Monday, February 11, 2008

Genet interview with Madeleine Gobeil

Gobeil: Was it in prison that your work evolved? Do you still steal today?
Genet : And you Miss?
Gobeil: .............
Genet : You don't steal, you have never stolen?
Gobeil : .............
Gobeil: Are you still in contact with your old cellmates?
Genet: Not at all. Look at the situation. I earn royalties from all over the world, you come to interview me, and they are still in prison. For them, I am a man who has betrayed them, that's all.
Gobeil: Is this a betrayal?
Genet: I certainly betrayed something. But I had to do it for something that I felt was more precious. I had to betray stealing because theft is a singular action, which I turned on, for the benefit of a universal operation, which is poetry. I had to do it.
Gobeil: You betrayed criminals and yet you are spurned by honest people. Do you like living in general disgrace?
Genet: It doesn't displease me, but it's a question of temperament. It is out of conceit and that is not the best aspect of my personality. I like being in disgrace......But this pride is foolish. I ought to stop at this. It is a naive and romantic attitude.
Gobeil : You believe in God?
Genet : I think I believe in him. I don't have faith in the mythologies of catechism. But why should I account for my life by affirming the things that seem to me most precious. Nothing is forcing me. Nothing apparently obliges me. Why then do I feel so strongly that I must do it?
Gobeil: And eternal life, do you believe in it?
Genet: This is a question for theologians. Are you a member of Vatican ? This question makes no sense.
Gobeil: So, what sense do you find in the life of a writer who wanders not from prison to prison, but hotel room to hotel room? You are rich and yet you own nothing. I counted : you have seven books, an alarm clock, a leather jacket, three shirts, a suit and a suitcase. Is that all?
Genet: Yes, why should I have more?
Gobeil : Why this satisfaction in poverty?
Genet : It is the virtue of angels. Listen, I don't give a damn. When I go to London, sometimes my agent books a room at the Ritz. What do you want me to do with things and with luxury? I write, that's all.

From Genet's interview with M. Gobeil, 1964

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