Blurring Categories of Identity in Contee

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This work analyzes the specific way in which certain binary oppositions are collapsed in the work of Jean Genet, the twentieth-century French writer and political activist. The way ter traits such as homo- and heterosexuality, blackness and whiteness, masculine and feminine identity. This book approaches the operation of language in Genet’s texts through the lenses of deconstructionism, feminist theory, queer theory, and postcolonial theory. Though the work focuses on Genet, an addition to its appeal is made by the fact that it treats other major twentieth-century thinkers as well: Sartre, Derrida, Cixous, and Irigrary, among others.


“As Dr. Jones indicates, Genet’s works are fundamentally informed by contradictions, by binary pairs that sit unnaturally and uncomfortably on, in, and under Genet’s works, or indeed, Genet himself. On the one hand, these binary oppositions are comfortingly middle-class for the middle-class readership that might read his works. Genet’s readers are not at all the avatars of the characters he puts in his plays and novels. On the other hand, Genet’s resistance to these binaries is complicated by the fundamental force at work in his writing: the aesthetization and erotization of almost everything represented by his pen.” – Professor Lawrence R. Schehr, Director of the Program in Comparative and World Literature, University of Illinois

“What Dr. Jones has accomplished in his ‘queer’ reading of Genet is, in fact, an illumination of the anti-Hegelian (to oversimplify – ‘non-linear’) philosophical current which has dominated much of French thought after Sartre.” – Dr. Judith G. Miller, Chair and Professor, Department of French, New York University

“Dr. Jones has an excellent command not only of Genet’s texts but also of the criticism that has been brought to bear on those texts. Reading his readings of Cixous, Derrida, Irigaray, Foucault and Butler in relation to Genet’s novels and plays gave me insights not only into Genet’s oeuvre but also into the complex intersections of the most important French theorists of the late-twentieth century.” – Dr. Judith Holland Sarnecki, Professor of French, Department of French and Francophone Studies, Lawrence University

Table of Contents

Preface by Lawrence R. Schehr
1 Fiction/Truth: “Genet”
I. Sartre and “Genet”
II. Genêts en fleur: Derrida
2 Masculine/Feminine: Characterization and Gender Identity in Notre-Dame-des-Fleurs
I. Character Construction in Notre-Dame-des Fleurs
II. The Flaming St. Divine
3 Black/White: Feminine Forces and the Subversion of Dominant Discourse in Les Nègres
I. Feminine Writing and Subversive Mimicry
II. Playing with Mimesis: Les Nègres
III. Masculine and Feminine as Forces in Theater
4 Colonizer/Colonized: The Role of Colonial Language in Les Paravents
5 Homo/Hetero: Naming and Sexual Identity in Querelle de Brest
I. Freedom and the Evasion of Sexual Identity
II. Homosexuality as Textual Construct
Conclusion – Jean Genet: Queer

Other France/French: All Subjects Books