Monday, April 14, 2008

Rubber in Literature: Jean Genet

Look what I found! A very tiny reference to rubber rainwear in Jean Genet's autobiographical novel The Thief's Journal:

When I was being followed on the Rues des Couronnes, the terror that the plainclothesmen caused me was communicated by the ghastly swish of their rubberized raincoats. Every time I hear that sound again, my heart contracts.

[Page 102 of the 1964 Grove Press edition. Same pagination as this newer/shinier paperback edition.]

Jean Genet (1910-1986) was a French writer mainly known for his highly erotic novels and plays on homosexuality, crime, and really cool stuff. If you enjoy reading Sade and Bataille (for the philosophical content, ahem) you will probably love Genet too. Genet was a fantastic prose artist--just get a load of this fabulous disembodied quote, also from The Thief's Journal: "To achieve harmony in bad taste is the height of elegance." Nice, huh? I should get that tattooed on my forehead.

The short paragraph quoted above makes me think about the sound of latex rubber and the memories and feelings that resurface. What are your aural rubber memories? The creaking of a heavy corset sliding over a catsuit or the rustling of a long gown, for example, brings up different associations. Rubber is an acoustic fabric, but that trait is often overshadowed by the primary tactile-visual qualities.

No comments: