There are certain books without which the homophile library is simply incomplete, and $5k says Jean Genetâ€™s Querelle de Brest is one of them. Mr. Genet, juvenile delinquent turned occasional prostitute and cultural heavyweight, completed the controversial tale of a homicidal bisexual sailor in 1947, no doubt drawing on his own experience in the French Foreign Legion. Just one year after completing the manuscript, Mr. Genet faced a life sentence for repeat offenses, dating back to his teens. He would, however, avoid incarceration with some help from a group of influential Frenchmen, including Jean Paul Sartre, Andre Gide, and Jean Cocteau. Mr. Cocteauâ€™s secretary, Paul Morihien, subsequently released the now highly sought after first edition of Querelle in 1954. It numbered a mere 460 copies, and featured 29 explicit and un-attributed illustrations penned by Mr. Cocteau.
Antiquarian book dealers have valued a first-edition copy of Querelle de Brest at as much as five thousand dollars, an unreasonable price for the slight of pocket. However, if the selling of a vital organ for the sake of oneâ€™s library seems a tad extreme, alternate printings run anywhere from $1 to $340.