Other Literary Forms
Jean Genet’s literary career began with a small group of lyric poems, highly personal in subject matter, the first of which was the 1942 work “Le Condamné à mort” (“The Man Condemned to Death”). Collected in Poèmes (1948), their quality has been a matter of much debate. Genet has written four novels, Notre-Dame des Fleurs (1944, 1951; Our Lady of the Flowers, 1949), Miracle de la rose (1946, 1951; Miracle of the Rose, 1966), Pompes funèbres (1947, 1953; Funeral Rites, 1968), and Querelle de Brest (1947, 1953; Querelle of Brest, 1966). His autobiographical work, Journal du voleur (The Thief’s Journal, 1954) appeared in its original version in 1948 (only four hundred copies were printed), with a revised and expurgated version appearing in 1949. This so-called autobiography is perhaps more allegorical than factual, yet it remains the only available source on Genet’s early adult years. Genet’s ballet scenario, Adame miroir, with music by Darius Milhaud, was performed by the Ballets Roland Petit in 1946. His nonfiction includes essays on the philosophy of art, the most important being the 1957 “L’Atelier d’Alberto Giacometti” (“Giacometti’s Studio”) and the 1958 “Le Funambule” (“The Funambulists”); essays on dramatic theory, the most important of these being “Lettre à Pauvert sur les Bonnes,” an open letter to the publisher Jean-Jacques Pauvert in 1954 concerning The Maids and including the letters to Roger Blin concerning the production of The Screens (collected as Letters to Roger Blin, 1969); and a series of sociopolitical broadsheets, including pamphlets in defense of the Black Panthers and the Palestinian liberation movement. His four-volume uvres complètes appeared in 1952.