exhibition Saint-Germain-La-Blanche-Herbe

Exhibition - Jean Genet’s suitcases/

Exhibition - Jean Genet’s suitcases

2020 2021

What’s inside a writer’s suitcases? Following on from the legendary trunks of Fernando Pessoa, Raymond Roussel and Antonin Artaud, here are the suitcases of Jean Genet – the vagabond writer with no fixed abode, no desk, no library.

Breaking into poetry in 1942 with the publication of ‘Condamné à mort’, Jean Genet wrote his first books in prison but retired from the literary scene just as his theatre works were bringing him fame around the world. He claimed that he had renounced writing altogether. However, for almost twenty years, from one hotel room to another, from the Shatila camp to the Goutte d’Or, from the black ghettos of the USA to the small town of Larache in Morocco, he carried in two small suitcases a jumble of handwritten notes and manuscripts which documented his entire life, from his lost childhood to his final political adventures.

In April 1986, a few days before his death, Jean Genet entrusted the suitcases to his friend and lawyer, Roland Dumas, who he had met during the war in Algeria. A month later his final masterpiece, ‘Un captif amoureux’ (A captive in love), was published. For 34 years the suitcases languished in a secret cupboard before Dumas decided to donate them to the IMEC.

Drafts, unpublished manuscripts, clippings, random notes – the writer’s last workshop can now be revealed to the public.

An exhibition curated by Albert Dichy.