Darling to a woman (well, only so he can be a kept man). This is how it happens: ‘When he walked by, Darling was smoking, and a slit of abandon in the woman’s hardness of soul chanced just then to be open, a slit that catches the hook cast by innocent looking objects. If one of your openings happens to be loosely fastened or a flap of your softness to be floating, you’re done for’.That has just got to be one of the most poetically rendered snapshots, ever, of love at first sight. Genet is nothing if not obligingly transgressive. We’ve all heard of the good old prose poem, and Genet indulges duly in a nonpareil one page dream sequence. It is only at the end that the realisation dawns: this whole book is one giant, eloquent, prose poem. So, is there a catch? Well, yes, for me. In as much as the whole novel is a string of loosely connected but plausibly standalone etudes, I did reach a saturation point. Unfortunately before the end. Although I did finish it, and don’t regret that I did. But, that old adage: how long is a piece of string? applies. In all the randomness of the build up, I don’t know, I guess I reached masturbatory satisfaction before Genet did..

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-04-01 20:24

    Paris, France during the 40's. Louis Culafroy, a gay boy has come out and named himself Divine. This is his story: his life as a son, male prostitute, thief, swindler, blackmailer and lover. His one true love is a pimp and a beautiful virile man called Darling Daintyfoot. Description of Darling: height, 5 ft. 9 in., weight 165 lbs., oval face, blond hair, blue-green eyes, mat complexion, perfect teeth, straight nose. Divine loves him so much that she worships Darling's cock that she has made a plaster cast of it. Description of the cock: gigantic when erect. The most impressive thing about it is the vigor, hence the beauty, of that part which goes from the anus to the tip of the penis. To Divine, Darling is everything. She takes care of his penis. Darling's penis is in itself all of Darling: the object of her pure luxury. If Divine is willing to see in her man anything other than a hot, purplish member, it is because she can follow its stiffness, which extends to the anus, and can sense that it goes farther into his body, that it is this very body of Darling erect and terminating in the pale, tired face, a face of eyes, nose, mouth, flat cheeks, curly hair, beads of sweat.. Darling loves Divine too. Darling gets a hard on even when Divine just looks at his crotch. Divine has had previous lovers like the young boy, Alberto and the black man, Gabriel but she feels that Darling is the best. However, one day when Darling is about to turn 30, Darling goes home with another of his lover, Our Lady of the Flowers. Description of Our Lady of the Flowers: height, 5 ft. 7 in., weight, 156 lbs., oval face, blond hair, blue eyes, mat complexion, perfect teeth, straight nose. It is obvious that Darling and Our Lady of the Flowers have similar features. Hence, Our Lady's edge over Divine.French writer and an openly gay man, Jean Genet (1910-1986) wrote Our Lady of the Flowers(Notre Dame des Fleurs) while he was incarcerated in Paris prison for burglary. Genet was abandoned by his parents as a boy so he grew up with people not related to him and became a young thief. When WWII broke out, the young man Genet served as an army man alongside Hitler's German forces. The war disillusioned him further and compounded his angst. During his 10th incarceration,he wrote the manuscript of his first novel, Our Lady of the Flowers on paper bags provided to inmates. The manuscript was confiscated and burned several times but he persisted. When it came to the hands of Jean-Paul Satre (1905-1980), he marveled at Genet's talent so he and his friends, Andre Gide (1869-1951) and Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) petitioned for Genet's release. The French government granted it.Reading Our Lady of the Flowers made me remember Marquis de Sade's (1740-1814) 120 Days of Sodom minus the rampant rapes and senseless killings. The edition of my book has Satre calling the book as epic of masturbation. I do read erotic novels, some of them with gay men as characters, but this is my first time to read a classic book which describes the homosexual acts in details. It is not as distasteful as De Sade's because Genet made his men (gay and non-gays) seemed to be in-love during those sexual acts and one of them don't get killed by the other after they climaxed so I would not say that those scenes are grossly as distasteful. Again my mantra: it is their body, it is their life, it is what they want, so be it. Regardless of whether the reader is a straight man or gay, I think what should be appreciated in this book are two: (1) the beautiful playful prose which is almost like a long lyrical poem is definitely a joy to read and (2) that Genet wrote this inside the prison cell trying to express his protest against WWII and the French society in general.

