This book is rich in association and memory for me. To start off with, I set out to obtain the English language rights to publish it, but was pipped at the post. The translator, too, is known to me as a remarkable woman. We once spent three days together in Riyad, when she was working as a consultant on a project dear to my heart. This was to make a film on the life of Ibn Saud, the only monarch in this century to have forged his own nation, Saudi Arabia, by force of arms. It was a venture that we reluctantly had to abandon in the face of great difficulties. Then there is the book’s main theme of the Palestinian tragedy, which must always evoke my profoundest responses. And in this case it comes to be linked in my mind with the fact that, during my early days in England, Genet was for me, with Sartre and de Beauvoir, one of the three great pillars of European culture.
I well remember the original Arts Theatre Club production of The Balcony in the days when the Lord Chamberlain’s theatre censorship meant such a play could only be put on before a private audience if it was to be ludicrously bowdlerised. Set in a brothel, the play showed the fantasy