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This interview is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

Jean Genet in Conversation Pierre Vicary

Jean Genet was interviewed by Pierre Vicary for the Australian Broadcasting Commission early last year. This is a transcript of that interview. © JEAN GENET 1982


Pierre Vicary-Jean Genet, you are a very well-known writer: many have read you, many more know your name, and yet you remain a bit of an enigma, a bit of a mystery.


Jean Genet-I'd like to turn the question back to you. What do you think? Because after all, I'm not an enigma or mystery to myself, or if I am, I'm trying to discover myself. It's possible that I appear enigmatic to others, but what I'd be really interested in, is your interpretation of me.


I know your background, a writer who spent most of his early years in jail, who didn't have a family life, who became a writer; a man who one would expect, because of his background, to be fairly bitter.


No, I'm not bitter, but there is something about me which perhaps disconcerts people who know me only by name-and that's the fact that I lead a very solitary life. I have no contact with literary or intellectual circles; I live alone, and as a result, my life casts a sort of shadow around me, which in reality isn't a shadow at all, but appears as such and as a mystery to those who don't know me. In reality my life is ...


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