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Funeral Rites is the most bizarre and the least authentic of Genet's novels. Ostensibly a memorial to the author's lover, Jean Decarnin, a young Resistance fighter murdered by the Germans or the Vichy-supported Milice during the liberation of Paris, the book is actually the ""epic of masturbation"" Sartre mistakenly saw in Our Lady of the Flowers. Amidst an apocalyptic coupling of soldiers and traitors, foaming metaphors and surrealist hymns, Genetian sex--huffing and puffing, burrowing and slurping--towers over all. It is an erotic fantasy, strangely acrid and sweet, a ""documentary"" of the closing months before the liberation, in which Genet, with his usual transvaluation of values, attempts to exorcise the memory of the brave Decarnin by recreating the nightmare world of the enemy camp. Thus the handsome Nazi, Lt. Seiler, formerly the lover of Decarnin's mother, meets and seduces Riton, a teenage Milicien (who may, after all, have killed Decarnin), while Paulo, Decarnin's younger brother (probably a collaborator), pulls off the coup de theatre when he's bedded and bamboozled by--of all people--the Fuehrer himself. These preposterous liaisons are full of melodramatic and pornographic effrontery of the most startling and personal sort. Still, it's a tribute to Genet's genius that even within a landscape so singularly extreme and ludicrous, the novel has moments of power, poetic subtlety, and beauty. Ironically, it is the portrait of Decarnin's mistress, the little maid Juliette, which is the most memorable--a characterization, in fact, worthy of Flaubert.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
ISBN: 0802130879
Publisher: Grove