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A long ago passion
To know more and more about the life and other works of the extraordinary Jean Genet


Nazanin Malekan
April 30, 2006

I have had the chance to get to know about the French writer, poet and politically active figure in my country about 6 years ago, when I actually tried to play the role of "Madam" from "The Maids-Les Bonnes" at one of Tehran's City Hall , one of the capital's major cultural centers, to no avail...

The story began when a director friend of mine and I , tried figuring out and converting the one and only available Persian text of the play into a rather more theatrical version, with all due respect to the translator at the time. We, along with two other actresses then began to rehears the play for about 6 months.

At that time, it would have been the first group to have ever thought about putting up this amazing, yet complex absurd on the stage in Iran .The effort remained rewardless though, since it required major censorship due to existing codes ruling the society, to which the director opposed as she strongly believed one should either stay completely loyal to the original intentions of the play and the writer or forget about it.

"The Maids" went on stage a year after by two different groups and directors. The message got through , yet pretty different than how we thought it should.

However, we didn't give up and went on with translating the text one more time from the original French and English versions which were hardly accessible at the time, in a way that we had to ask a friend, traveling to Paris and then back to Tehran to bring along the French text. We needed to compare the two in order to be as exact as possible. The Persian text was ready to get published after another six months. We visited and presented our work to almost all publications throughout the city, yet to no avail since it was going to be our first contribution as an editor and translator.

Trying to get the book printed and having a publication invest on it appeared to be more difficult and farfeched than we ever emagined, specially after finding several printed ones of the same at the book stores some times later, done by famous translators. Did we give up? No, of course not! Never give in without a fight they say, and we didnâ't either.

The passion to know more and more about the life and other works of this extraordinary and in my view, outstanding figure led us to add whatever there is about him and his works to the book, which eventually made quite a reference out of it, the one and only in my country, addressing the ever-striving drama and acting students with little resources offered to them. This time, we even got to sign a contract with one seemingly interested publisher.

A year passed by and the book was stock at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance because of the same anti-Islamic facts in the content. Jean Genetâ's famous interview with the Playboy is only one example.

Not wanting to be our own publisher, we finally decided to wash our hands from ever getting the book printed inside and here I am, yet not giving up to find anyone interested enough to help me and of course a large group of keen Iranian students and readers, enrich the possibility of knowing more about Jean Genet in Persian language.

If anybody ever came up with any idea, kindly let me know through emailing me at

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