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Genet, Jean

life underworld french follows

(French, 1910–86)

Jean Genet spent much of his early life in the criminal underworld and was sentenced to life-imprisonment until his sentence was commuted following campaigns for his release. His major achievements lie in the theatre, where plays like The Maids (1948) helped to create the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ in the aftermath of the Second World War. His best-known prose work is The Thief's Journal (1954), an autobiographical account of his own life outside the norms of French society. Querelle of Brest (1953) follows a sailor who has left his ship, through various transient relationships, including one with a murderer, and Funeral Rites (1969) follows a 16-year-old boy's attempts to survive the Nazi occupation of France. Our Lady of the Flowers (1949) depicts the vicious underworld of Genet's own early experiences.

Edmund White, Jean-Paul Sartre, William T. Vollmann  WB

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