  • sologdin
    2019-04-22 21:12

    Sartre characterizes this text in the introduction as “an epic of masturbation” (2), “only one subject: the pollutions of a prisoner in the darkness of his cell” (3), which presents the primary structural difficulty in interpretation here—the modulation between the moments of the fictive Real metanarrative and the purported Imaginary sub-narratives therein. Sartre also thinks that the text has a “desolate, desert-like aspect” wherein one character, say, “undergoes ascesis in an agony” (11)—overall, a “ghastly book” (47). He wonders if “poetry is only the reverse side of masturbation” (15). That stuff may be philistine (and Sartre’s handling of the admittedly complicated gender politics is likewise woefully inadequate), but he does situate the general politics well: one might contrast the humanistic universe of Rimbaud and Nietzsche, in which the powers of the negative shatter the limits of things, with the stable and theological universe of Baudelaire or Mallarme, in which a divine crosier shepherds things together in a flock, imposing unity on discontinuity itself. That Genet chose the latter is only to be expected. In order to do evil, this outcast needs to affirm the pre-existence of good, that is, of order. At the very source of his images is a will to compel reality to manifest the great social hierarchy from which he is excluded. (30) Author (or is it narrator?) is “an exile from our bourgeois, industrial democracy” and is thereby “cast into an artificial medieval world” (33). This text is accordingly a “botany of the underworld” (39), wherein all characters have “the same categorical imperative: since you don’t have faith enough to believe in us, you must at least make others adopt us and must convince them that we exist” (49). So much for Sartre. Text proper is labor intensive. Its statement of purpose is ostensibly “in honor of their crimes” (51), regarding specific seemingly historical executed persons. (Honoring the crimes however strikes me like a signature moment of lumpenized antisocial nihilism.) Text lays out a phantasmagoric narrative/metanarrative. Productive perhaps to examine on the basis of conceptual axis.Corpus/animus—In reflecting on the persons honored for their crimes, supra, narrator suggests that they are “bodies chosen because they are possessed by terrible souls” (53), which is a concern that we might see show up in Agamben’s most recent, The Use of Bodies, incidentally. We see a “blessed body in a supernatural nimbus” (54), the consecrated corpus, subject to agambenian devotio, quite plausibly in this narrative. One character’s death is likened to “Jesus the gilded chancre where gleams His flaming Sacred Heart. So much for the divine aspect of her death. The other aspect, ours, because of those streams of blood that had been shed” (57) (cf. Marlowe’s “Christ’s blood streams in the firmament”). “When I see him lying naked, I feel like saying mass on his chest” (84). The consecration runs to the point of radical corporeal disaggregation: she “lived only on tea and grief. She ate her grief and drank it; this sour food had dried her body and corroded her mind” (155).Gender ISA—Althusser’s ideological state apparatus (perhaps as described in our review of Butler’sGender Trouble) is thoroughly frustrated in this text. I hope that this is not the reason that I identify the presentation as lumpenized antisocial nihilist. Specifically, characters are not stable with regard to pronoun usage: “Divine died yesterday in a pool of her own vomited blood” (57). But: “the duplicity of the sex of fags” (114). The alleged 'duplicity' is borne out regarding the same character, who is always subject to indetermination on this point: She tried for male gestures, which are rarely the gestures of males […] she was supposed to show she was virile so as to capture the murderer, she would end up burlesquing them, and this double formula enveloped her in strangeness [xenos], made her a timid clown in plain dress […] to crown her metamorphosis from female into tough male, she imagined a man-to-man friendship which would link her with one of those faultless pimps whose gestures could not be regarded as ambiguous. (133-34) Narrator will “make myself a male who knows that he really isn’t one” (104), which is an aporia perfectly emblematic of a gender ISA in terminal crisis. Divine, “though she felt as a ‘woman,’ she thought as a ‘man.’ One might think that, in thus reverting spontaneously to her true nature [!], Divine was a male wearing make-up, disheveled with make-believe gestures” (224). In one character’s presence, Divine “managed to think ‘woman’ with regard to serious but never essential things. Her femininity was not only a masquerade” (225). “No doubt, she herself was not a woman (that is, a female in a skirt [wtf?]); she was womanly [!] only through her submission [!!] to the imperious male [!!!!]” (id.). It is perhaps, in the context of the Gender ISA, that Divine “is present wherever the inexplicable arises” (263), like the radical corporeal disaggregation of the “wax dummy that had been disassembled” (id.). But it shall have “hardly affected her opinion of herself to know that she had brought forth a monstrous [sic] creature, neither male nor female” (298), noting well the equivocation of the ISA in the form of monstrosity.Warning—Narrator notes “the foul monstrousness of my arrest” (103). But he also recalls that he had the sacred sign [sic] of the monster the corner of his mouth […] The flaw on the face [sic] or in the set gesture indicates to me that they may very possibly love me, for they love me only if they are monsters. (55) The self-denigration is premised upon a curious agambenian ‘sacredness,’ as with the blessed body, supra—but further proceeds from an ancient etymology: