Jean Genet and the Poetics of Palestinian Politics: Statecraft as Stagecraft in 'Quatre heures a Chatila'

Finburgh, Clare. 2002. Jean Genet and the Poetics of Palestinian Politics: Statecraft as Stagecraft in 'Quatre heures a Chatila'. French Studies, 56(4), pp. 495-509. ISSN 0016-1128 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This study of Jean Genet's ‘Quatre heures à Chatila’ explores the relationship between the writer's literary ouvre and his political action, both of which constitute part of his same endeavour to define our socialized reality. It draws upon other Genetian works, notably Un captif amoureux for which 'Quatre heures' might be seen as a prologue, to describe how Genet's reality, or réel, originates essentially in his féerie-the dissemination of mask, stagecraft, fable. Reality for Genet comprises a plurality of ever-shifting truths played out within the mise-en-scène of social existence. The essay suggests that in 'Quatre heures' Genet champions the Palestinian Fedayee rebels because their ceaseless reinvention of politics, religion and society prevents any original cause from existing beyond the permanently unstable site of discursive relativity, or the féerie. The essay illustrates how, moreover, Genet's aesthetic is indissociable from Palestinian ethics. 'Quatre heures' bears witness to the Palestinian rejection of monolithic ideology both in its macrostructural thematics, which discuss the Palestinian revolt, and in its microstructural stylistics: perspectives are proliferated through a multiplicity of discontinuous styles, structures and registers; time-space unities are fragmented; genre is hybridized so that journalistic fact is fuelled with poetic imagery and reference to visual art. The essay concludes by suggesting that Genet's refusal of teleological development and definitive affirmation in his account of the Palestinian insurrection and of the Shatila and Sabra massacres, affords him and his Palestinians the possibility for perpetual poetic and political hermeneutic renewal. In addition, it enables the reader to metamorphosize the absence of essence into a creative affirmation, through constant interrogation of the text.

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Jean Genet, Quatre heures à Chatila, Palestine

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


October 2002Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Dec 2018 12:17

Last Modified:

21 Dec 2018 12:17

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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