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Editor’s Introduction Patries Bougon T HE HISTORY of the reception of Jean Genet’s writing has been marked most especially by three critical perspectives. Sartre’s Saint Genet comédien et martyr, published by Gallimard in 1952, brought Genet international acclaim, proposing an interpretation of his novels focusing on the thematics of evil, homosexuality and liberty. The nineteen sixties and seventies then turned critical attention to the com­ plexity of his theatre, as shown by the 1972 issues of the theatrical jour­ nals Voies de la création théâtrale (CNRS) and Obliques. Finally, in 1974, Derrida took what I believe was a decisive step in analyzing, with Glas (Galilée, 1974), a particular logic of the signifier—even though this text did not have an effect comparable to that of Sartre’s, no doubt because there is still a certain resistance to the Derridian approach, but also, perhaps, because Genet was thought at the time to have ceased all literary production. A false hypothesis, as this special issue shows. The essays collected here are mainly the fruit of the “ Jean Genet, littérature et politique” conference held at the University of Pennsyl­ vania on April 17, 1993, which I organized thanks to the generosity of the French Institute for Culture and Technology together with the Department of Romance Languages.1 One of the origins of the conference was the unexpected publication of two posthumous volumes which have radically modified our percep­ tion of Genet’s writing. Indeed, while Genet had proclaimed his disdain for literature for 20 years, during the last two years of his life, however, he took the time to write his longest work ever, Un Captif amoureux, a 500-page narrative published a month after his death in April 1986. As well as this text, which retraces the author’s memories of the Black Pan­ thers and the Palestinians, in 1991 Gallimard published Genet’s principal political writings in a collection entitled L ’Ennemi déclaré. It seems, today, that such posthumous texts will allow us to reread Genet’s com­ plete works under a different light. If the majority of the contributions in this issue concern Un Captif amoureux and L ’Ennemi déclaré, other texts are also called upon where their political and ethical dimensions are seen as dominant: Pompes funèbres, Les Nègres, Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs, Ce qui est resté d ’un Rembrandt [...]. Vol. XXXV, N o. 1 3 L ’E sprit C réateur Two different types of readings are proposed. Firstly, those articles by contributors taking into account the biography and/or the historical context of publication of Genet’s work: Cynthia Running-Johnson, Philip Watts, Edmund White; secondly, those drawing upon other authors, whether theoretical or not, in order to look more closely at the singularity of Genet’s own writing and its political or ethical dimensions. Rather than summarize—and betray—these latter contributions (the titles on the contents page give a sufficiently clear idea of the topics each one treats), I shall, instead, cite the writers the papers draw upon and thus hope to indicate the diversity and originality of their different perspec­ tives: Patrice Bougon (Derrida, Riffaterre); Gisèle Child Olmsted (Depestre, Fanon); Scott Durham (Jameson, Guattari); Pascale Gaitet (Cixous, Sontag); Jean-Michel Rabaté (Foucault, Lacan). Université de Paris VIII Notes 1. I wish to thank Prof. Frank Bowman and the French Institute for Culture and Technol­ ogy, Prof. Lance Donaldson Evans and the Department of Romance Languages as well as the Center for Cultural Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the Service culturel de l’Ambassade de France in New York. My thanks are also due to Profs. Michèle Richman and Gerald Prince for their interest and kind support in presiding over the sessions, and to Susan Marson for helping to prepare the English-language copy in this issue. 4 Sp r in g 1995 ...


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