early 14c., "malformed animal or human, creature afflicted with a birth defect," from Old French monstre, mostre "monster, monstrosity" (12c.), and directly from Latin monstrum "divine omen, portent, sign; abnormal shape; monster, monstrosity," figuratively "repulsive character, object of dread, awful deed, abomination," from root of monere "warn" (see monitor (n.)). Abnormal or prodigious animals were regarded as signs or omens of impending evil. Extended by late 14c. to imaginary animals composed of parts of creatures (centaur, griffin, etc.). Meaning "animal of vast size" is from 1520s; sense of "person of inhuman cruelty or wickedness" is from 1550s. As an adjective, "of extraordinary size," from 1837. In Old English, the monster Grendel was an aglæca, a word related to aglæc "calamity, terror, distress, oppression. The reference to monitor is pregnant: 1540s, "senior pupil at a school charged with keeping order, etc.," from Latin monitor "one who reminds, admonishes, or checks," also "an overseer, instructor, guide, teacher," agent noun from monere "to admonish, warn, advise," which is related to memini "I remember, I am mindful of," and to mens "mind," from PIE root *men- "to think" (see mind (n.)). The monstrous is accordingly not only a warning, but also the marker of memory, the ward against etymological amnesty—“freeing an anguished memory that had been haunting me [sic] since the world began” (56) (Cain—Grendel? Or is it rather the Leviathan?). Narrator drifts “to the inner gaze of memory, for the matter of memory is porous" (57). Narrator wanted one person to “love me, and of course he did, with the candor that required only perversity for him to be able” (77), and the “memory of his memory made way for other men” (76). And yet: “He tries to regain his composure, stops to catch his breath, and (in the silence), surrounded by objects that have lost all meaning now that their customary user has ceased to exist, he suddenly feels himself in a monstrous world made up of the soul of the furniture, of the objects” (118-19).What monsters continue their lives in my depths? Perhaps their exhalations or their excrements or their decomposition hatch at my surface some horror or beauty that I feel is elicited by them. I recognize their influence, the charm of their melodrama. My mind continues to produce lovely chimeras. (122) How is there a threshold of indistinction (heh) at beauty/horror, incidentally? The monstrous appears obliquely, agambenian euphemism perhaps, in “outside reigns terror” (135) (aglæca, supra), but also as “decorative monsters” (138) and how one “thought he was penetrating her with his whole centaur body” (150). The nexus of the monstrous with radical corporeal disaggregation is, as with the epainos/logos (see infra), via eros: he had steeped himself in all the monstrosities of which she was composed. He had passed them in review: her very white dry skin, her thinness, the hollows of her eyes, her powdered wrinkles, her slicked down hair, her gold teeth. He noted every detail. (155) And this is how “he knew ecstasy” (id.). But “in imagination our heroes are attracted, as girls are, by monsters” (199). The monstrous, as marked by corporeal disaggregation, is part of the tradition of grotesque realism, insofar as one “feels the same repulsion for all infirmities as he did for reptiles” (208). Narrator through “monstrous horror” is “exiled to the confines of the obscene (which is the off-scene of the world),” which is reasoned to be the “origin of the world and at the origin of the world” (301)—the condition of possibility of the arche is the monstrous, the warning.Hard Fucking—The main appeal of course is prurient, mixed in with unforeseeable abstractions. Who after all shall object to “I was his at once, as if […] he had discharged through my mouth straight to my heart” (60)? Or to how something “made the abbe’s spine stiffen and draw back with three short jerks, the vibrations of which reverberated through all his muscles and on to infinity, which shuddered and ejaculated a seed of constellations” (69)? Or to when “he will rise up, become erect, and penetrate me so deeply that I shall be marked with stigmata” (77)? There’s some indication that these are presented as mere phantasm, insofar as the narrative is interpolated with comments such as “now I am exhausted with inventing circumstances” and “I have a cramp in my wrist” (id.).Otherwise, much of interest. We see the coincidence of both epainos and logos with eros, such that the third is the condition of possibility for the others: “if I think about him, I can’t stop praising him until my hand is smeared with my liberated pleasure” (61). Manual praise, the epainos liberated, is kinda kickass. Let it be a warning to ye. Or, rather, let a bakhtinian grotesque realism be a warning: I wanted to swallow myself by opening my mouth very wide and turning it over my head so that it would take in my whole body, and then the Universe, until all that would remain of me would be a ball of eaten thing which little by little would be annihilated: that is how I see the end of the world. (75)Closely aligned with the bakhtinian interest is Kristeva’s Powers of Horror, to the extent that “dehumanizing myself is my own most fundamental tendency” (82), when that tendency is marked out by “the hidden splendor […] of his abjection [sic],” “soiled them with his own abjection” (id.).The phallos otherwise as not so much the transcendental signified of phallogocentrism, but rather “an object of pure luxury” (106), as the necessary economic good is reflected in “I lived in the midst of an infinity of holes in the form of men” (174).Recommended for those who serve a text they know nothing about, readers whose love is akin to despair, and persons forced to love what they loathe.

