Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The seventy-four pages went by amazingly fast. I would read this book in a non-academic setting. However, since this a setting, I found a couple of themes in it.


The first section (pages 1-22) dealt with the sea and sailor imagery in a unique way. It is odd to look back and glimpse the creation of a gay archetype. In Querelle Genet shed some light as to why gay men flocked to the seas.

" …it allows him to assume dark continents where the sun sets and rises , where the moon sanctions murder under roofs of bamboo… it gives him the opportunity to act within the illusion of a mirage,,," p4


Genet is discussing when the criminal wears a sailor suit, allowing him to pass as a sailor.

The idea of passing as someone else reoccurs. That even if you are gay you can pass as straight by subjugating women. The coupling of these two ideas is found is the interaction between Roger and Gilbert

"She gives you the hots eh?

-a couple lines later

Gil turned to face the boy and forced him to retreat into the recess in the stone wall.


This idea is repeated on pages 59 and 60. This is where the game is introduced, later it is explained as a sexual dice game.

That if you win you can have sex with the Madam, if you lose you have to have sex with Nono first.


Another theme or question that came to mind.. Is the link between Querelles sexuality and deviant behavior. He is smuggler, a thief , a murder. Does an audience lump in his homosexual behavior in with these traits?

We, as modern readers in a Gay French Lit class can easily separate his sexuality from his behavior, we do not see the causation effect, but did readers in 1948? Did they link homosexuality with drugs, theft and murder?

The logic is

If gay sailors are criminals, and being a sailor is not criminal in nature, there for being gay is.




fehrer said...

being gay doesn't seem to make people criminal in the text as far as I have read, it's just that the criminals happen to like a little man on man now and again.
No, really, I didn't feel that that was a main point. I think that the criminal activities and the gay activities just happen to show up in the same book, more or less...

Erin said...

It took me a minute to see what you meant by linking homosexuality with drugs, theft, and murder. I didn't say that. It seemed to me that in this instance homosexuality is explained better by linking it with those things. Drugs, theft, and murder seem to be more readily defined and follow the same set of rules and guidelines. Homosexuality seems to be more ambiguous.

Nora Kitchen said...

Here's where I have to resist the urge to just be boring and write it off by saying, “the author was gay, so they wanted to write about gay people.” ^_^ I don't really have an opinion on the matter yet, and I might never since I feel like I haven't read enough gay lit to judge, but I also am not getting in any (to oversimplify ^^) gay = evil vibes. For one thing, even the characters who aren't as bad are gay, too. The whole thing kind of feels like...a celebration of doing all the “wicked” things society doesn't want you to. I'm not sure if it makes a judgment (at least yet) on whether these things wicked to society are TRULY wicked or not.

Though just to switch teams for fun. Once I read a novel where there was a gay character who seemed like he was supposed to be pretty shameless, perverse, and immoral. By a while into the novel, it was pretty clear that while he was those things, a large part of him was also a really nice guy, a real gentleman. By the end you kind of got the feeling that left to his own accord he would have grown up a complete gentleman (probably still with a dirty mind. But nobody's perfect ^_^), but because of the time he grew up in, all he ever heard was that gay people were horrible perverts that slept with little boys and prostitutes. That being the only gay identity available to him, he took it on. So...Maybe you could see it somewhat like that?