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The Thief's Journal Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reissue edition (February 2, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780802130143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130143
  • ASIN: 0802130143
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This one does, and as such, I think it is the best introduction to his work.
DAJ
Genet seeks to travel deeper and deeper within himself in order to reject "your world" as well as its inherent value and morals systems.
Jason Sickmon (stilitano@hotmail.com)
It is very clear and detailed and he pours the same great poetic prose into it - that he gave books like 'Our Lady' and 'Querelle'.
Stalwart Kreinblaster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Barnes on September 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
In Jean Genet's complex novel 'The Thief's Journal' (1949), the author has modeled his protagonist, Jean, on himself, and the loose, conversational plot after his own experiences as a young thief, drifter, and poet in thirties and forties Europe.

'Jean' is Genet's fictional recreation of himself; but readers should keep in mind that Jean's relationship to Genet is to some degree imaginative. The book provides an excellent illustration of how even when speaking or writing with as complete an honesty as believed possible, man is still caught in a process of creation, structuring, and discrimination--a process of fictionalization. Therefore, honesty, sincerity, and truthfulness always retain elements of artifice, and, as pure states, remain ideals only.

Abandoned by his family as a boy, sentenced to reform school at sixteen, as a young man, Jean is still "alone, rigorously so," he lives "with desolation in satanic solitude." Realizing early that he is, in status and nature, completely at odds with the social order, Jean learns through trial and error how to care and not to care, how to make all possible outcomes to his actions reasonably acceptable.

"Rejecting the world that rejected me," Jean exacerbates his position: identifying with his rejectee status, he feels it appropriate that he should "aggravate this condition with a preference for boys." Thus his homosexuality is at least partially an act of self-creation, part of his perverse desire to transgress the rules of order as broadly as possible. Jean decides he will henceforth admit to guilt whenever accused, regardless of the truth or the nature of the crime, and thus rob his accusers of the ability to jeopardize his fate.

"Betrayal, theft, and homosexuality are the basic subject of this book," he says.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jason Sickmon (stilitano@hotmail.com) on July 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
I don't think I would categorize The Thief's Journal as Gay fiction. I would allign it more with existentialism/metaphysics in that Genet's sensibilities and motives lie in other areas than solely his own homosexuality. Genet seeks to travel deeper and deeper within himself in order to reject "your world" as well as its inherent value and morals systems. I think his own homosexuality is among one of the many plateaus or steps that he uses in his "journey". As he says, his life was open to his own interpretation; the signs were interpreted in his own way for his own purposes. Sometimes Genet's prose is heavy in that his lines are long and he uses run-ons separated by commas. He takes great care in his descriptions (necessarily so) such as the gob of white saliva in the corner of someone's mouth. The work is another bold gesture by a man who brings the reader as close to the author as is seemingly possible. Another reviewer here says to check out Celine. Make sure to read the editions translated by Ralph Mannheim, he's superb.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By jacob cohen on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is mesmerising. The distinction between the beautiful and the obscene is folded inside out like a velvet glove. Abjection has never seemed so appealing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
Jean Genet suffers a lot, I think, due to popular culture...the fact that his works necessarily involve homosexual activities leads mainstream culture (including even university professors!) to marginalize him beyond all rational limits, and leads conversely, the gay community to celebrate him possibly a little too much...but that's just my opinion. The fact is that he's a master of language, and when he writes about almost anything, it's transformed into an incredible landscape of experience, thought, desire, motives. In most of his purely fictional works he acts as an omniscient narrator to describe exactly why the characters do as they do...and in a way that not only makes perfect sense, but also in a way that the reader probably never thought of. This work being mostly autobiographical differs, actually, not much. If all you asked of this book was to take you into the world of small-time crime and skid row activities of barely post world war II europe, you'll be more than happily surprised. If you demand more, direct transportation even, to the world he was living in, you won't be disappointed.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
Genet's "the Thief's Journal" is to me his greatest novel-if that's whatyou want to categorize it as.
The only reason I don't say its his greatest book is because of a wonderful book called "Prisoner of Love", and who knows what may turn up altho I doubt much of anything as he was so private and transient. Anyway, it clearly maps out the genesis of his artistic, sexual, and criminal life. For any gay male reader, it is essential, higher in priority than almost any other gay fiction. Of course, it is essential not just to gays but any serious reader. On a final note it is also quite accessible. so if you tried reading "Our Lady..." or others I think you will be pleasantly surprised and absorbed. If you like French novels of the forties you might also check out the writer Celine. He is quite caustic and brilliant and many of his novels are in English. For cultural referents, Todd Haynes film "Poison" wa in part inspired by Genet and John Waters named Glenn Milstead "DIVINE" from one of Genet's novels. So there you are
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