Jean Genet began to write his third novel in late 1943, but the piece was to be changed utterly by the death of Jean Decarnin in August 1944, after which Genet completed the novel that autumn and entitled it Pompes funebres (Funeral Rites).
Genet's sensual and brutal portrait of the Second World War (translated by Bernard Frechtman) unfolds between the poles of his grief for his lover Jean, killed in the Resistance during the liberation of Paris, and his perverse attraction to the collaborator Riton. Powerfully written, and with moments of great poetic subtlety, Funeral Rites is a dark meditation on the mirror images of love and hate, sex and death.
'Funeral Rites is quite possibly an evil book. It is clearly a brilliant book . . . a seminal document in the development of one of the most important literary imaginations of our time.' Washington Post-Times Herald