22 November 1869|
|Died||19 February 1951
|Occupation||Novelist, essayist, dramatist|
|Notable works||L'immoraliste (The Immoralist)
La porte étroite (Strait Is the Gate)
Les caves du Vatican (The Vatican Caves)
La Symphonie Pastorale (The Pastoral Symphony)
Les faux-monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters)
|Notable awards||Nobel Prize in Literature
|Spouse||Madeleine Rondeaux Gide|
|French literary history|
André Paul Guillaume Gide (French: [ɑ̃dʁe pɔl ɡijom ʒid]; 22 November 1869 – 19 February 1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947 "for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight". Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticolonialism between the two World Wars.
Known for his fiction as well as his autobiographical works, Gide exposes to public view the conflict and eventual reconciliation between the two sides of his personality, split apart by a straitlaced education and a narrow social moralism. Gide's work can be seen as an investigation of freedom and empowerment in the face of moralistic and puritanical constraints, and gravitates around his continuous effort to achieve intellectual honesty. His self-exploratory texts reflect his search of how to be fully oneself, even to the point of owning one's sexual nature, without at the same time betraying one's values. His political activity is informed by the same ethos, as suggested by his repudiation of communism after his 1936 voyage to the USSR.
Gide was born in Paris on 22 November 1869, into a middle-class Protestant family. His father was a Paris University professor of law who died in 1880. His uncle was the political economist Charles Gide.
Gide was brought up in isolated conditions in Normandy and became a prolific writer at an early age, publishing his first novel, The Notebooks of Andre Walter (French: Les Cahiers d'André Walter), in 1891, at the age of twenty-one.
In 1893 and 1894, Gide traveled in Northern Africa, and it was there that he came to accept his attraction to boys.
He befriended Oscar Wilde in Paris, and in 1895 Gide and Wilde met in Algiers. Wilde had the impression that he had introduced Gide to homosexuality, but, in fact, Gide had already discovered this on his own.
The middle years
In 1908, Gide helped found the literary magazine Nouvelle Revue Française (The New French Review). In 1916, Marc Allégret, only 15 years old, became his lover. Marc was the son of Elie Allégret, best man at Gide's wedding. Of Allégret's five children, André Gide adopted Marc. The two fled to London, in retribution for which his wife burned all his correspondence – "the best part of myself," he later commented. In 1918, he met Dorothy Bussy, who was his friend for over thirty years and translated many of his works into English.
In the 1920s, Gide became an inspiration for writers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1923, he published a book on Fyodor Dostoyevsky; however, when he defended homosexuality in the public edition of Corydon (1924) he received widespread condemnation. He later considered this his most important work.
In 1923, he sired a daughter, Catherine, by Elisabeth van Rysselberghe, a woman who was much younger than he. He had known her for a long time, as she was the daughter of his closest female friend, Maria Monnom, the wife of his friend the Belgian neo-impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe. This would cause the only crisis in the long-standing relationship between Allégret and Gide and damaged the relation with Van Rysselberghe. This was possibly Gide's only sexual liaison with a woman, and it was brief in the extreme; but his daughter Catherine became his only descendant by blood. He liked to call Elisabeth "La Dame Blanche" ("The White Lady"). Elisabeth eventually left her husband to move to Paris and manage the practical aspects of Gide's life (they had adjoining apartments built for each of them on the rue Vavin). She worshipped him, but evidently they no longer had a sexual relationship. Gide's legal wife, Madeleine, died in 1938. Later he explored their unconsummated marriage in his memoir of Madeleine, Et Nunc Manet in Te.
In 1924, he published an autobiography, Unless the seed dies (French: Si le grain ne meurt).
After 1925, he began to demand more humane conditions for criminals.
