|dc.description.abstract||This thesis interprets the language of the self in both editions of Jean Genet's five works
of early prose fiction. Its appendices present the first list of the 65000 words of excisions
and variants between the subscribers' (1943-48) and public editions (1949-53).
Many critics have interpreted Genet's works in terms of his life, applying to them
a reductive notion of the self. Subjectivity in this thesis is a broader concept which
addresses the (self-) representation of narrators and characters. I apply close textual
analysis to two types of passage (relating to gestures and language consciousness
respectively) which represent subjectivity in non-specular language (where one thing does
not clearly reflect or refer to another).
I use the ubiquitous 'geste' as the guide-word for my analysis of gesture since its
usage is similar in each of the texts considered. Gestures are of course mediated by
language in Genet's texts but, surprisingly, are only partially represented in visual terms.
Consequently, gestures do not serve to consolidate subjectivity and resist attribution to
individual characters. It is rather in the interpretation of gestures that narrators and
characters who both perform and interpret gestures can negotiate the assigning of
meaning and the concomitant firming tip of subjectivity.
Language consciousness is a textual speculation on the production and reception
of a passage or text and each of Genet's texts demonstrates different interactions between
such speculations and the representation of subjectivity. My emphasis on language
consciousness helps to elucidate tile structure of the prose text (narrative frames, for
example) and its relation to other genres (literary criticism and poetry, for example).
I conclude that in Genet's texts innovative language represents (and sometimes
fails to represent) plural subjectivity in complex ways. I argue that the interdependence
of these three aspects (language, representation and subjectivity) presents a new paradigm
for understanding Genet's texts. Furthermore, I outline in my conclusions how it is
possible to apply a comparative analysis of these aspects to other works such as Martin
Heidegger's Zur Seiqfrage (1955).||en_US