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Our Lady of the Flowers (Paladin Books) Paperback – 21 Jan 1988

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Paperback, 21 Jan 1988
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Paladin; New edition edition (21 Jan. 1988)
  • ISBN-10: 0586086951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586086957
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,640,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

'Our Lady of the Flowers', which is often considered to be Genet's masterpiece, was written entirely in the solitude of a prison cell. the exceptional value of the work lies in its ambiguity. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME on 14 April 2002
Format: Paperback
'Our Lady of the Flowers' is the best novel by Jean Genet- a victim of the intolerant French prison system (not unlike 'three strikes & you're out in the USA). Allusions are drawn to another French writer, famously incarcerated: the Marquis de Sade. This only goes so far- true that both '120 Days of Sodom' & 'Our Lady of the Flowers' were written in prison. And early drafts were destroyed or withdrawn... But Genet was more modern than de Sade (obviously)- here he writes about the senses- a theme common to modernist works such as 'Tropic of Cancer' & 'Ulysses'. Though I feel his closest literary relations are Ferdinand Celine: the Vichy-collaborator & William S. Burroughs. His influence can be detected in the more erotic elements of JG Ballard- notably 'Crash'...In this novel, which has a thoughtful foreword by Jean Paul Sartre, Genet takes us to the internal abyss he occupies. And describes how he transcends this to make it a heaven... but it is taken to a level of Holy praise...This is probably Genet's masterpiece- though 'Miracle of the Rose' & 'Querelle of Brest' are close. I don't think you have to possess homosexual inclinations to get something out of this book...As with writers like Charles Bukowski & Hubert Selby Jr. Genet is a self-educated man from 'the other side of life' (to quote from 'Journey to the End of the NIght'). Unlike Sade he was not from the upper-classes, nor was he from the middle-class; he was from the streets. Almost a prefigured character for a Jacques Brel song. As the foreword tells you, the French Existentialists (Sartre et al) who would later turn obliquely Marxist, campaigned to have Genet released. And this is the end product of that. It is also one of the finest fictions of the 20th Century.
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What can one say about Genet? I have read all his works (or all I am aware of), and this is probably my favourite. Though it is a hard choice. Genet is a writer one lives with and grows with... The kind of writer one needs to recommend today simply because the age is too breezy and impatient for the best of literature at times.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Genet was in prison when he wrote this brilliant and sparkling book. His spirit floats free of his prison cell and he peoples his world with a cast of petty thieves, homosexuals and murderers. From this material he constructs a literary masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback
Whats all the fuss about jean genet? Well sartre said he was "comedian and martyr" dont know about the martyr bit but our lady is funny in places. I think genet loved the drama of being put in jail because he was a bit of a nutcase. A very bright nutcase! The best bits in this novel are the courtroom drama where our lady is tried for murder (the mocking of societies morality and the depiction of our lady as the risen Christ is frankly juvenile and idiotic) but its quite funny. I never bothered to read our lady all the way through because it goes on and on droning about not much a lot of the time. I can see why some gays see this book as a gay manifesto because it shows the weakness and vulnerability of gay men and then the beauty (even other worldly religious beauty) of revolt in the face of crime and punishment. The idea of criminality being beautiful isnt really original i mean some women find criminality in men attractive as an antidote to the boredom of life thats nothing new. What is different about Genet is the utter randomness of his existence as the illigitimate son of a prostitute that mustve felt awfully empty and rootless. Maybe that empty feeling about his existence fuelled his contempt for morality and intense feelings of revolt. I really get the comedy in this book but it doesnt half drone a lot!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Regarded as his finest work, this is a mixture of memories, facts, fantasies, speculations, irrational dreams, tender emotion, empathy, and philosophy: `one must lie to be true...what sort of truth do I want to talk about?'

He alludes to another incarcerated French writer, the Marquis de Sade. He takes us to the internal abyss that he occupies and describes how he transcends this to make it a heaven. He probably made his isolation bearable by retreating into a world not only of his own making, but one over which he had total control.

He masturbates regularly; his fantasies fuel his writing and his writing spurs on his fantasies in turn.... Legs thrown over shoulders, "Jean" is not only the serpent that eats its tail but becomes a small, circular, self - imbibing universe all his own. The alchemists' motto could his own: "Every man his own wife."
The book is full of different phallic images e.g. hat pins, the Eucharistic host, holy water sprinkler.

He praises the sanctity of `tea rooms' as being like churches, though with a different object of worship.

He extols the criminal underclass as aristocratic and he made his solemn entrance through the door of crime aged 16.

His "moral universe" is a mirror universe where amorality reigns; his world is so exclusively concerned with flea - ridden prostitutes, child murderers who don't wipe themselves, handsome pimps who eat what they scratch out of their noses, [prostitutes] with rotting teeth, strutting, uneducated alpha male hustlers, and masochistic sodomites.
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