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Historicism With Jean Genet's Querelle Essay

2458 words - 10 pages

"I recognize in thieves, traitors and murderers, in the ruthless and the cunning, a deep beauty-a sunken beauty." (Jean Genet)
"I'm homosexual... How and why are idle questions. It's a little like wanting to know why my eyes are green." (Jean Genet)
A nod of acknowledgement and understanding should descend upon every head that has read Querelle and is aware that Jean Genet is the author after looking at the above two quotes. Genet’s fiction might after all be a coalition of artistically twisted facts. The nod might grow more vigorous after a quick skim through even the most basic of the French writer’s biography. It is then that the acknowledgement and understanding combine into generalization that an author’s life somehow reflects through his work. It is precisely when a reader is exposed to Genet’s history that Querelle begins to strip out of its secrets. Suddenly the protagonist can be sympathized, Nono’s feminine bursts seem consistent with the plot and Genet himself could be seen between lines. Historicism plays a significant role in a greater appreciation of an artist’s composition.
Having lived a life of a criminal from the age of 10 , Genet is to a frightening degree Querelle himself. His serving at the Mettray Reformatory and his life as a thief, a burglar, and a prostitute enhances the Querelle in him. Even his hero’s name apparently has a streak of his sexual orientation as Sartre points out that Genet himself as a writer is extremely specific about names. His friend shares an account where Genet mentions how he does not like roses but cherishes the name itself. The event in which a person begins to visualize the being of a word in the word itself distinguishes Genet’s complex character, yet again adding to his genius. This inclination can be seen in the naming of his protagonists, or rather the term ‘heroes’ would be more suiting in this particular scenario concerning how Genet delivers a ring of honorable valor to their actions. Despite the fact that we can dwell on most of them, since we are specifically studying Querelle, it seems more appropriate to use an instance from that work. The name
Querelle, beginning with a rather loud, obnoxious and to the most part a masculine accentuation, however, ends with a ‘flexional’ suffix ‘elle’ which without a question rings a feminine root to any Latin-exposed ear. Though there is a counter argument waiting in the coming passages, emasculation is the most comprehended if not accepted way of depicting gay relations.
Then again, it is not only the homoerotic part of his work that has gained successful notoriety but there comes a moment when critics shuffle around considering whether to call his novel a work of art or an embodiment of rationally twisted morals. Genet does not feel the need to justify his love for criminality: "I recognize in thieves, traitors and murderers, in the ruthless and the cunning, a deep beauty-a sunken beauty”. However, it seems that only a reader who has...

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