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Introduction & Overview of The Balcony by Jean Genet

This Study Guide consists of approximately 76 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Balcony.
This section contains 294 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
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The Balcony Summary & Study Guide Description

The Balcony Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on The Balcony by Jean Genet.

Introduction

Jean Genet's The Balcony (Le Balcon in original French) is considered by many to be the one of his masterpieces, though it was written after he said he would give up writing plays altogether. The Balcony was his first commercially successful play. Like many of Genet's works, the play was inspired by Genet's contempt for society and obsession with topics such as sex, prostitution, politics, and revolution. Set inside a brothel where common men play men of power in their sexual fantasies, The Balcony reflects on the emptiness of societal roles. Reality and illusion feed off each other in the difficult play. Dreams may make reality tolerable, but when they come true, as when the customers are forced to live the roles they play, it is not as satisfying.

The Balcony was first published in 1956, and was first produced in London on April 22, 1957, at the Arts Theatre Club. Genet did not like the production because it was done in a way that was too tasteful and realistic. His protests led to his banishment from the theater during the production. The play made its American debut in March 1960 at the Circle in the Square Theater, in New York City. There The Balcony ran for 672 performances and won an Obie Award for Genet. It was generally well received, though some critics thought it was hard to understand because of its complexity and reliance on illusion. The first French performance of The Balcony took place in May 1960. Since these initial performances, the play has been produced on a regular basis. As Donald Malcolm of the New Yorker wrote, "M. Genet's vision of society is both perverse and private, and his play is a species of Grand Guignol arresting, horrific, and trivial."

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This section contains 294 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Balcony Study Guide
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The Balcony from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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