R.i.p: a biography of Jean Genet by Edmund White

I start 2014 with a post in English and I will write other posts in English if I will feel that the issue can be more interesting for english speaking Readers. Just a little change to remind me that when time passes by, things must change (otherwise, nothing else changes, here…).

First chapter, just to introduce the childhood of this controversial author. Why controversial? Because homosexual, I think, but the rest of the book will probably reveal much more.
I immediately notice that the english title is different from the italian one. In Italy the book has been published by Il Saggiatore under (I translate) “The thief of style”.
I gave a look to Edmund White website: he is a prolific writer, but one of the elements that are underlined there is that he is gay too.
As if the gay literature would be different from the rest of literature. This is an interesting point: is gay literature different? And, if so, why? I am not very keen in this matter, but it is as if the only difference is the subject.
This would be a weak reason, there must be other reasons for this differentiation.
Another gay author that I remember is the italian Aldo Busi, but I read just his “Seminario sulla gioventù”: gorgeous writing… on gay topics.
Well, each author must write about matters that he well knows, and being sex one of the central obsessions of human beings, maybe it is normal this choice of topic. Anyway, I feel that there must be something more… Perhaps can anyone enlighten me?

Another interesting point of this chapter: the situation of abandomned children in France in the first half of 19th century.
Wards become protected by state and were put under the care of private families. Morvan is a french region well known for this (another reason for this region fame was the nursing mothers custom).
Jean Genet was given to a good family, the father was handcraftsmen – and this is important: it seems that in such families the situation of wards was much better than other ones (for instance peasants’) and Jean had the change to reading a lot.
Families become a pay to keep the children and children (all dressed with a uniform) had to work: this was part of the contract.

Flash on Genet’s personality: in his adulthood he often spoke about his childhood, but he often mixed reality and invention. I understand that part of this invention was due to the need to justify his love for oppressed ones by talking about his poor and deprived early life… well, White sustains that that childhood was not so sad!
But I must read further to understand how Genet built his public image when he was a well known homosexual personage.

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