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War after DeathOn Violence and Its Limits$
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Steven Miller

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823256778

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823256778.001.0001

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Open Letter to the Enemy

Open Letter to the Enemy

Jean Genet, War, and the Exact Measure of Man

(p.51) Chapter Two Open Letter to the Enemy
War after Death

Steven Miller

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on a text that was published—according to the instructions of Jean Genet—as the first page of his posthumous collection of political writings and interviews, The Declared Enemy. According to the editors, the text differs from other texts in the collection which consist of Genet’s occasional interventions in the public sphere. This text, written for Gysin, is one of his literary works. The different status of the ad is marked by the liminal place that it occupies in the book itself. It presents itself as a traditional paratext, situated on the threshold between book and its public. The chapter argues that the reading of these ambiguities that interfere with the attempt to understand how Genet’s personal open letter to the enemy fits in the collection of his political writings is essential for a precise measurement of what remains politically open in his later work. Both the placement of the text and the discreet “genre” of the personal advertisement itself suggest that Genet here seeks to displace the “openness” of its publication, to manifest that the very publication of this text does not necessarily pertain to the “public sphere.” Consideration of these material ambiguities is essential to understanding the address of this letter to “the declared enemy”.

Keywords:   text, Gysin, The Declared Enemy, letter

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