Jean Genet was born in Paris in 1910 and, after being given up by his mother to the

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, was raised by foster parents in the agricultural region of the Morvan in central France. The ensuing sense of alienation, Jean-Paul Sartre was later to argue, was central to Genet's identity and to his writing, culminating in an accusation of theft which would colour Genet's view of society and, above all, of power relations for the rest of his life. Such, at least, is Sartre's claim; the biographical nature of the incident cannot be easily verified, and lies at the heart of an interpretative problem which has dogged a remarkable corpus of plays and novels for more than fifty years.

Genet's adolescence, after a few short-lived apprenticeships, was marked by spells in a number of penal

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Citation: Jones, David Houston. "Jean Genet". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 August 2006 [, accessed 30 May 2024.]

1713 Jean Genet 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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