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The Thief's Journal af Jean Genet

The Thief's Journal (original 1949; udgave 2004)

af Jean Genet

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,433512,104 (3.88)30
Erindringer skrevet af den professionelle tyv Jean Genet, født i Paris 1910.
Titel:The Thief's Journal
Forfattere:Jean Genet
Info:Olympiapress.com (2004), Paperback, 216 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

Tyvens dagbog af Jean Genet (1949)


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Viser 5 af 5
This is the Genet bk that had the greatest impact on me. I admired the clarity of his reporting & the certainty of his position. Somewhere in it, he states something to the effect that the people w/in it are not for the reader. In other words, that it takes a certain type of person to adapt to their criminality & that the likely reader of the bk is probably not that type. I had to agree. Having read this so long ago my memory is, indeed, 'foggy', but I vaguely recall a one-armed murderer as a main character. Genet's depiction of him convinced me that I wdn't want to meet him. Genet loved him. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Genet was a crook. Otherwise also a genius with words that translate poorly. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Sartre says that this is the best of Genet's novels, and I am inclined to agree because if both it and Our Lady of the Flowers are so mesmerizing, what chance is there that yet another of his novels would stand up to the same pedigree? In a similar manner to his first novel, here Genet transforms lowlife hoodlums into beautiful beings of memory through the alchemy of poetry, though all of the characters and the scenes here seem so much closer to the narrator's heart.

It is an act of love. To extract from these scenes some element that made them sing and personified their hidden beauty. Beauty which to any passerby would be lost, and maybe it would even be lost to Jean himself in the moment. It is when we relive the past in memory that we find even the most perplexing and worrisome scenes covered in a glaze of loveliness. That phenomena is what is conveyed here, to such a precise degree that it startles the reader.

More precisely, through memory and with the tools of poetry Genet allows evil to become good. He slices the faces from lovely Grecian boys to paste them over the the sneering skulls of hell-goats. It seems, more accurately, that he does not turn that which is evil into the good, but that he extracts that which is beautiful from that which is evil, and thus finds the goodness.

"I learned that even flowers are black at night ..." ( )
1 stem poetontheone | Sep 11, 2011 |
The pages of this journal document Jean Genet's young adulthood of crime, indigence and homosexuality. They are not in all cases true, as the author has stated that he has altered facts and stories in order to best depict situations and people that are not only places, events and characters in his journal but also vehicles through which he expresses his moral stance. Positioning the marginal, criminal world he inhabits in opposition to the conventional world governed by traditional laws and values, he expresses the sublime beauty of a "holy trinity" of values: theft, betrayal and homosexuality. In his novel aesthetic, that which is condemned, disdained and marginalized by "us" is elevated to sainthood by him. The beauty of the criminal and the beauty of the criminal act are expressed with the most exquisite of words by an author whose writing has displaced him from a world that he once inhabited, and which he views in a way that few others would.

His young life on the margins of society carries him from country to country, from Spain to Czechoslovakia, through Italy and Switzerland, to Belgium and his native France. In Spain he leaves the pitiful Salvador for the beautiful one-armed Stilitano, who eventually abandons him. Alone, he crosses borders and is thrown in jails where he meets men, both prisoners and jailers, worthy of his love and admiration. He befriends a policeman, intrigued by the connection between the criminal and the man of the law, seeing them as two sides of the same coin: both are positioned on the outside of a world of men and women who live within the law, and both are stigmatized and often looked down upon due to their status on the outside. Eventually, young Jean arrives to Antwerp, where he meets back up with Stilitano, who is maintaining a woman and selling opium. He continues to admire the one-armed man, but also meets another perfect, brutish figure: Armand. As he commits a series of robberies, posing as a male prostitute then mugging the men who wish to take him up on his offer, he also ponders betraying one of his friend/lovers.

His evocations of his youth are mixed with reflections by Jean Genet at 35 on that past existence and the edifice of values he has created around crime, treason and homosexuality. At 35, his lover is the beautiful and angelic Lucien, whose more-traditional purity stands in opposition to his past lovers, as well as his past self. Genet considers the possibility of corrupting Lucien and what it would mean to initiate him into the life he is documenting in his journal. He also fantasizes about the most perfect of all prisons: Guyana, where the criminal's exile is more complete due to the distance placed between him and the world he inhabited.

