Quotations From JEAN GENET


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  • The fame of heroes owes little to the extent of their conquests and all to the success of the tributes paid to them.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. Prisoner of Love, pt. 1 (1986, trans. 1989).

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  • A great wind swept over the ghetto, carrying away shame, invisibility and four centuries of humiliation. But when the wind dropped people saw it had been only a little breeze, friendly, almost gentle.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. Prisoner of Love, pt. 1 (1986, trans. 1989). Said of the rise and fall of the Black Panthers.

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  • Anyone who knows a strange fact shares in its singularity.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. Prisoner of Love, pt. 1 (1986, trans. 1989).
  • What we need is hatred. From it our ideas are born.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. The Blacks, Epigraph (1959, trans. 1960).
  • Anyone who hasn't experienced the ecstasy of betrayal knows nothing about ecstasy at all.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. Prisoner of Love, pt. 1 (1986, trans. 1989).
  • "Power may be at the end of a gun," but sometimes it's also at the end of the shadow or the image of a gun.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. Prisoner of Love, pt. 1 (1986, trans. 1989). Genet was taking issue with the notion that armed struggle is the only way to achieve revolutionary change. See also Mao Zedong's comment under "power."

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  • Would Hamlet have felt the delicious fascination of suicide if he hadn't had an audience, and lines to speak?
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. Prisoner of Love, pt. 1 (1986, trans. 1989).

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  • To achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegance.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. The Thief's Journal (1949).
  • Repudiating the virtues of your world, criminals hopelessly agree to organize a forbidden universe. They agree to live in it. The air there is nauseating: they can breathe it.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. The Thief's Journal (1949, trans. 1965).

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  • There is a close relationship between flowers and convicts. The fragility and delicacy of the former are of the same nature as the brutal insensitivity of the latter.
    Jean Genet (1910-1986), French playwright, novelist. The Thief's Journal (1949, trans. 1965).

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