Philosophy Today 65 (4):773-788 (2021)

Authors
Ruud Welten
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Abstract
In this contribution, a poetical transformation of victimhood is explored as described by Jean-Paul Sartre in his Saint Genet, a study of the writer Jean Genet. First, the question is answered what Sartre, who famously wrote “There are no innocent victims,” has to say about victimhood. Second, an outline is given of the context of Jean Genet’s work and the role he plays in Sartre’s thinking. There is a clear line from Sartre’s earlier study of Baudelaire to Saint Genet. Both authors try not to reject the judgement that has been passed on them but to affirm it, to turn this affirmation into an art. Third, already in his Baudelaire, but even more in Saint Genet, Sartre describes the merge of the victim and executioner as a mystical enterprise. Moreover, like Baudelaire, Genet transforms the idea of the convict and evil into a language dedicated to flowers. This leads to a transformation from victimhood to poetry.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  Continental Philosophy
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DOI 10.5840/philtoday2021726419
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