The Maids and Deathwatch: Two Plays

The Maids and Deathwatch: Two Plays

The Maids and Deathwatch: Two Plays

The Maids and Deathwatch: Two Plays

Synopsis

The two plays collected in this volume represent Genets first attempts to analyze the mores of a bourgeois society he had previously been content simply to vilify. In The Maids, two domestic workers, deeply resentful of their inferior social position, try to revenge themselves against society by destroying their employer. When their attempt to betray their mistresss lover to the police fails and they are in danger of being found out, they dream of murdering Madame, little aware of the true power behind their darkest fantasy. In Deathwatch, two convicts try to impress a third, who is on the verge of achieving legendary status in criminal circles. But neither realizes the lengths to which they will go to gain respect or that, in the end, nothing they can do--including murder--will get them what they are searching for.

Excerpt

"Epimenides says that Cretans are liars. But he is a Cretan. Therefore he lies. Therefore Cretans are not liars. Therefore, he speaks the truth. Therefore, Cretans are liars. Therefore, he lies, etc." This is the argument of Epimenides. It is the model of circular sophistry as bequeathed by ancient scepticism. Truth leads to the lie and vice-versa.

The mind that enters one of these vicious circles goes round and round, unable to stop. With practice, Jean Genet has managed to transmit to his thought an increasingly rapid circular movement. He has a vision of an infinitely rapid rotation which merges the poles of appearance and reality, just as, when a multi-colored disk is spun quickly enough, the colors of the rainbow interpenetrate and produce white. Genet constructs such whirligigs by the hundred. They be. come his favorite mode of thinking. He indulges knowingly in false reasoning.

The most extraordinary example of the whirligigs of being and appearance, of the imaginary and the real, is to be found . . .

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