Jean Genet, the man as he presents himself in the pages of this journal, is a fascinating character. To have lived the life he documents here, and not only survived but found a very particular and compelling significance in the very places from which so many people turn their backs in disgust, is pretty incredible. I've read books that depict lives and worlds similar to the ones shown here, books that could be considered beautiful in their own right, but never had I read something like this, a book that formalizes a "cult of the criminal." Genet is a man capable of imagining the unimaginable, and giving form to his ideas as a part of a surprisingly compelling system of morals. I liked the way that he created a sort of dialogue between worlds, addressing the reader from time to time and reminding him or her that the world Genet inhabits and "le vôtre," the world from which he was barred, are exclusive. There is one scene where the two worlds come into contact: tourists stream off of a boat and marvel at the Spanish indigents, commenting, "what a life that must be, without a care in the world," or something like that, as they give them money and the bums slip off from time to time to convert that money into booze. Genet, staring at the vacationers, sees them apply the principles of their world (looking at the bums with their schoolboy Victor Hugo conception of indigence) to his world, and conveys to the reader of his journal the ridiculousness of their interpretation of the bums' lives.

As I read, I enjoyed imagining what it would be like to live in a different world, or to live in the same world but be subject to a different set of rules. I like books that penetrate into the margins of our society, or into the dark side of our world. When I was in college, I started studying Spanish and eventually, shortly after I arrived to spend a year in Buenos Aires, someone recommended that I read Los siete locos and Los lanzallamas, by Roberto Arlt. I was captivated by the characters and their crackpot schemes to achieve whatever it was they were after. The Astrologist wants to conquer the world and assembles a group of men who would help him in the construction of a secret society built with the revenue generated by a network of provincial whorehouses; Erdosain wants to invent metallic roses and chemical weapons that will sweep through cities like deadly curtains. The characters who populate Genet's journal are not unlike those of Arlt's books: they too are schemers, and while their plans aren't as grandiose as The Astrologist's, there is a similar desperation in their crimes and betrayals. Jean Genet himself is almost like a character straight out of Arlt. As he wanders Europe, in and out of jail, he's taking notes and fitting the world he inhabits into a system with a set of moral values parallel and opposite to those of that other world of law, trust and normal society. The story of the young indigent who will become the famous author, whose work will be admired by Jean-Paul Sartre, seems almost as unbelievable as the dreams of the characters in Arlt's books; the fact that it's (more or less) true made this book especially fascinating.

This book also made me think about a contemporary art form where an alternate set of values has been assigned to previously-marginalized elements of society: rap music, with its curious and complex set of moral values that start to peek through as years pass and artists come and go: the exhaltation of pimps, hustlers, gangsters, drug dealers, sex and violence over the course of the past thirty years have led to the elevation of many, many heroes who aren't unlike some of the men Genet depicts in his thief's journal. I imagine that many people who read Jean Genet find him to be obscene; the same can certainly be said for a lot of people who listen to rap music. However, as a person who has listened to and loved rap music for most of his life, the author's affirmation of beauty in those people and acts marginalized and condemned by our society and its laws was perfectly comprehensible. True, there are great differences between "hip-hop morals" and "Jean Genet morals:" their views on betrayal, for one, are polar opposites. Nonetheless, I wonder what Genet would have thought had he lived to see the rise of a culture that, in some ways, repeats his exhaltation of a subaltern, criminal world.

I've been experimenting with reading books in French during my work breaks, and in some cases, it's nice. I'm at the computer, so I can look up words and write down new vocabulary to study at home. However, in some cases the episodic pace of breaktime reading impedes my enjoyment or understanding of the book and the author's message. To some extent, I was disappointed with this read. I'd get to fifteen minutes, I'd penetrate deep enough into the story and into the mind of Genet to really start enjoying myself, then it'd be time to go back on the clock. I guess what disappointed me was that I'd allocated an inadequate portion of my time to a book that deserved more. I've been trying to fit different sorts of books into different bits of my increasingly-busy schedule, and this book, with its mix of narrative and philosophical considerations of beauty and saintliness, would have been better read in a more relaxed, focused setting.

So I'll have to return to Journal du voleur when I have a more appropriate chunk of time to contribute to it. But I still found a lot to think about, even from a rather poor reading of the book. I also learned some rather obscene new words, and I watched a French gangster movie the other day and was pleased to understand things I might not have before. ( )
3 stem msjohns615 | Apr 27, 2011 |
I don't like thieves very much, especially the ones that have stolen from me. But getting behind the eyes of one was a real treat. One of those authors whose books emanate life. Books of the best kind. ( )
1 stem raggedprince | Apr 4, 2007 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (16 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Jean Genetprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Caproni, GiorgioOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Erba, LucianoIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Frechtman, BernardOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Lijsen, C.N.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Sartre, Jean-PaulIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Vigtige steder
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Beslægtede film
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The convict's outfit is pink-and white striped.
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Erindringer skrevet af den professionelle tyv Jean Genet, født i Paris 1910.

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