Genet's early life seems shrouded in confusion. The three sources looked at present three different stories:
In any case, Genet was without his birth parents from a very early age, probably fostered by a poor family, and spent a good deal of time in custody even as a young child. He could hardly be a foundling in the sense we know it, since Genet is known to be his birth name. He did indeed spend much of his youth as a male prostitute and thief in France, Germany, Spain and possibly elsewhere, spent years in prison, and was a member of the French Foreign Legion in Morocco.
He began writing in 1943 and produced a number of highly respected and influential plays, screenplays and novels, most dealing explicitly with crime and homosexuality. He also directed films. He is considered one of the most influential European writers of the 20th century.
He died in a cheap hotel room in the same working-class district of Paris where he had been abandoned.
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