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Funeral Rites Paperback – September 25, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0571251544 ISBN-10: 0571251544

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Funeral Rites + Our Lady of the Flowers + The Thief's Journal
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (September 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571251544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571251544
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,266,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By The Wingchair Critic on October 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Despite its title, Jean Genet's 'Funeral Rites' (1949) is considerably less desperate and less grim a novel than his others; here, Genet's stand-in narrator (Jean) sounds more boastful and vainglorious than threatening or threatened.

Taking place in Paris during the Nazi occupation and just after, this is Genet's most psychologically incestuous book, one in which almost every character is linked to the others by undiscussed or only infrequently acknowledged sexual affairs. Despite the violent emotions the characters feel for one another, when they actually speak, their words are banal, monosyllabic, and thus lacking in complex information; the only extensive dialogues are internal. Genet's philosophy is clearly stated: "Speech kills, poisons, mutilates, distorts, dirties."

As the book opens, Genet's love object--a young resistance fighter also named Jean--has just been killed and buried. There are extended early passages about the dejection Genet feels; he states that "the book is completely devoted to the cult of a dead person with whom I am living on intimate terms." However, Genet questions whether the 'Jean' to whom the book is dedicated is the dead man or himself, and soon refers to him as "my poor Jean-in-the-box" and thinks of him as "changing into fertilizer." Eventually Jean becomes something of an afterthought, as Genet turns away from the dead towards his lust for the living.

The conversational, episodic plot concerns Genet's interactions with the remaining members of Jean's family, as well as with German Erik, former Hitler Youth member and current tank-driver for Hitler, and youthful French traitor Riton, a collaborator with the Reich.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of Genet's lesser known works and not his best but it has an interesting theme in the second half of the book which follows the life of imaginary Riton a Nazi collaborator in occupied Paris in 1944. Parallel to the account of Riton and his love for a German soldier is the grief of Genet the narrator over the death of French resistance fighter and lover Jean. It is Genet's sympathetic portrayal of Riton and rational explanation that for a young petty thief, a gun and food from the Germans was a better bet than the life of a patriotic resistance fighter which captured my interest. Genet's well documented struggles with authority gives authenticity to this novel as you become aware of the difference of patriotism within a nation and that the poor are less concerned who is ruling their country than those who have something to lose.
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A fairly large number of The Book Discussion Group met at The LGBT Center in NYC in November to discuss "Funeral Rites" by Jean Genet. I'm constantly impressed at the smart and thoughtful commentary that the group was able to provide for such a disturbing book.

This is Genet's final novel before he moved on to drama. All of us found this to be one of hardest books we've read. While supposedly a loving eulogy of his late lover, Jean D., who was killed on the front lines during World War II, Genet created a meandering and episodic hell for readers. Genet shifts very suddenly from being the narrator to an active character in the story (including the eulogized Jean D., a Nazi soldier, and Jean of Arc).

The novel is full of gas and scatology, some of it rather funny. The language waivers between vivid hot sex and raunchy pornography.

The characters are generally unlikeable:
-- Giselle is the pretentious mother of Jean D, who is being eulogized.
-- Eric is a sexy German soldier on the lam, who is Giselle's lover and also has sex with fellow soldiers without any moralizing or restraint.
-- Juliette is Jean D's surviving fiancé, an unattractive orphan beggar who is raped at the funeral of Jean D's and her new-born daughter.
-- Paulo is Jean D's brother, who is depicted as having sex with Hitler at one point.
-- The Executioner (who also has sex with men) has a thick and beautiful neck but is responsible for cleaning up after Hitler's trysts with young boys. (Yes, this book is full of hallucinatory fantasy.)
-- Riton, however, is the most ambiguous and disturbing character. He is a handsome and repulsive soldier, who Genet loves as a French collaborator with the Nazis.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "b-l-guthrie" on November 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Though not for the faint of heart (it's by far his most graphic and violent novel), this book has some of Genet's most poetic moments. Serving as both a bittersweet eulogy to Genet's dead lover and as an exploration of his own feelings regarding WWII France, the book's subject matter is explosive, keeping emotions at a fever pitch throughout the whole of the novel. While it lacks the range and coherancy of "The Thief's Journal" (his later novel) and is probably not the best choice if you've never read Genet before (try "Our Lady of the Flowers" or "The Thief's Journal" first), it is nonetheless well worth the read.
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