Jana Evans Braziel, Assistant Professor
229B Mc Micken Hall
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0069
Office # (513) 556-0834
Fax # (513) 556-5960
Biography -- Jean Genet
[Based on E. White, Genet: A Biography. Knopf, 1993.]
December 10, 1910 Birth of Jean Genet at the Tanier Childbirth Clinic in Paris to Camille Gabrielle Genet (age 22), who was a Parisian prostitute
July 28, 1911 Camille Genet abandons her son to an orphanage; Genet becomes a ward of the state and never see his mother again
July 30, 1911 Placed in the foster home of Eugénie and Charles Regnier, who raise Genet until he is thirteen, but he is placed in a nearby public school at the age of five
December 30, 1923 At the age of thirteen, Genet's legal status changes from foster child to "domestic servant" (E. White, Genet, xxii), and he is removed from school
April-December 1925 Genet undergoes psychiatric evaluation and "neuro-psychiatric treatment" (xxiii) after embezzling money from his guardian, René de Buxeuil
February 1926 Genet runs away from the Patronage, an Adolescent Organization, but is captured and returned to the home two days later
March 1926 Genet escapes again, and is turned over to the police who hold him for 3 months
July 1926 Flees parole, attempting to leave by train but is arrested for not having a valid ticket
September 1926 After serving 45 days, the court acquits Genet but also sentences him to remain in a juvenile penitentiary colony for the next 2 years. Thus begins Genet's life of crime; the time during which he was imprisoned at Mettray was very influential in forming both Genet's "gay identity" and his life as a writer. In both, he remains resistant to what he perceives as the corrupt institutionalization bourgeois French values, as manifest in the French government and judicial system.
March 1, 1929 Genet enrolls in the French army in order to get out of Mettray.
January 1930 Genet's battalion is sent to Syria, where he has his first contact with the Arabic world. This experience grounds his later alliance with the Palestinians and the Algerians, in revolution, because he regards the colonized -- like orphans, gays, and the poor -- as victims of French oppression.
December 1933 Free from his first military obligation; begins life of vagabondage across Europe, living as a beggar, thief, and prostitute.
April 1934 Signs up for a new tour in the army; but deserts the army in 1936.
January 1938 After two years as a fugitive, Genet is tried as a deserter and imprisoned in a military prison.
1939-1942 Genet continues his life of vagary and spends these years in and out of jail; while in prison, he begins Our Lady of the Flowers, a book that is introduced to Jean Cocteau who undertakes having the book published in 1943.
May 29, 1943 Genet is arrested for stealing a rated edition of Fêtes galantes by Verlaine; because he is a repeat offender, he is liable for life imprisonment; through the intervention of Cocteau and other French intellectuals, who admired Genet's writings, Genet's sentence was reduced to three months. During the same year, Our Lady of the Flowers began to circulate underground.
March 1944 Through the intervention of French writers and intellectuals, Genet is released from prison; he never returns to prison or a life of theft, although his fiction continues to focus on crime as an act of resistance to institutional power. Later in this same year, Genet meets Jean-Paul Sartre, who was to have a tremendous influence on his literary reception (through the publication of Saint Genet in 1952).
The Maids (1946) and Deathwatch (1947). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1954.
The Balcony (1955). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1958.
The Blacks (1955). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1960.
The Screens (1955-58). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1962.
Our Lady of the Flowers (1942). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1963.
The Thief's Journal (1946-48). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1965.
Miracle of the Rose (1943-44). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1965.
Funeral Rites (1944-45). Translated by Bernard Frechtman. Grove Press, 1970.
Querelle (1946). Translated by Anselm Hollo. Grove Press, 1974.
Treasures of the Night: Collected Poems of Jean Genet. Translated by Steven Finch. Gay Sunshine, 1981.
The complete Poems of Jean Genet. Translated by David Fisher. ManRoot, l981.
Prisoner of Love (1986). Translated by Barbara Bray. Wesleyan University Press, 1992.
Film: Song of Love (1950)
Film script: The Penal Colony (1952-60)
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