  • Cody
    2019-04-12 16:17

    THE REVIEWS ARE IN!!! PARIS REELS!!! “There are only two real writers among the living Frenchmen: Genet and I.”—Louis-Ferdinand Céline (noted Célinean)“Genet is God.” (Jean-Paul Sartre, noted Sartrean) ****************************************What to make of this novel? What can I possibly add to something both as simple as a “children’s tale” yet so slathered in an alchemical mixture of the sacred and profane that their differentiation becomes a thankless, no, useless task? There are some books that you just have to get out of the way of, to let their beauty remain uninterrupted by your critical inanities. I’ll accomplish nothing by pointing out that people that have this filed under ‘erotica’ are clearly fucking insane; that if all you get out of Our Lady of the Flowers is Hot Gay Action (HGA), then you are clearly distracted by the word “cock" out of all proportion; that Genet’s prose is so nimble that it threatens to fly off the page at points; etc. (See what I did there?)Read this single sentence and be Genet’s judge, jury, and executioner. I don’t think he’d have had it any other way. Hey, it was good enough for Our Lady: ”The village, which they recreated for their own use, and where, as we have said, the children were sovereign, was entangled in practices that were without strangeness to those who lived in a village of strange nights, where stillborn children were buried toward evening, carried to the cemetery by their sisters in pine boxes as narrow and varnished as violin cases; where other children ran about in the glades and pressed their naked bellies, though sheltered from the moon, against the trunks of beeches and oaks that were as sturdy as adult mountaineers whose short thighs bulged beneath their buckskin breeches, at a spot stripped of its bark, in such a way as to receive on the tender skin of their little white bellies the discharge of sap in the spring; where the Italian woman walked by, spying on the old, sick, and paralytic, whose souls she culled from their eyes, listening to them die (the old die the way children are born), having them at her mercy, and her mercy was not her grace; a village whose days were no less strange than its nights, where, on Corpus Christi or Rogation Day, corteges went through the blazing noonday countryside in processions composed of little girls with porcelain heads wearing white dresses and crowned with cloth flowers, of choir boys swinging in the wind censers covered with verdigris, of women stiff in their green or black moiré, of men gloved in black, holding up a canopy of oriental cast that was plumed with ostrich feathers, under which walked the priest carrying a monstrance.”Love,Darling Daintyfoot

  • [P]
    2019-04-20 14:29

    My introduction to masturbation occurred when I was around nine years old. A senior boy shared the secret. At home that afternoon, for the first time I rubbed my little prick and…nothing. All I created was friction, sweat and boredom. It was as though my penis wasn’t ready for what was being asked of it. A few hours later, however, I tried again, and on this occasion something did happen. The tinder started to smoulder; and then it caught fire. A small flame. I blew on it gently, scared in case it went out. The smoke intensified, rising swiftly. It entered my lungs and my breathing became laboured. Meanwhile, the fire grew bigger, warmer. I stoked it aggressively, and the warmth spread throughout my body. Then, just as quickly as it had ignited, the fire died, and I was left in pain.The following day, everything had changed. I saw the world differently. It had became fractured, yet fuller. Suddenly there were women. I felt as though I had given birth to them, had created them myself, in my bedroom, under the covers. I had created them, then cast them far and wide; and now I sought to gather them up, to reclaim them so as to use them in private. How many women have I jerked off to in the intervening years? Thousands? Someone I see on a train, in a shop, on the street. Celebrities, nobodies. I gather these women up, and store them away, for later, when they are always obliging, and always so expert at getting me off. Nobody can do me the way that they can do me, when I act as their intermediary.What is perhaps most attractive about masturbation is that it is an escape into another world, an imaginary, and better, world, over which you have control. The women I fondle and fuck, who gratefully grip and suck, are a conjurer’s trick; they are in fact amalgamations, they are monstrously sown together from the body parts of various women. I am their father, and, in this way, they are one of the purest expressions of my self, as well as a means of avoiding myself and my circumstances. Wanking is, therefore, an indulgent and imaginative endeavour with a factual foundation, like writing, only more satisfying, of course, and less likely to be thrust upon an unsuspecting, and largely disinterested, public.Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers was, it is said, written in prison on the brown paper that was issued to inmates in order to make bags. It is often described as [homo]erotica, but it differs from other books of that sort in that it was most likely not composed in order to make its readers hot, although it could function in this way, but rather as an aid to getting Genet off while he languished in his cell. Indeed, the narrator/author states that he has ‘raised egoistic masturbation to the dignity of a cult’ and lauds the ‘pleasure of the solitary, gesture of solitude that makes you sufficient unto yourself, possessing intimately others who serve your pleasure without their suspecting it.’ These ‘others’ are, in the main, pictures of hoodlums and murderers that he has taken from newspapers and pinned to the walls of his cell.It is no surprise, therefore, that Jean-Paul Sartre, who was a champion of the work, called it ‘the epic of masturbation.’ Yet this gives the impression that Our Lady of the Flowers is simply a record of Genet’s adventures in pleasuring himself, that it is a kind of wanking diary, but the reality is something more complex and wonderful. The moments when the author is present in the text, with cock in hand, are infrequent; in fact, sex itself, explicitly explored, makes up only a small proportion of the book. Masturbation may have been the motivating factor, and much of the content may have served this purpose for the incarcerated Frenchman, but the most fascinating, beautiful, thing about Our Lady of the Flowers is how in fantasising about the criminals on his wall, in loving them, Genet’s love ‘endows them with life.’Throughout Our Lady of the Flowers the pictures, and his own experiences and memories, even aspects of himself, are transposed into his characters and situations. He says of the transvestite Divine that ‘it will take an entire book before I will draw from her petrifaction and little by little impart to her my suffering.’ The real Divine he met, he writes, in Fresnes prison. She spoke to him of Darling Daintyfoot, another important character in the novel, but Genet ‘never quite knew his face.’ The author sees this as a ‘tempting opportunity to make him merge in my mind with the face and build of Roger,’ only very little of this man remains in his memory. Therefore, the Darling that ‘exists’ within the pages of Our Lady of the Flowers is a composite of many men, including ‘the face of another youngster’ he saw emerging from a brothel.So, for me, the book is more about the creative writing process than it is blowing your load, or is at least about the relationship between these two things. If you have ever attempted to create a character you will know that they are, in exactly the way that Genet describes, partly born from your rib, but also from a variety of other people you may have known or observed [and, as noted in my introduction, this is how masturbatory fantasies work too]. Moreover, as you breathe life into them, as you populate, you – as the creator – begin to understand your power, but simultaneously, ultimately, your powerlessness, over them. For example, as the author you can decide to give ‘a breathing-spell, even a bit of happiness’ to your creations, as Genet is tempted to do vis-a-vis Divine and Darling. Yet he also acknowledges that once brought to life these people in a sense exist independently [“if it were up to me only, I would make of her the kind of fatal hero I like”], that, once you have given them qualities, they must act in accordance with these qualities.I have thus far only mentioned in passing the author’s preoccupation with murderers. For Genet, these people are ‘enchanting’, they are ‘a wonderful blossoming of dark and lovely flowers.’ Indeed, it is, he states, ‘in honour of their crimes’ that he is writing his book. One could understand this fascination in relation to sex, of course. In my review of Octave Mirbeau’s The Torture Garden I explored the connection between sex and violence, so I do not want to repeat myself here; but, on a more basic level, we are all aware of the allure, the sexual potency, of the hard man, the dangerous man, the bit of rough, even if we do not subscribe to it ourselves. However, I believe that there is a deeper significance to Genet’s interest, which is that violent criminals exist on the fringes of society, they have, intentionally, placed themselves outside of bourgeois or conventional society. Murderers are people of ‘wild imagination’, who have ‘the great poetic faculty of denying our universe and its values so that they may act upon it with sovereign ease.’ In this way, they are similar to his transvestites and homosexuals, and to himself.This attitude, this interest in and admiration for the unconventional, perhaps also explains why Christianity is such a consistent presence in the text. Indeed, on the first page Genet writes about his dislike of angels, which, he says, fill him with horror. Most frequently, the author uses Christian language or imagery to describe something that would be considered irreligious. For example, when Divine makes hard the cocks of two policemen, they are said to knock against the doors of their trousers, urging them to open ‘like the clergy at the closed church door on Palm Sunday.’ There is also, of course, the double meaning of the name Divine [who, moreover, dies at the beginning of the book and is then, in a sense, resurrected], and another transvestite prostitute is called First Communion. By repeatedly merging the divine and the debauched, Genet is deliberately dirtying Christianity – which preaches conventionality – by association.While all of what I have written about previously is of interest, and goes a long way to making Our Lady of the Flowers the masterpiece that it is, the biggest selling point, the most extravagantly plumed feather in the book’s cap, is the quality of the prose. I ought to say that it is beautiful, amongst the most beautiful I have ever encountered, and leave it at that; but I will attempt some kind of discussion, anyway. Genet wrote in a kind of freestyle, or at least that it how it appears in translation, in an elegantly inelegant fashion. His sentences meander across the page, like a handsome, yet drunk, young couple. His imagery is at times ludicrous or fantastical – ‘a pulled tooth, lying in a glass of champagne in the middle of a Greek landscape’ – and at others precise or impressively restrained – ‘the revolver/disappeared beneath the bed like an axe at the bottom of a pond.’ In all instances, at all times, however, it satisfied me, it got me hard.

