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The Thief's Journal

M Jean Genet


Jean Genet, French playwright, novelist and poet, was abandoned by his mother when he was a baby. He grew up in foster care with a working class family and began stealing at the age of ten. At 15 he was sent to the notorious reform school, Metrray. Genet was in and out of prison nine times. It was in prison that he began writing and he turned the experiences in his life amongst pimps, whores, thugs and other fellow social outcasts into a poetic literature, with an honesty and explicitness unprecedented at the time. Widely considered an outstanding and unique figure in French literature, Genet wrote five novels between 1942 and 1947. The Thief's Journal is perhaps Jean Genet's most authentically autobiographical novel; an account of his impoverished travels across 1930s Europe. The narrator is guilty of vagrancy, petty theft and prostitution, but his writing transforms such degradations into an inverted moral code, where criminality and delinquency become heroic.