- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (25 May 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140180540
- ISBN-13: 978-0140180541
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 872,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Miracle of the Rose (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 25 May 1989
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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
aura, as he does in this book. Jean Genet is one of a kind writer .
The beauty of the language aside -- and it is beautiful indeed -- the first emotion evoked at these dives down into (and below) the subhuman is pity, then sorrow, then shame; never heroism, never dignity, never defiance; only capitulation. Even Harcamone's "suicide by legal death sentence" (by killing a prison guard) seems more like a coward's escape than a hero's gallant exit to me.
Certainly there is an artistic backside to all of this that cannot be denied. I have not missed the delicacy of Genet's language: It is like Miles Davis' tone of walking on eggshell raised to a new level. His ability to pack his language with inchoate hatred and anger has no peers: it must have been what Emile Griffith was thinking just before he unleashed the fusillade that killed Benny "Kid" Paret in the ring in 1962. However, beautiful language as a lament is still a lament, unless the whole fabric of the story is pulled together to a higher psychological plane.
So far, I have not seen Genet do that in this much-praised book. I have several others of his, and I will be watching like a hawk to see if this psychological circle is closed. Without that, for me at least, this is a three star effort.
There are many nuggets of beauty scattered throughout the novel which will reward the patient reader especially if one is not put off by same sex relationships between prisoners and descriptions of harshness and violence in prison and controversial and exotic opinions and dreams about life in these conditions.
Describing why he had to pretend to be tough and uninterested in a younger prisoner whom he desired Genet describes his feelings: "I made a final effort to lock myself in behind a door that might have revealed my heart's secret and enabled Bulkaen (the younger prisoner) to enter me as he would a conquered country, mounted, in boots and spurs, holding a whip, with an insult on his lips, for a youngster is never gentle with a man who worships him. I replied therefore roughly; Your friendship? Who the hell wants your friendship!"
In a late scene in the story the author's character is forced by seven older big shot prisoners to stand with his mouth stretched as open as possible as the others took turns spitting into his mouth and face. "Yet a trifle would have sufficed for the ghastly game to be transformed into a courtly one and for me to be covered not with spit but roses that had been tossed at me...it would cost no more for them to hurl happiness...I waited for roses..."
There are really some fantastic reviews for this book on here, so I'll try to cover some new ground in a brief manner.
A lot of people have no idea who Genet is. He died in 1986, just in the finishing stages of a book (Prisoner of Love)... his first since the Thief's Journal, almost 30 years before it. He had surfaced briefly to author some of the most incredible dramatic works ever... in fact, far greater than his novels, and his novels are some of the greatest of all time (definitely ranks with Dostoevsky).
There is no explanation for Genet. He wrote Our Lady of the Flowers in prison, and it was a masterpiece. And the he wrote four more. And then he stopped. Just like Shakespeare, he came from nowhere, and he stopped when he decided it was time to stop. His books are intensly 'evil', but they're also incredibly lyrical and always beautiful. They're also quite profound, not just morally, but also in the way that he freely transposes his world, interacts with his creation, and commands powerful meanings from the simplest gestures. Specifically this book deals with his obsession with a fellow prisoner, condemned to die for a murder. The book is the process by which Harcamone (the murderer) develops and blooms in Genet's mind, ultimately culminating in a feverish and spiritually tormented vision of the mystery of Harcamone. His works make effective use of the ritual and spiritual processes, and although I don't believe they will make you evil, I think you'll find that your imagination will be enlightened, and you will be able to view the mundane world around you in a new and passionately intense way after reading his books. Genet realized that everything has the power to become significant and sanctified through our imagination, and he's especially good to read if you are at all interested in Nietzsche, Freud or anything dealing with existentialism. If you haven't read him, do not do anything until you do. If you have, make sure you let some people borrow your books... those of us who love his work need to make sure we do our best not to let him fall into obscurity.