Edmund White,
Genet’s biographer, confesses to be confused about his take on relationships
and betrayal and the unabashed manner in which he owns up and even defends his
own treacherous behavior. White writes in his books: “I could never comprehend
Genet’s purported admiration for treachery. . . I recognize that a
prisoner might be forced to betray his friends, but how can one be proud
of such a failing?” Genet somewhere confesses that he once handed over to
the police his “most tormented (martyrisé) friend”. He even demanded
payment for his treachery, which leaves no room for doubt in the
self-serving nature of his intention for doing this. Neither the long record of
his crimes and incarceration, nor his extravagant and lustful homosexuality has
been as shocking and appalling to his readers and critics as the facility with
which he treats treachery (including his own).

There is no
honor among thieves in the world of Genet’s characters, none of that sentimental
fraternity and code of loyalty that is frequently depicted in representations
of crime world in the media. In the conceptual space of our dominant ideologies
even the criminal underworld is not allowed to be exempt from certain inviolable
constraints, some sacred boundary that even the worst kind of criminal would
not dare cross. What is important about the account given above of Genet’s
treacherous behavior is his rejection of any appeal to the conventions of
normal society. He refuses to invalidate such ideological assumptions as the
belief that the criminal world adheres more rigorously to ethical ideals than
the “lawful” society in which those ideals originated; assumptions that simply
serve to entertain the public and deny the slightest possibility of the
existence of symbolic configurations and modes of behavior other than those allowed
by the establishment. Because of the resistance he shows to normative ideology,
the way in which treachery is articulated in Genet’s works (and his own life) is
truly dissident.  Genet is much more ambitious.
In his work he imagines a form of revolt that has no relation whatsoever to the
laws, categories, and values of society. Those ideals are contested and
destroyed by his characters in their subversive interactions.

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