Madeleine Gobeil: Did you start writing to escape from solitude?
Jean Genet: No, because I wrote things that made me even more solitary. No, I don’t know why I started writing. What the deeper reasons are, I don’t know. Perhaps this: the first time I became conscious of the power of writing was when I sent a postcard to a German friend who was in America at the time. I didn’t really know what to say to her. The side I was supposed to write on had a sort of white, grainy texture, a little like snow, and it was this surface that led me to speak of a snow that was of course absent from prison, to speak of Christmas, and instead of just writing anything, I wrote to her about the quality of that thick paper. That was it, the trigger that allowed me to write. This was no doubt not the real motive, but it’s what gave me the first taste of freedom.
[interview of 1964]