  • Keith
    2019-04-06 19:07

    This was hard, but there is an unmistakable art in Genet's writing--a sensuality as it should be: consumed with textures and scents. I got lost and am certain I did not always understand but the book left me impressed with Genet's eye for details, humor, and poetry. Like poetry, it should be read more than once; it's blunted characters and blurred identities fall like sunlight or shadows on whatever you as a reader bring. This is not a celebration of gay or criminal lives, but a perspective that like any other includes joy and hardships, and is different enough to mistake for seduction when it is merely true to itself while asking for the same in return.Towards the end a single terrible act anchors the book in tragedy. It was here, I had the hardest time and lost a lot of sympathy for Divine. However, along with other sad moments, Genet offers us this uneasy bed to lie in--the kind of trap we all learn to sleep with.

  • Khashayar Mohammadi
    2019-03-29 14:32

    No comments until I have read this once again...

  • Avital
    2019-04-03 20:09

    Genet is a genious in his sensual descriptions of ruthless men. His attraction to crime and death equals his love for masculine beauty and sex. He wrote this book in jail, and in more than one way, this book released him. The first time i read it I was about twenty and it actually shook my (literary) world. He was so different from anything I'd read before (and i'd real lots of books before) that I compulsively read and reread it.

  • Tosh
    2019-04-09 19:07

    The best prison novel ever! Well, actually it's a piece of erotica from a genius writer. Jean Genet is one of the greats, because he can express suffering, joyment, and a world that is extremely eroticize. To go into his world is like having a feverish dream and realizing that your world that you work in can not possibly exist. Genet's world is much more real, dirty and very very beautiful.

