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Indeed -- Jean Genet --- Our Lady of the Flowers

Jean Genet, the French author, here with a fragment from his first book, "Our Lady of the Flowers", written in prison in 1943 on brown paper---which then got confiscated by a prison guard---it didn't matter, he got more brown paper and wrote it again. Then he got discovered by Jean-Paul Sartre...

(All the "females" here are queens, of course, and the scene is set in the red-light district of Paris, Montmartre:)

Though Darling's personal relations had dwindled as a result of his betrayals, Divine's had increased. In her date−book, famous for its oddness, where every other page was strewn with a jumble of pencilled spirals, which intrigued Darling until Divine once confessed that these were the pages of cocaine days, where she noted her accounts, fees and appointments, we already read the names of the three Mimosas (a Mimosa dynasty had been reigning over Montmartre since the triumphs of Mimosa the Great, the fluffy−wuffy of high thievery), of Queen Oriane, First Communion, Duck−bill, Sonia, Clairette, Fatty, the Baroness, Queen of Rumania (why was she called Queen of Rumania? We were once told that she had loved a king, that she was secretly in love with the King of Rumania, because his moustache and black hair gave him a gypsy look. That in being sodomized by one male who represented ten million, she felt the spunk of ten million men flowing into her, while one tool lifted her like a mast to the midst of the suns), of Sulphurous, Monique, Sweet Leo.

At night they haunted narrow bars which had not the fresh gaiety and candor of even the shadiest dance−halls. They loved each other there, but in fear, in the kind of horror we experience in the most charming dream. There is a sad gaiety in our love, and though we have more wit than Sunday lovers by the water's edge, our wit attracts misfortune. Here laughter springs only from trouble. It is a cry of pain. At one of these bars: as she does every evening, Divine has placed on her head a little coronet of false pearls. She resembles the crowned eagle of the heraldists, with the sinews of her neck visible beneath the feathers of her boa. Darling is facing her. Sitting about at other tables are the Mimosas, Antinea, First Communion. They are talking about dear absent friends. Judith enters and, in front of Divine, bows down to the ground: “Good evening, Madame!”

“What a silly dope!” exclaims Divine.
“Die Puppe hat gesprochen,” says a young German.

Divine bursts out laughing. The crown of pearls falls to the floor and breaks. Condolences, to which malicious joy gives rich tonalities: “The Divine is uncrowned!... She's the great Fallen One!... The poor Exile!” The little pearls roll about the sawdust−covered floor, and they are like the glass pearls that pedlars sell to children for a penny or two, and these are like the glass pearls that we thread every day on miles of brass wire, with which, in other cells, they weave funeral wreaths like those that bestrewed the cemetery of my childhood, rusted, broken, weathered by wind and rain, with just a tiny little pink blue−winged porcelain angel, attached to a thin blackened wire. In the cabaret, all the faggots are suddenly on their knees. Only the men stand upright. Then, Divine lets out a burst of strident laughter. Everyone pricks up his ears: it's her signal. She tears her bridge out of her open mouth, puts it on her skull and, with her heart in her throat, but victorious, she cries out in a changed voice and with her lips drawn back into her mouth, “Dammit all, Ladies, I'll be queen anyhow!”

Jean Genet (1910-1986)


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