Queer Writing: Homoeroticism in Jean Genet's Fiction
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Queer Writing provides the first full-length study of homoeroticism in Jean Genet's fiction. It shows how the theory of writing elaborated in his work provides a new way to understand homosexual literature, not as the inscription of a stable sexual subjectivity but as the mobilization of a perverse dynamic within the text.
into the language of the enemy, that to say, into the beautiful language which was that of authority and power?’ (ED 229). Genet’s insightful response to this criticism is illuminating – not because it reveals his ‘intentions’ as an author, but because it elucidates the complex interrelationship between marginal subjectivity and the dominant language that his writing actively reworks: Vous me reprochez d’écrire en bon français? Premièrement, ce que j’avais à dire à l’ennemi, il fallait le dire
heterosexual, as does Querelle. Despite Querelle’s desire to be penetrated by Norbert, however, the relationship between the two men is not that between a bottom and a top, a real man and a queer, as both men identify as macho toughs. For Norbert, sex with men is simply a game, something that is decided by a random roll of dice rather than an act of personal choice, ‘la manifestation violente et un peu fanfaronne d’une lubricité’ (QB 448) [‘the violent, almost swaggering expression of lechery’
further within it. Thus homophobia in Genet’s novels ends by problematising the very distinction between heterosexuality and homosexuality it is assumed to reinforce, undermining the stability of identities such as heterosexual and homosexual.13 The semantic dependence of homosexuality on a heterocentrism that would eliminate it has profound consequences for Un Chant d’amour: Homoeroticism and the Closet of Language 93 subjects who must negotiate the formulation of identity and attempts to
not to directly oppose or resist it, but to elude its binary logic and to metamorphose its language. With ‘le secours de mots magiques’ (MR 247) [‘the help of magic words’ (MR[E] 198)] he will formulate a new kind of writing: ‘Une telle opération ne se pouvant réussir par la dialectique, j’eus recours à la magie’ (JV 59) [‘since an operation of this kind cannot succeed by means of dialectics, I had recourse to magic’ (TJ 71)]. Writing for Genet, as it is for Cixous, is thus a form of magic that
which his ventriloquism of dominant discourses (which he both parrots and parodies), further obscures just who is narrating Genet’s texts and from which position they are speaking. Between Cocteau’s ‘je suis un mensonge’ and Genet’s ‘il faut mentir’, the speaking subject, the ‘I’, has disappeared, dispersing the intending authorial subject as a (duplicitous) dynamic within the text. This aspect of camp – the extent to which its celebration of artifice and lying decentres the position or identity