The Thief's Journal

Jean Genet
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ISBN 9780571250332 Format Paperback
Published 19/03/2009 Length 240 pages

About Book

'It is the life of vermin that I am going to describe...'

Part-autobiography, part-fiction, The Thief's Journal (1949) is an account of Jean Genet's impoverished travels across 1930s Europe, through Spain and Antwerp with bits of occasional border-hopping. The narrator is guilty of vagrancy, petty theft and prostitution, but his writing transforms such degradations into the gilded rites of an inverted moral code, with Genet as its most devout adherent. Betrayal becomes worship; delinquency, heroism. Appropriating the language of the Church, Genet creates a homily to a trinity of his own making - homosexuality, theft and betrayal. The Thief's Journal was hailed by Jean-Paul Sartre, its author's most ebullient admirer, as 'the most beautiful book that Genet has written'.

'Genet has dramatized the story of his own life with a power and vision which take the breath away.' New York Post

  • About Jean Genet

    Jean Genet was born in Paris in 1910. An illegitimate child who never knew his parents, he was abandoned to the Public Assistance Authorities. He was ten when he was sent to a reformatory for stealing; thereafter he spent time in the prisons of nearly every country he visited in thirty years of prowling through the European underworld. With ten convictions for theft in France to his credit he was, the eleventh time, condemned to life imprisonment. Eventually he was granted a pardon by President Auriol as a result of appeals from France's leading artists and writers led by Jean Cocteau.$$$His first novel, Our Lady of the Flowers, was written while he was in prison, followed by Miracle of the Rose, the autobiographical The Thief's Journal, Querelle of Brest and Funeral Rites. He wrote six plays: The Balcony, The Blacks, The Screens, The Maids, Deathwatch and Splendid's (the manuscript of which was rediscovered only in 1993). Jean Genet died in 1986.

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