From July 1926 to May 1927, he travelled through the French Equatorial Africa colony with his lover Marc Allégret. Gide went successively to Middle Congo (now the Republic of the Congo), Oubangui-Chari (now the Central African Republic), briefly to Chad and then to Cameroun before returning to France. He related his peregrinations in a journal called Travels in the Congo (French: Voyage au Congo) and Return from Chad (French: Retour du Tchad). In this published journal, he criticized the behavior of French business interests in the Congo and inspired reform. In particular, he strongly criticized the Large Concessions regime (French: régime des Grandes Concessions), i.e., a regime according to which part of the colony was conceded to French companies and where these companies could exploit all of the area's natural resources, in particular rubber. He related, for instance, how natives were forced to leave their village for several weeks to collect rubber in the forest, and went as far as comparing their exploitation to slavery. The book had important influence on anti-colonialism movements in France and helped re-evaluate the impact of colonialism.
During the 1930s, he briefly became a communist, or more precisely, a fellow traveler (he never formally joined the Communist Party). As a distinguished writer sympathizing with the cause of communism, he was invited to tour the Soviet Union as a guest of the Soviet Union of Writers. The tour disillusioned him and he subsequently became quite critical of Soviet Communism. This criticism of Communism caused him to lose socialist friends, especially when he made a clean break with it in Retour de L'U.R.S.S. in 1936. He was also a contributor to The God That Failed.
My faith in communism is like my faith in religion: it is a promise of salvation for mankind. If I have to lay my life down that it may succeed, I would do so without hesitation—André Gide, The God That Failed
...and after his visit to the Soviet Union:
It is impermissible under any circumstances for morals to sink as low as communism has done. No one can begin to imagine the tragedy of humanity, of morality, of religion and of freedoms in the land of communism, where man has been debased beyond belief—André Gide, quoted in Culture, Civilization, and Humanity
In 1939, he become the first living author to be published in the prestigious Bibliothèque de la Pléiade.
Gide left France for Africa in 1942 and lived in Tunis until the end of World War II. In 1947, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He devoted much of his last years to publishing his Journal. Gide died in Paris on 19 February 1951. The Roman Catholic Church placed his works on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1952.
- Alan Sheridan, André Gide: A Life in the Present. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.
The first full-length English-language biography on Gide since 1951, this work is exhaustively researched, detailed and comprehensive. From the back cover: "Following Gide from his first forays among the Symbolists through his sexual and political awakenings, to his worldwide fame as a writer, sage, and commentator on his age, Alan Sheridan richly conveys the drama of a remarkable life; the depth, breadth, and vitality of an incomparable oeuvre; and the spirit of a time that both so aptly expressed."
Works by André Gide
Novels, novellas, stories
- Les cahiers d'André Walter – (The Notebooks of André Walter) - 1891 - A semi-autobiographical novel that explores Gide's teen years and his relationships with his cousin Madeleine ("Emmanuèle" in the novel) and his mother.
- Le voyage d'Urien – 1893 - A Symbolist novella - Urien and his companions set sail on the fabulous ship Orion to mythological lands, to the stagnant sea of boredom, and to the icy sea.
- Paludes – (Marshlands) - 1895 - "A satire of literary Paris in general, the world of the salons and cénacles, and, in particular, of the group of more-or-less Symbolist young writers who frequented Mallarmé's salon."
- El Hadj - 1896 - A tale of nineteen pages in the French edition and subtitled "The Treatise of the False Prophet," the narrator (El Hadj) tells of a prince who sets out on a journey with the men of his city. After the prince dies, El Hadj conceals the truth and, forced to become a prophet, he leads the men home.
- Le Prométhée mal enchaîné – (Prometheus Ill-Bound) - 1899 - A light-hearted novella in which Prometheus leaves his mountain, enters a Paris cafe, converses with the waiter and customers, and shows them the eagle eating his liver.
- L'immoraliste – (The Immoralist) - 1902 - The story of a man, Michel, who travels through Europe and North Africa, attempting to transcend the limitations of conventional morality by surrendering to his appetites (including his attraction to young Arab boys), while neglecting his wife Marcelline.
