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The Last Genet: A Writer in Revolt
During the last eighteen years of his life (1968-86), Jean Genet was preoccupied with the struggles of the disenfranchised and displaced: among them, the Black Panthers, the Baader-Meinhof, and the Palestinians. Hadrien Laroche's book is a careful philosophical and historical reading (though fascinating as a political thriller) of the acts and thoughts of various international political movements in the seventies and the eighties, and of Genet's own experiences and writings. It describes the adventures of a writer engaged with the "real world," as opposed to what Genet called "the grammatical world."
This translation of Le dernier Genet (Seuil) considers Genet's insights, failures, and critique of humanism, and examines the way in which his energetic prose forged a new political, aesthetic, and philosophical relation between literature and the world.
The Last Genet focuses on a critical moment in western culture, but also, on a broader scale, questions of borders, language, and identity, offering an alternative to Sartre’s concept of engagement.
The original edition was nominated for France's prestigious Prix Femina as best essay, and the book has been praised by Elisabeth Roudinesco, Bernard-Henri Levy, Albert Dichy, and others.
2010 is the centenary of Jean Genet's birth.
What People Are Saying
A beautiful book, painting the dark side of Jean Genet: those moments that are the most fascinating about a writer.
- Bernard-Henri Levy, Le Point
This is a magnificent book that gives us the metamorphoses of the last Genet, the poet of the jouissance of evil.
- Elisabeth Roudinesco
A masterpiece that opens the door to Genet's universe.
- Regine Desforges, L'Humanite
From Jean Genet, Hadrien Laroche has gained the most important lesson: a vibrant style, a provocative tone and a freedom of the mind.
- Albert Dichy, Le Monde
The trope of identity pervades this text as the author reveals Genet’s struggles to come to terms with issues regarding race, homeland, origins, nation, borders and power. For example, Laroche examines the nuanced and tenuous difference between violence and brutality, ultimately suggesting that the violence by Black Americans during the civil-rights era was a valid response to the brutality and oppression perpetrated by whites. The key to understanding Genet, writes the author, is through language, which underlies identity, homeland and “the heart of the writer.” Genet’s discoveries and conclusions were consistently insightful and provocative, though not always desirable, moral or ethical. His last journey, as revealed by Laroche, is imbued with beauty, metamorphosis and emancipation on one hand, and monstrosity, nihilism and hopelessness on the other. An indispensible study for readers interested in Genet, the Black Panthers, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict or, more generally, the philosophy of humanism.
- Kirkus Reviews
Hadrien Laroche analyzes and connects Genet’s writing to his involvement with disenfranchised political groups ... Highly recommended for readers interested in Genet and his works.
- Library Journal
Hadrien Laroche’s eloquent, evocative meditation on mid-20th-century French writer Jean Genet focuses on the last and surprising phase of the life of an author remembered as a scandal-causing gay novelist, experimental playwright and defender of the oppressed ... Ably translated by David Homel, Laroche’s book serves as a timely homage that marks the centenary of Genet’s birth on December 19, 1910 ... Laroche writes in the tradition of the French essay, at once lyrical and densely analytic. It’s a line of thought that runs from Montaigne through Camus and all the way up to Derrida. Laroche meditates on the images of the era (including that emblematic triumvirate of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll), the oscillations of politics and violence, and on the last years of the paradoxical Genet, rebel and humanist.
- Stan Persky, The Globe and Mail
Laroche's exhaustive research provides a historical framework for examining Jean Genet's later non-fiction work, particularly Prisoner of Love, and the ways in which his political ideals and experiences shaped his worldview.
- Publishers Weekly
Published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2010