«Eccola qui, Chiara, più chiara che mai». A proposito delle Serve di Jean Genet
The significance of names and nicknames in the literary works of Jean Genet (1910-1986) is widely acknowledged. As someone born to an unknown father and subsequently given up for adoption, the writer has consistently grappled with questions of identity. Considering both existential and stylistic aspects, this study delves into Genet’s first dramatic play, Les bonnes (1947, translated as The Maids). Les bonnes is particularly relevant for onomastic analysis, as the names chosen by the author repeated, mistaken, and misused serve to drive the stage action while also describing the essence of the main characters through antiphrases. The play is conceived as a ceremonial performance, with the young maids Claire and Solange embodying a fluid sense of identity. The act of self-naming rarely aligns with a direct address, instead obscuring the key to interpreting the characters. It is within the fissures and disruptions of their wicked and ritualistic performance that the essence of the characters can be gleaned.