After his descent into abjection, Genet decides to embrace his condition and transform it into a supreme virtue. He rejects the hierarchy of values of a self-righteous society and turns it on its head: transmutes what is base into something noble and what is noble into something base. The process of inner subversion he initiated in Barcelona’s barrio chino will be long and haphazard, and finds expression over the next ten years in his first poetic, narrative works written in Paris’s La Santé prison. The young, poverty-stricken lad, brought up in an orphanage, without identity papers, throws himself into theft, prostitution and begging and strives to emulate a criminal’s inveterate hardness with the self-surrender of a man initiating himself in the arcane secrets of a mystic belief and its stony path to spiritual perfection.
There is a piece about Jean Genet by the Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo over at The White Review. [via The White Review]