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Miracle of the Rose (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 25 May 1989

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Paperback, 25 May 1989
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Product details

  • 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)
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Product description

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The beauty of this book is that it is written in a totally modernistic way, the writer engages you from the start describing his love of the degredation and violent homosexuality he endured and learnt to love, in his time in the children's home. It is an important book because it takes the most shocking of circumstances and turns them into a beautiful love story showing the endless triumph the beauty of the willing thug that is the ' miracle of the rose.' He describes a quite beautiful book that should make most modern writers of social realism wake up and examine the patronising angle they take on societies ill's and the dispossesed. Really, really heartbreakingly good.
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Format: Paperback
Exploration of the aspirations of young people in France and the portaits of them when incarcerated in Mettray and Fontevrault. The prose is quite watery but the descriptive power quite amazing. A nuanced portrayal of men in prison and their inner lives. It is an extraordinary subtle book which touches on music, dress and identity. The contextual skills are sublime. Jean Genet is a true artist.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.2 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The light of the darkness 22 Jan. 2002
By Ventura Angelo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jean Genet is the most exquisite of the poets maudits. Every word of him has the bittersweet savour of the pleasures of hell. You'll love his obsession whit nasty hoodlums which he transmogrifies in almost saintly objects of desire. Genet is an artist on sublimating the most earthly feeling in almost mystical esperiences, and in giving the most dreary places and situations a sensual or mystic (you almost cannot distinguish )
aura, as he does in this book. Jean Genet is one of a kind writer .
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Vignettes strung together without a psychological punch line? 3 Mar. 2009
By Herbert L Calhoun - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am sure there must be deeper existential lessons to be learned here that I have missed, as Genet delves into the depths of the degradation of prison life and in particular into a rash of homosexual trysts, spanning several prisons and Reform Schools. However, whatever the larger message is, it seems to me it has been missed or is overshadowed by a familiar and troubling but very common psychological motif: The desire to make his netherworld, his underworld at the outer border of human degradation, seem normal and pathetically heroic in the same way that any victimized subgroups uses denial and pretense to romanticize, enlarge and otherwise turn their indignities in life into heroic actions via literary device. If this interpretation is correct. It is not an entirely honest way of using language to rise above an embarrassing reality. And really, how heroic is that?

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.
3.0 out of 5 stars Rambling recollections of prison life and fantasies 5 Oct. 2016
By Garry S Post - Published on
Format: Paperback
Jean Genet's Miracle of the Rose is a struggle to read and a relief to finish. The semi-autobiographical novel, Genet's second, has an "extraordinarily tangled" narrative line in the words of Edmund White, who wrote a comprehensive autobiography of Genet. The story is based on the author's reminiscences of his teenage years in the Mettray prison for youth and his adult years in another prison in France including years of the German occupation in WWII. In Genet's fantastical telling the foulness of prison life becomes saintliness and pain and suffering become imbued with religious-like meaning and beauty. "I am carried along...into prison, into foulness, into dreaming and hell, and finally lands me in a garden of saintliness where roses bloom..."

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 would cost no more for them to hurl happiness...I waited for roses..."
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutally honest and written with a keen and generous hand. 23 Jun. 1998
By, Alvarado. - Published on
Format: Paperback
Jean Genet's ``Miracle Of The Rose. '' is a modern masterpiece written by one of France's most tortured and brillian writers. An honest reflection of prison, men, love and pain; the characters fix together in a brutal recollection of childhood memories, lost loves, hope and the fight against stagnation and conformity within the bleak and often romantic prison walls. Genet, writes firsthand as having been orphaned and raised in a disciplinary `warehouse 'for wayward youth. He was imprisoned several times during his lifetime and ``The Miracle Of The Rose. '' is a journal of his experiences there, the prison becomes the setting for secret romances and courthships, the saintliness of the prisoner who turns his chains into roses and the connection between these men who have shared their lives together. Hitting upon the often vilified role of sex in prison and love between men, Genet makes the characters all the more human for the brutality of his recollection. He sweetly takes EVIL in hand and charges pornography with poetry and pain with pleasure. Combining the complexity of the human soul and the God fearing body, Genet has written a book that supercedes any of Sade's wildest fantasies or greater humanitarian views. Genet is considered one of Modern Europe's greatest writers and was succesfully petitioned out of a life time prison sentence in France by Sartre and other leading intellectuals and visionaries, Genet's, `` Miracle Of The Rose '' is a riveting must.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The master of the 20th Century 25 Sept. 2004
By M. Mclain - Published on
Format: Paperback
In the 60's, it was cool to like Genet. Ginsberg even made a reference to the boys in Kansas reading him (aspiring to a future when even the clodhoppers would be enlightened).

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.
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