MIRACLE OF THE ROSE by Jean Genet

MIRACLE OF THE ROSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Miracle of the Rose is the most autobiographical of Jean Genet's writings. It is also the most thoroughly erotic, though--since the competition is pretty stiff--not necessarily the most sexually outrageous. Composed in La Sante Prison during the early Forties, right after completing the masterful Our Lady of the Flowers, Miracle lacks to a notable, if hardly disabling, degree its antecedent's singularity and grace, as well as the diabolic fervor of the later Pompes Funebres and Querelle de Brest, novels yet to be translated. In its deadpan reportage of burglary, for example, it resembles The Thief's Journal, while the lyric buggery and agitated, somewhat mushy, romanticism appear to be drawn from his little known verse. Prison, both as symbol and fact, ritual and humiliation, dominates the book: the narrative--elusive, plotless, shifting--memorializes the Mettray reformatory where Genet spent his childhood and the Fontevrault cell block of his twenties. ""Prisons are full of mouths that lie,"" he states at one point, warningly. Yet a troubling veracity pulses throughout. Despite all the bizarre couplings--scatological vulgarity and Platonic musings, theatrical transfigurations and assorted crimes--in the end Genet works up, at moments with astonishing phenomenological power, that indispensable ingredient of genius, what James called ""felt life."" ""Shame isolates,"" says Sartre; ""As does pride, which is the obverse of shame."" Whether fatalistically idolizing Narcamone, the present assassin-hero, or probing his host of handsome hoods, whom he betrays and who betray and who betray him, Genet creates out of impossibly grubby matter, a solitary, mythic aura, really beyond either shame or pride, a strikingly individualized life-style, his miracle here and elsewhere.

ISBN: 0802130887
Publisher: Grove