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Upstaged in Palestine

Nigel Williams, 18 May 1989

Prisoner of Love 
by Jean Genet, translated by Barbara Bray.
Picador, 375 pp., £12.95, February 1989, 9780330299626
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... Jean Genet’s flirtation with radical politics began with his discovery – or was it entombment? – by Sartre. It is recorded that when Genet first read Saint Genet, he was cast into deep despair, an emotion shared by many others who have tried to read Sartre’s massive study ...
... after all, that made a series out of Tales of the City, that featured my own biography of Jean Genet on a South Bank Show and did a filmed version of Jeanette Winterson’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit; now British television is filming Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library. American television would never initiate such programmes, which ...

Short Cuts

Elisabeth Ladenson: Autofriction, 20 September 2007

... why it was initially criticised for its strange hybrid nature). Céline, Henry Miller, Colette and Jean Genet followed; and autofiction has gained something of a stranglehold on French literature in the decades since Doubrovsky named it. Over the past decade or two this trend has given rise to many works of remarkable intimacy, at times to great effect ...

Unfair to gays

Simon Raven, 19 June 1980

The Homosexual as Hero in Contemporary Fiction 
by Stephen Adams.
Vision, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1980, 0 85478 204 4
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... diverse and individual, he settles down to record them, beginning with Gore Vidal and ending with Jean Genet. His manner is to give detailed and surprisingly readable accounts of the plots of an author’s salient novels, sprinkling these accounts with sharp comments as to the thought or motive that may have lain behind such and such a device of plotting ...

The Prisoner

Michael Wood, 10 June 1993

by Edmund White.
Chatto, 820 pp., £25, June 1993, 9780701133979
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... pinching stuff from parked cars? An incompetent thief, perhaps – which was what Cocteau called Genet, the delinquent in question: ‘You are a bad thief, you get caught. But you are a good writer.’ Genet said much the same thing about himself in a late interview. But then what happens when this incompetent thief ...

World of Faces

T.J. Clark: Face to Face with Rembrandt, 4 December 2014

Rembrandt: The Late Works 
National Gallery, until 18 January 2015Show More
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... They say​ that when Jean Genet made occasional visits to London after the war his first stop was always the Rembrandt room in the National Gallery, to see Self-Portrait at the Age of 63. The portrait is dated 1669: Genet believed it was the last Rembrandt painted. (Not true, apparently ...

At Tate Modern

Jeremy Harding: Giacometti, 17 August 2017

... for the writers who took up with him – Georges Bataille, Michel Leiris, Sartre and Beauvoir, Jean Genet and others – though none under B for Beckett, and none for John Berger, who was cool at first, then much warmer, coming under fire from David Sylvester – another S – for disparaging Giacometti’s work in the 1950s, and then for revising his ...

On David King

Susannah Clapp, 21 June 2018

... billowing image of Isaac Babel. In 1989 he arrived with a previously unpublished photograph of Jean Genet, which he had taken in the early 1970s. It was the most tremendous close-up: just nose, eyebrows and set mouth. You could count the pores. As he handed the picture over, he described how he had taken it, in a hotel in Lancaster Gate. And he ...
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... Family in The Philosophy of Right. All down the right-hand column runs a text from the writings of Jean Genet. The ploy – to show that all meaning ‘deconstructs’ other meaning if sufficiently cannily placed is brilliantly effective. For what more obvious source, in ‘the philosophy of the West’, for the sanctity of the family, and the status of ...

Your Mum and Dad

Paul Sayer, 2 February 1989

Thou shalt not uncover thy mother’s nakedness 
by George Hayim.
Quartet, 232 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 7043 2690 6
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My Father’s House 
by Sylvia Fraser.
Virago, 254 pp., £4.95, February 1989, 0 86068 181 5
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... inhabited by the famous and the artistic. There is an amusing anecdote about an encounter with Jean Genet in Venice, when Hayim introduces him to a ‘shocking’ but unspecified sexual act of apparently almost insurmountable difficulty. Hayim’s lonely, indulgent, likeable mother seems to have been the love of his life. He is heartbroken at her ...


Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett, 7 November 1985

... the 17th century, la maison came into the possession of Marie Desmares, known as la Champmeslé, Jean Racine’s mistress and the most famous tragedienne of her day. Racine died in a house in the Rue Visconti immediately behind la Champmeslé’s garden and Balzac’s printing-press: a plaque near a dismal doorway gives all but the medical details. The poet ...

Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... I got to the chapter featuring two people whose work I happen to know and love, Paul Bowles and Jean Genet, that the spell was broken. All of a sudden, this oddfellow’s odyssey didn’t feel quite so whimsical – it felt borderline exploitative, as though she was using these people, or their memory, to make herself look good. Bowles was sort of ...

Unmasking Monsieur Malraux

Richard Mayne, 25 June 1992

The Conquerors 
by André Malraux, translated by Stephen Becker.
Chicago, 198 pp., £8.75, December 1991, 0 226 50290 2
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The Temptation of the West 
by André Malraux, translated by Robert Hollander.
Chicago, 122 pp., £8.75, February 1992, 0 226 50291 0
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The Walnut Tree of Altenburg 
by André Malraux, translated by A.W. Fielding.
Chicago, 224 pp., £9.55, April 1992, 0 226 50289 9
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... then, ‘all his life long Malraux was an actor playing Malraux.’ A conscious echo, no doubt, of Jean Cocteau’s remark that ‘Victor Hugo was a mad-man who thought he was Victor Hugo.’ But Lottman’s – and others’ – objection to Malraux was less that he was mad than that he was misleading. ‘For all of his life André Malraux let it be ...


John Sturrock, 31 March 1988

The Tain of the Mirror: Derrida and the Philosophy of Reflection 
by Rodolphe Gasché.
Harvard, 348 pp., £19.95, December 1986, 0 674 86700 9
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by Christopher Norris.
Fontana, 271 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 00 686057 5
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The Truth in Painting 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod.
Chicago, 386 pp., £39.95, October 1987, 0 226 14323 6
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The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Alan Bass.
Chicago, 521 pp., £36.75, August 1987, 0 226 14320 1
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The Archaeology of the Frivolous: Reading Condillac 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by John Leavey.
Nebraska, 143 pp., $7.95, June 1987, 0 8032 6571 9
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... Glas should bear with him through the punishing tortuosities of its parallel texts on Hegel and on Jean Genet. The author of Glas is Derrida the writer, casting yet more doubt on the credentials of philosophy ‘proper’ by apparently allowing the surface accidents of language to call his own textual tune; the result is an arrogant show of that mix of ...

Minnesota Fates

Ferdinand Mount, 12 October 1989

We Are Still Married 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 330 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 14140 4
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... traumas and repressions inflicted on their author by his mother: the result is somewhere between Jean Genet and Huckleberry Finn, funny and sweet, but also horrible. Religion is a keenly contested matter in Lake Wobegon: If you’re not Catholic, you’re absolutely not Catholic. We don’t go in for nondenominationalism and tolerance. In the Bible we ...

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