  • Antonomasia
    2019-04-01 19:25

    Bernard Frechtman translationFeb 2015.It would be more rewarding to re-read bits of A rebours and The Naked Civil Servant, I thought at first. (Genet's descriptions are never so lush as Huysmans', and his gay demi-monde - or full-on underworld - is contemporaneous with Crisp's but, for all the use of Wildean reversal / transvaluation of values, the wit here is rarely as funny.) This might have been another instance of reading a classic too late, when I'd already read so much inspired by it that the original wasn't terribly interesting on its own merits. Still, Our Lady has atmosphere & visuals, and regardless of remembering books that were more elegant sentence-on-sentence, I eventually got lost in it regardless. The truly sordid origins of bedsit glamour. A book I find easiest to sum up as an image: a paint-peeling room with a motheaten red-velvet throne and scuffed fake Louis Quinze furniture (long before the rough luxe trend, and with altogether too much damp to be salubrious) inhabited by a fabulous drag queen whose lovers are wiry, starveling scallies forever in and out of prison. And of course Genet in his cell imagining it all, and wanking off to pictures of men he's stuck to the wall. These characters are from fetishy fantasies and daydreams scribbled on secret bits of paper; they don't have conventionally rounded personalities; those who want healthily empathic description of everyone won't find it here. The urgency of getting off and of mental escape from confinement makes this an overwhelming visual and breathlessly fixated ...story... set of stories? There is the thread of a plot, but images and scenes wheel about, not entirely continuous.I got round to this now because I wanted to read Patti Smith's Just Kids - in it she mentions Genet literally about 30 times. The rhythms of her run-on lyrics from Horses can be heard in some paragraphs; there are lines I knew from Bowie and possibly The Divine Comedy; imagery and favourite words I recognise from people I've met, who must have read this. So much here was familiar even whilst the specifics of the plot weren't. Ages after I first read Martin Amis describing his characters on the loo, I'm not shocked by Genet's accounts of same, nosepicking etc as contemporaries were (though what with all the farting, I wondered if the Reeves & Mortimer farting characters [the Petermains?] were French because of this & Evgenie Sokolov). It's simply very embodied, in including both ecstatic and base bodily functions. (All belonging to people who are more or less beautiful.) I've never stopped being shocked though, that people were still judicially beheaded in Western Europe in the twentieth century.To read Genet in a cheap edition with loads of typos, without ever having compared translations, seems true to the spirit of the thing, but this is also a book that's overdue for the full introduction and notes treatment.

  • David M
    2019-04-02 20:26

    Hold on, this shit is kinda gay.*I was 17 when I first read Our Lady, and I would never be the same again. My mind & teenage limbic system simply did not know how to process passages like the following. I thought I literally might explode.'I know very well that if I were sick, and were cured by a miracle, I would not survive it.''July Fourteenth: red, white, and blue everywhere. Divine dresses up in all the other colors, out of consideration for them, because they are disdained.''When Mimosa left the garret, Darling tried to pick a quarrel with Divine so he could leave her. He found nothing to quarrel about. That made him furious with her. He called her a bitch and left.''I shall surround myself only with roughnecks of undistinguished personality, with none of the nobility that comes from heroism. My loved ones will be those whom you would call "hoodlums of the worst sort."''I have already spoken of my fondness for odors, the strong odors of the earth, of the loins of Arabs and, above all, the odor of my farts, which is not the odor of my shit, a loathsome odor, so much so that here again I bury myself beneath the covers and gather in my cupped hands my crushed farts which I carry to my nose.''Our Lady never thought of anything, and that was what gave him the air of knowing everything straight away, as by a kind of grace.''At the reformatory, an inspector (he was twenty-five years old and wore fawn-colored leather boots up to his thighs which were no doubt hairy) had noticed the youngsters' shirttails were stained with shit. Every Sunday morning, when we changed linen, he therefore made us hold out our dirty shirts by the outspread sleeves. With the thin end of his whip he would lash the face, already tortured by humiliation, of the boy whose shirttail was doubtful. We no longer dared to go to the toilet, but, when we were driven to it by a case of the gripes, after wiping our fingers on the white-washed walls (there was no paper) which was already yellow with piss, we took good care to lift up our shirttails (I now say "we," but at the time each kid thought he was the only one who did it), and it was the seat of the white pants that was soiled. On Sunday mornings we felt the hypocritical purity of virgins.'*Jean Genet was once mentioned in a Dire Straits song, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neBIz...

  • Ralowe Ampu
    2019-03-27 21:09

    i’d want to say that it was hard for me to finish reading this because i couldn’t stop masturbating but honestly i was masturbating because of something else. which is not to say that this book was a contributing factor. i think the spate of masturbation which coincided with the reading was because i was having anxiety about my neighbor screaming, which did make it very hard to read the book and really enjoy it. so you see i share something in common with genet—disclosing too much information. i can see the roots of what we would one day call anti-relationalism in the description of farts, the joy of watching babies fall off balconies and ratting out your friends. i’m not saying that there’s nothing here for other people to masturbate to. i really want to say that the beautiful masturbatory imagery just took me to this place, but maybe if i read it a bunch of years ago. this is the first piece of fiction i’ve read for a while. the last thing i read shares some similarities with genet—120 days of sodom—both french, incarcerated, perverted and canonical. please don’t get the wrong idea about me. i want to find out what angela davis thinks about genet's writing.

