Cover

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pp. 1-5

Contents

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pp. v-v

Translator's Note

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pp. vii-vii

Book I: The Metamorphosis

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The Melodious Child Dead in Me Long Before the Ax Chops Off My Head

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pp. 1-16

Genet is related to that family of people who are nowadays referred to by the barbaric name of passeistes.* An accident riveted him to a childhood memory, and this memory became sacred. In his early childhood, a liturgical drama was performed, a drama of which he was the officiant: he knew paradise and lost it, he was a child and ...

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A Dizzying Word

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pp. 17-48

The child was playing in the kitchen. Suddenly he became aware of his solitude and was seized with anxiety, as usual. So he "absented" himself. Once again, he plunged into a kind of ecstasy. There is now no one in the room. An abandoned consciousness is reflecting utensils. A drawer is opening; a little hand moves ...

Book II: First Conversion: Evil

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I Will Be the Thief

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pp. 49-58

Pinned by a look, a butterfly fixed to a cork, he is naked, everyone can see him and spit on him. The gaze of the adults is a constituent power which has transformed him into a constituted nature. He now has to live. In the pillory, with his neck in an iron collar, he still has to live. We are not lumps of clay, and what is important is ...

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I Decided to Be What Crime Made of Me

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pp. 59-72

We have situated Genet's decision in its objective bearings. We know what it is in itself. We must now see what it is for him, that is, as a subjective moment of his conscious life. What does this will to be evil mean to Genet himself, what is its intentional structure? As soon as we begin to approach the problem, we discover an ...

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The Eternal Couple of the Criminal and the Saint . . .

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pp. 73-137

Thus, Genet seeks his Being. He looks for it first within himself; he spies on his inner life. But nothing comes of it, for the spy and what he spies on are one and the same. The first failure helps us to understand the importance which mirrors assume for him. A mirror is a consciousness in reverse. To the right-thinking man, it ...

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I Is Another

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pp. 138-149

Twice dead the Toughs, the Murderers, the handsome, criminal Pimps. Dead the appearances, dissolved in his acid lucidity. He finds himself free. What then? Free to do what? Is he any less wretched? When he discovers this freedom, he is in prison, or begging in Barcelona, crushed by contempt. He has nothing to do ...

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A Daily Labor, Long and Disappointing . . .

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pp. 150-193

Let us go back to the moment of the conversion. The child has decided both to be evil and do Evil. We have followed him in the labyrinth where he is misled by his will to be. Will he have better luck when he aims only at acting? One would think so at first: does he not discard the contradictions of ontological and theological ...

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"To Succeed in Being All, Strive to Be Nothing in Anything"

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pp. 194-249

It did not occur to Genet all at once to become a saint or to give the name Saintliness to his longing to do harm. We have seen that as a child he dreamed o£ raising himself above men. Despite the frightful awakening, this dream has never left him. The source of the extraordinary paradoxes which we are going to discuss is to be ...

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Cain

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pp. 250-353

I shall not dwell on his voluntarism. We know that this soul is utter will, even in the passive waiting for Good. It is no longer a matter of explaining Genet by his history or of deriving his attitudes and behavior from an original choice. I wish to describe him from within, as he appeared to himself at about the age of ...

Book III: Second Metamorphosis: The Aesthete

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Strange Hell of Beauty . . .

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pp. 355-401

Genet drifts from the Ethics of Evil to a black aestheticism. The metamorphosis takes place at first without his realizing it: he thinks that he is still living beneath the sun of Satan when a new sun rises: Beauty. This future writer was obviously not spoiled at birth: no "artistic nature/' no "poetic gift." At the age of ...

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I Went to Theft as to a Liberation, as to the Light

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pp. 402-423

Around 1936, when he was twenty-six years old, Genet returned to France after a long period o£ wandering, met a professional burglar and accompanied him on his expeditions. "I had the revelation of theft." According to him, this revelation was decisive: "I went to theft as to a liberation." That is how he views his life: a ...

Book IV: Third Metamorphosis: The Writer

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A Mechanism Having the Exact Rigor of Verse

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pp. 425-446

I shall explain later why Genet's works are false novels written in false prose. But prose, whether false or not, springs from the intention to communicate. Now, at the age of twenty-eight Genet does not have a single thought, a single desire that he can share, or wishes to share, with others. Except for his monotonous string of ...

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And I, Gentler than a Wicked Angel, Lead Her by the Hand

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pp. 447-482

Our Lady of the Flowers, which is often considered to be Genet's masterpiece, was written entirely in prison, but, this time, in the solitude of the cell. The exceptional value of the work lies in its ambiguity. It appears at first to have only one subject, Fatality; the characters are puppets of destiny. But we quickly discover that this ..

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On the Fine Arts Considered as Murder

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pp. 483-543

It is within the framework of Evil that Genet makes his major decision. Moreover, he has not at all given up stealing: why should he? It is hard to imagine him renouncing burglary for belles-lettres the way a repentant embezzler gives up swindling and opens a shop. "The idea of a literary career would make me shrug/' When ...

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My Victory Is Verbal and I Owe It to the Sumptuousness of the Terms

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pp. 544-583

By infecting us with his evil, Genet delivers himself from it. Each of his books is a cathartic attack of possession, a psychodrama; in appearance, each of them merely repeats the preceding one, as his new love affairs repeat the old: but with each work he masters increasingly the demon that possesses him. His ten years of ...

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Please Use Genet Properly

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pp. 584-599

I have tried to do the following: to indicate the limit of psychoanalytical interpretation and Marxist explanation and to demonstrate that freedom alone can account for a person in his totality; to show this freedom at grips with destiny, crushed at first by its mischances, then turning upon them and digesting them little by little; to prove ...

Appendices

1. Self-Portrait of the Good Citizen

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pp. 601-606

2. The Tzedek Test

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pp. 607-610

3. The Maids

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pp. 611-625