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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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... JeanGenet’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. But being a practical man he was not one to reject attention. What is extraordinary ...
9 March 1995
... and gay culture in particular enjoy more visibility in Britain than in the States; it was British television, after all, that made a series out of Tales of the City, that featured my own biography of JeanGenet 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 ...

Short Cuts

Elisabeth Ladenson: Autofriction

20 September 2007
... scholar. A la recherche du temps perdu is probably the earliest example of autofiction (which is why it was initially criticised for its strange hybrid nature). Céline, Henry Miller, Colette and JeanGenet 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 ...

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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... not propose a general or ‘encompassing’ thesis. Having insisted that methods and messages are diverse and individual, he settles down to record them, beginning with Gore Vidal and ending with JeanGenet. 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 ...

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 JeanGenet 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 ...

At Tate Modern

Jeremy Harding: Giacometti

16 August 2017
... I still see it darkly at the far end of a corridor of brilliant commentary. There are many entries here for the writers who took up with him – Georges Bataille, Michel Leiris, Sartre and Beauvoir, JeanGenet 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 ...

The Prisoner

Michael Wood

10 June 1993
Genet 
by Edmund White.
Chatto, 820 pp., £25, June 1993, 9780701133979
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... then a few days later, his sentence having been remitted, gets caught again, this time in the act of 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 ...

On David King

Susannah Clapp

21 June 2018
... King took a magnificent picture of the art critic David Sylvester – and dug up an extraordinary billowing image of Isaac Babel. In 1989 he arrived with a previously unpublished photograph of JeanGenet, 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 ...
5 June 1980
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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... procedure of Glas? All down the left-hand column runs the text of Hegel’s account of the Family in The Philosophy of Right. All down the right-hand column runs a text from the writings of JeanGenet. 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 ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett

7 November 1985
...  la maison – and this calls for historical extrapolation. At some moment in the latter half of 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 ...
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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... unsatisfactory love affairs, his endless avoidance of work and his lingering on the periphery of a world inhabited by the famous and the artistic. There is an amusing anecdote about an encounter with JeanGenet 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 ...
4 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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... dentist’s.) For the first half​ of the book, she had me: I happily surrendered. It was only when I got to the chapter featuring two people whose work I happen to know and love, Paul Bowles and JeanGenet, 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 ...
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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... with convincing personae who might reasonably have taken part in it’. Faint praise indeed. But 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 ...

Sabotage

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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Derrida 
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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... not ask for his ostracism as a Madman, it merely found fault with his presumption that readers of Glas should bear with him through the punishing tortuosities of its parallel texts on Hegel and on JeanGenet. 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 ...

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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... their Halloween pizza party. The theses are a half-crazed, drunken indictment of all the gentilities, traumas and repressions inflicted on their author by his mother: the result is somewhere between JeanGenet 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 ...

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