  • Velvetink
    2019-04-11 21:11

    Powerful work with sensual descriptions of even ordinary events. Considering his lack of education (left school at about 12 or so) it's a work of genius, and he is not fettered by conventional uses of narrative.

  • Lynne King
    2019-03-26 18:21

    A bad choice of book.

  • David
    2019-04-06 22:31

    I feel silly giving this stars ... it's less a work of art and more the darker parts of a man's living brain. As Sartre says in the intro: "This work of the mind is an organic product. It smells of bowels and sperm and milk."I liked this description of the pimp: "all and always hot muscle and bush".

  • Tyler
    2019-04-03 19:18

    The title Our Lady of the Flowers turned me off at first – another self-absorbed piece of trashy drag. But why then did Sartre write a long preface? There lay the key. Sartre had been fleshing out his program of existential psychoanalysis, and then he suddenly found it all here, in the flesh. It’s a rare feat when a novelist breathes life into untested ideas. Almost every reader has trouble describing this book, no matter how they like it. Now I’ll give it a try. Jean Genet performs here a sort of self-analysis. The narration takes no account of readers, but even so readers are necessary as witnesses, judges who enable Genet to talk out loud. No book I’ve read engages the reader in such a way.Genet exerts striking authorial control. He breaks in on his basic story, a mystery of mayhem involving two main characters, whenever he needs to bring himself back to earth about his actual imprisonment in 1942. Centering on the hustling bar life of pre-war Paris, the story splits into a frame narrative that changes the focus among characters, explodes into new stories and angles, and ultimately shatters the whole against the concrete of tight-assed morality. Pimps and trannies alike go up in a whirl of Parisian pixie dust. And what a dustup! The surrealistic metaphor and allusion take genius to pull off, far more than you would expect from a prisoner scribbling in his cell in pencil on paper bags. An exotic prose-poetry comes at us out of nowhere. Such precise detail reminds me of Flaubert’s obsession with the perfect word. The aura of the book reminds me of Kiss of the Spider Woman. Words generate their own reality, enough to transport an inmate beyond his cell walls and into a parallel universe “so perfect in its inevitability that this world has only to disappear.” We know Genet’s telling himself a story, yet we become fully involved. Samples of Genet’s prose give a taste of his style:--Her hands, freed from the revolver, which disappeared beneath the bed like an ax at the bottom of a pond, like a prowler into a wall, her hands, lighter than thoughts, fluttered about her.--Culafroy did not know that a violin ... could upset his sensitive mother, and that violins moved about in her dreams in the company of lithe cats, at corners of walls, under balconies where thieves divide the night’s loot, where other toughs slouch around a lamppost, on stairways that squeak like violins being skinned alive. --Night emerges from his eyes and spreads over his face, which begins to look like pines on stormy nights ...Just superb. As to the self-analysis, fans of Sartre will be amazed at degree of existentialism in Genet’s descriptions. But that’s subtext, and most readers will enjoy the story without that added layer of meaning. A jackboot of masochism kicks faces, but the overt sex isn’t nearly as much as you’d expect. The prose, then, is strong enough to cross over to a straight audience with diverse reading habits. I've got to add that the Frechtman translation is so good that I went for pages thinking I was reading about Americans. I recommend the book as a classic of its genre.

  • James
    2019-04-19 14:23

    This free-flowing, poetic novel is a largely autobiographical account of a man's journey through the Parisian underworld. Genet drew the characters after their real-life counterparts, who are mostly homosexuals living on the fringes of society as was Genet himself. Written while he was in prison, it was largely completed in 1942. The book was first published anonymously by Robert Denoël and Paul Morihien at the end of 1943, though only about 30 copies of the first edition were bound in that year (most began to be bound and sold in August 1944, during the Liberation). The first printing was designed for sale to well-to-do collectors of erotica; it circulated by private sales lists and under the counter. But Genet never intended his work as mere pornography and later excised more graphic passages. In November 1943, he sent a copy of the first printing to Marc Barbezat, publisher of the literary journal L'Arbalete, who published the book in 1944 and again in 1948. The writing style and honest realism comes through and makes this an exciting read - a must for fans of Genet.

  • Kurt
    2019-04-08 22:35

    If asked to name the single greatest book I've read it would be Our Lady of the Flowers. I was introduced to it by a rough trade male hustler in 1975 and it's hard to believe I got past the first page at that time. This novel purports to tell the story of a circle of pimps and transvestites in 1940's Paris. That, however, is surface, and it is unfortunate that gay and feminist factions have appropriated Our Lady as a kind of political manifesto. Genet himself stated that this was not his aim at all and that he only intended here to explore his love of language and metaphor. I would not recommend this novel to the impatient, it is very difficult to get through. The characters are dream creations and thus can dissolve, merge into each other or simply pass physical characteristics back and forth. Genet uses a type of free association which may link the moisture of a leaf to Roman Legions moving through an ancient forest to a drag queen funeral procession suspended in mid-air. I think this work exemplifies the difference between genius(Joyce) and vision (Genet).

