The Miracle of the Rose

The Miracle of the Rose
Author Jean Genet
Original title Miracle de la rose
Translator Bernard Frechtman
Country France
Language French
Genre Semi-autobiographical novel
Publisher Marc Barbezat - L'Arbalete (Original French), Grove Press (English Translation)
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print
ISBN 978-1-1270-5464-0 (English hardcover)
Preceded by Our Lady of the Flowers
Followed by Funeral Rites

The Miracle of the Rose (French: Miracle de la rose) is a 1946 book by Jean Genet about experiences as a detainee in Mettray Penal Colony and Fontevrault prison - although there is no direct evidence of Genet ever having been imprisoned in the latter establishment. This autobiographical work has a non-linear structure: stories from Genet's adolescence are mixed in with his experiences as a thirty-year-old man at Fontevrault prison. At Mettray, Genet describes homosexual erotic desires for his fellow adolescent detainees. There is also a fantastical dimension to the narrative, particularly in Fontevrault passages concerning a prisoner called Harcamone who is condemned to death for murder. Genet idolises Harcamone and writes poetically about the rare occasions on which he catches a glimpse of this character. Genet was detained in Mettray Penal Colony between 2 September 1926 and 1 March 1929, after which, at the age of 18, he joined the Foreign Legion.

The Pogues have a song titled "Hell's Ditch," which contains references to the novel. The composer Hans Werner Henze composed a piece with a title of the same name 'Le Miracle de la Rose'.


Luc Forlivesi, Georges-Fran├žois Pottier and Sophie Chassat, Educate & Punish: the agricultural penal colony of Mettray (1839-1937) (in French), Presses universitaires de Rennes, October 2005.

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