Thursday, November 6, 2014
A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.
Last week a parcel arrived: a 1965 Bernard Frechtman translation of Jean Genet's Journal du voleur (1949). A book I did not order, and as I later found out, a gift from a friend.
Those familiar with the book will know that it begins with a description of the convict's pink-and-white striped outfit. Then the proposition that sets the tone for what follows: "there is a close relationship between flowers and convicts."
As the last of the penal colonies close, Genet blooms, his tendrils taking us through Spain, Italy, Austria, Czechoslovokia, Poland, Nazi Germany and Belgium in the 1930s, mostly at night.
Something else: on Page 165 he writes:
"In a friend's room, looking at his bed and all the bourgeois furnishings:
'I could never make love here.' That kind of place freezes me. To have chosen it I would have had to make use of qualities and have preoccupations so remote from love that my life would have grown disenchanted with it."