  • Jamie
    2019-04-15 20:26

    Frequently beautiful & certainly one of the few books to legitimately make me blush when reading it in public (particularly on the train, where I was v. attentive to whether or not fellow passengers were reading over my shoulder). That said, after the first 50 pages, I found it an incredible chore to get through. Perhaps I just needed to be reading, at that point, something more narratively driven. The sense of awe awarded figures like Divine and Our Lady, &co was evident, wonderful, now and again literally thrilling in a physical way. But I ultimately felt that the book meandered in a way that didn't even seem to me to be a comment on meandering-ness, or some sort of experimental refusal of convention. It just felt like Genet needed a solid editor. But then again, maybe I just wasn't in the mood to "get" it & will return to him in future. I'd like to read something shorter of his in the original French soon.

  • Andy
    2019-03-23 18:26

    Unique erotica, like no other book ever written. A convict in a French prison posts glamorous magazine pics of men on his cell wall and daydreams sex fantasies of them intermingled with fantasies of his fellow inmates. This is no gay porn Walter Mitty, though; you find yourself inhabiting an alternate universe much like Kenneth Anger’s short films made during the same period (World War II Nineteen Forties). Read this and feel your head explode!

  • Carolyn
    2019-04-08 22:10

    Face-to-face with the desire to touch. The book is a gesture I hold between my fingers ... a moan for the sake of a gesture (or is it a death croak, la pètite morte?) The book is a gesture I hold between my teeth. Gnawing at the wound, mouth-born paroxysms of pain. I pry the shards from crevasses of molars. Regurgitated, spit-soaked, soured by the sanguine, the little shredded book falls from my mouth into the soil. Later, a paperwhite blooms beneath the snow.

  • sheena
    2019-04-04 15:28

    Never thought I'd suggest that a novel devoted to praising penis should be adapted for Broadway, but here we are. So, when I wrote my dear friend to ask if he cared that I doodled all throughout his book, he responded: "NP. Fascinated to see what sapphic undertones you can wrench out of the depths of Jean Genet's dick-swinging fiesta." YEA. That was pretty hard to do; the soundtrack to this text screams PENIS-PRICKS-STICKS. (Somehow though, it's surprisingly NOT misogynistic, and almost HAWT, even, IMHO) Anyway, who knew that dicks and "Homoseckshuals" were so worthy of admiration?Genet captures the world of those "who are willing to jerk you off, but only with their feet" and speaks of *self-love* and bodily functions with a familiarity usually reserved for adolescent journals. There's a lot more here than that, but c'mon, that's the juicy part.If you're interested in humanity, saints, sins, psychology, mind-blowingly fucked up yet absolutely normal shit, disgusting human truths, beauty, crime, and language, please read this. Genet is a brilliant dude. To end in cliche, if everyone could write how he wrote, we'd never manage to life our noses out of books.

  • Chris
    2019-04-16 22:27

    I'm not entirely sure how to properly vocalize what it is that was so enticing about 'Our Lady.' It's not by any stretch of the imagination a proper story, even in the sense of the postmodern novel which doesn't have to follow any rules of continuity, really. The characters change here and there not according to the usual idea of growth throughout the plot, and I response to events - to the contrary, Divine, Darling, Our Lady, Mimosa, and the rest of the queens are all rather static characters - but at the whim of the author, who plainly states over and over that this is his story, and not the reader's, thank you very much.Perhaps what it is that is so captivating, as Sartre says in the introduction, is that 'Our Lady' is 250 pages of onanism; it is Genet's truly bizarre form of (surprisingly literary) erotica to pass the time in prison. Definitely not for those who like a more straightforward or traditional narrative, 'Our Lady' nonetheless is a pretty interesting peek at the harder to find queer "art house novel."

  • Roland
    2019-03-31 21:27

    Disgusting and beautiful. This book, about the queer Parisian underworld, feels peak Burroughs but with a romantic edge. It's astonishing that a book like this was published in 1943, since a number of passages read like pornography, in addition to the characters behaving in absolutely vile ways to each other. It's hard to like these characters, and any sympathy I may have had for Divine vanished near the end during the passage with the dead child. For fans of beat literature, this novel is essential since it definitely has the free-flowing feel that you get from the best of beat writing. Amazing stuff.

  • Namrirru
    2019-03-28 19:31

    This book would be extremely depressing except for the interesting connection between his fantasies and being a prisoner. The prisoner writes his fantasies from his prison cell, whiddling away the time or just trying to keep himself company. But the really interesting aspect is the way he talks to his audience, because it isn't so much story which evolves but his view of people he's writing to. The longer he is in prison in isolation, the more frantic and desperate he becomes so that his story gradually turns into one of pure masochism and victimization.