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Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet


Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

Translated by Bernard Frechtman and with an introduction by Jean-Paul Sartre (who famously hailed the novel as an 'epic of masturbation'), Our Lady of the Flowers was first written on brown paper in a French prison. A guard who uncovered this unapproved activity confiscated Jean Genet's manuscript and burned it. Undaunted, Genet wrote it afresh. After private and small-press publications, its acceptance in 1951 by Gallimard put Genet immediately into the front rank of French writers. 'Our Lady of the Flowers' himself is a 16-year-old hoodlum who has fulfilled his destiny by strangling an old man. In the world of Our Lady - a world of pimps, thieves, prostitutes, queens and blackmailers - 'morality' in the common sense of the word has no meaning. But Genet's fervent fantasies from a prison cell, crystallizing around the handsome forms of his criminal heroes, are a transcendence of his straitened surroundings.

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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Book Info

Publication date

16th April 2009


Jean Genet

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Faber & Faber


318 pages


Classic fiction (pre c 1945)



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