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Querelle Paperback – January 13, 1994
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Top Customer Reviews
Querelle can be interpreted in many ways - but it cannot be disputed that this story is in a way about the double nature of all human beings. Readers of 'Our Lady of the Flowers' will be familiar with this rich puzzling theme. Genet creates a world, in which, the most hidden desires of men are amplified to the extent that these very desires become a personality unto themseselves. In a way these characters become prisoners to their own fantasies (much of Genet's writing has something to do with prison) and in a most tragic way. The character of Madame Lysiane, for example, is the clearest picture of this imprisonment. She is involved with the two brothers and the neglective Nono - never fully accepted or loved by any one person - she has to live a fragmented life giving parts of herself to many different people at the same time.
What makes Genet brilliant is not necesarrily just his portrait of the double, however. There is a certain inevitability in his writing. He seems to believe in a certain fate for all things. His embracing of fate consistently in his prose - makes him, like Kafka, stand out among other writers. He truly was a poet of the highest order. I would recommend starting with 'Querelle' - it is a nice introduction to Genet's work and is perhaps the easiest of all his books to get into.
The title character of Genet's novel is a handsome, seductive, sociopathic sailor who has linked the act of theft and murder into a ritual of mystical transcendence. Not that Querelle himself would see it that way inasmuch as he is a figuration of Genet's ideal beautiful male--a pretty brute, an amoral monster of transcendent physical perfection. Querelle travels the world by ship, murdering and stashing loot at every port, loving them and leaving them, whoever they may be.
It helps if you can put aside your own sexual proclivities while reading *Querelle* otherwise it's easy to feel alienated by his creation of the quintessential "homo-fatale." The novel is a rat's warren of crime, sex, and betrayal between its cast of characters--cops, dockworkers, informers, pimps, naval officers, and drug dealers that might be summed up in the words of Mick Jaeger's and Keith Richards' *Sympathy for the Devil*: "Every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints.Read more ›
I often found myself reminded of my favorite novelist, Dostoevsky, while reading _Querelle_, not only for the redolent, foggy atmosphere but for the extended meditation on evil. While Dostoevsky's works concerned themselves with redemption from evil, however, in many ways Genet writes about evil (or at least criminality) as itself redemptive in some way--that is, when he isn't calling the very notion of redemption itself into question as a liberal humanist fantasy.
But what I like the most about this book is not its intellectuality, though there's plenty of that. I most enjoyed how his characters--unbelievably, even uninimaginably bizarre--became in his hands almost commonplace and real. Like Toni Morrison in a different, evil register, Genet's cast is quirky and out-there yet, somehow, not odd at all. Through their very strangeness they become the best exemplars of our real selves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I always thought the film of Querelle was a classic. After recently watching it again, I decided to re-read the book. Genet's books are challenging but worth the time invested.Published on May 11, 2014 by Dog Friendly
Shows the struggle between good and evil, heterosexual and homosexual tendencies. It's almost like a real account of what life is verses for instance stories that are reluctant to... Read morePublished on March 18, 2014 by Jerry Tamayo
Best read in one sitting as the visual images are just not there. A difficult read at the best of times.Published on September 24, 2012 by Wrajax
Perhaps, without the graphic description of homo-eroticism Genet has indulged in, this novel would have been impressive as a tale of pure evil. Read morePublished on May 23, 2009 by B. T. Sampath
"Querelle" is the only exposure I have had to Genet's work, and this only after watching the excellent Fassbinder film adaptation. Read morePublished on September 25, 2004 by Kindle Customer