Querelle de Brest: First Edition

There are certain books without which the homophile library is simply incomplete, and $5k says Jean Genet’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. Cocteau’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 one’s library seems a tad extreme, alternate printings run anywhere from $1 to $340.

This article first appeared at BUTTMagazine.com Thursday, October 28, 2010