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The Maids and Deathwatch: Two Plays Paperback – February 16, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Revised edition (February 16, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080215056X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150561
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
83%
4 star
17%
3 star
0%
2 star
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1 star
0%
See all 6 customer reviews
It's not that "Deathwatch" is mediocre, it's just "The Maids" is that good.
calmly
There was a time when I would read anything the playwright Jean Genet wrote, especially his plays.
Alfred Johnson
Like other of Genet's works, it primaraly is concerned with Man's free will, or lack there-of.
John McCormack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By John McCormack on September 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Genet based 'The Maids' on an actual event, one he felt a certain kin-ship with. In 1933 french police found Madame Lancelin and her daughter face down, in their living room, utterly mutilated. The eyes had disappeared, all teeth had been knocked out, fragments of bone and flesh were strewn about the floor, walls covered in blood. Upstairs the two servant-maids, the Papin sisters, were found naked, huddled together in one of two single beds. Immediately they confessed. Immediately, also, the papers picked up the story. The public was facinated how these two soft-spoken, mild-mannered girls, without provocation could have acted with such wild brutality. Senseless, irrational violence - Genet's speciality. He uses this story as a means to attack conformaty. A massive revolt against obedience, servitude, and the upperclass. A bloody triumph of individuality . Like other of Genet's works, it primaraly is concerned with Man's free will, or lack there-of. It is an existential story , revealing the darker sides of freedom, and the horror of the responsibility that comes with it. A tale worthy of Genet's genious. Exellent translation. Fans of Genet should also Check out Octave Mirbeau.
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Many people find "The Maids" better than the novels of Genet, but it still has a tendency to attempt to shock and depend on artifice and theatricality to make its point.

"The Maids" has three characters: The older sister, Solange, who hates Madame and isn't afraid to show it, even though she's often maternal to her younger sister, Claire. Claire defends Madame at times and shows a creative streak. Madame is ditzy, sometimes generous - especially to Claire, and overly romantic toward her husband (or is it her lover?) who has been accused of various crimes by an unknown agent (it's the maids, of course).

If you don't know the set-up, the opening fantasy between "the maids" would be over the top and lead you to worry that you are in for a night of miserable theater. But once you figure out that they are play-acting and practicing the murder of their Madame, it all becomes much more interesting. Genet wanted the three characters to be played by men, which would explode the themes of falseness and theatricality. Like so much Genet, it starts out jokey, turns absurd, and ends tragically. I think that Solange's closing monologue is strangely moving as she moves between playing herself, her younger sister, and Madame. And the ending is shocking and sad, but I'm not sure that Genet is as interesting to read as he is to see or to discuss.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stalwart Kreinblaster on October 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have not read 'Deathwatch' yet but the'Maids' lived up to what I was expecting from Genet. To learn more about Genet, I would highly recommend his biography by Edmund White - this is one of the best biographies I have read.

The 'Maids' is a play in one act with three charactors. Within this act Genet captures the role-playing of the classes of society rather brilliantly. He does not capitalize on the brutality of the actual case of murder (it is based on an actual murder) but looks instead at the motivations for doing it. There is a film adaptation of the story called 'Murderous Maids' which is pretty good but focuses mainly on the act of murder - and throws in a lesbian twist.
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