- La porte étroite – (Strait Is the Gate) - 1909 - Set in the Protestant upper-middle-class world of Normandy in the 1880s and reflecting Gide's own relationship with his cousin Madeleine, Jerome loves his cousin Alissa, but fails to find happiness.
- Isabelle – 1911 - The tale of a young man whose studies take him to the remote country home of an eccentric family, where he falls in love with a portrait of their absent daughter. As he unravels the mystery of her absence, he is forced to abandon his passionate ideal. Published with The Pastoral Symphony in Two Symphonies by Vintage Books.
- Les caves du Vatican – (translated as Lafcadio's Adventures and The Vatican Cellars) - 1914 - Divided into five sections, each named after a character, the farcical story, “wanders through numerous capitals of Europe, and involves saints, adventurers, pickpockets…” and centers on the character Lafcadio Wluiki.
- La Symphonie Pastorale – (The Pastoral Symphony) - 1919 - A modern version of the parable of the lost sheep, a story of the illicit love between a pastor and the blind orphan whom he rescues from poverty and raises in his own home. His attempt to shield her from the knowledge of evil ends in tragedy. Published with Isabelle in Two Symphonies by Vintage Books.
- Les faux-monnayeurs – (The Counterfeiters) - 1925 - An honest treatment of homosexuality and the collapse of morality in middle-class France. As a young writer Edouard attempts to write a novel called Les Faux Monnayeurs, he and his friends Olivier and Bernard pursue a search for knowledge in themselves and their relationships.
- L'école des femmes – (The School for Wives) - 1929
- Robert – 1930
- Geneviève – 1936
- (Three novellas later published in one volume.) "A tripartite and delicate dissection of a marriage, as evidenced through the journals of a man, his wife and their daughter. In The School for Wives, it is Eveline's narrative, from the first elation of her love for Robert, a love which finds no flaw and only self-effacement before the assured superiority of her husband. And then later the recognition of his many weaknesses, the desire to leave him - and concomitantly the Catholic faith. In turn it is Robert's story, in part a justification, in part an expression of his love for his wife, and of the growing religious belief which coincides with Eveline' rejection of hers. And lastly their daughter Genevieve recalls an incident in her youth, in no way connected with the drama played out between her parents.... Overall, a not always integrated... examination of moral and religious unrest..."
- Thésée – (Theseus) - 1946 - The mythical hero of Athens, now elderly, narrates his life story from his carefree youth to his killing of the Minotaur.
Poetical and lyrical works
- Les poésies d'André Walter – 1892
- La tentative amoureuse – 1893
- Les nourritures terrestres – 1897 (literally meaning "Earthly Food" and translated as The Fruits of the Earth) - "A work of mixed forms: verse, prose poem, travelogue, memoir and dialogue... In the first part, Gide describes his visits to southern Italy, a farm in Normandy, and various locales in North Africa. The persistent theme is living in the present and soaking up sensations and experiences, whether pleasant or unpleasant... The second part, written when Gide was in his sixties, is an endorsement of his youthful philosophy, as well as a broader comment on its religious and political context."
- L'offrande lyrique – 1913 (translation from Tagore)
- Les nouvelles nourritures – 1935
- Philoctète – (Philoctetes) - 1899 - Broadly borrowed from the play by Sophocles. Philoctetes was left behind by Odysseus and his men after his wound from a snake bite began to stink. Now, ten years later, Odysseus returns to the deserted island where they left Philoctetes, to retrieve Heracles' bow and arrows.
- Le roi Candaule – - (King Candaule) - 1901 - Taken from stories in Herodotus and Plato, the Lydian king Candaule believes his wife to be the most beautiful woman and wishes to show her off to the humble fisherman Gyges.
- Saül – 1903
- Le retour de l'enfant prodigue – 1907 (The Return of the Prodigal Infant)
- Bethsabé – 1912
- Œdipe – 1931
- Perséphone – 1934
- Le retour – 1946 (The Return)
- Le procès – 1947
- Si le grain ne meurt – (translated as If It Die) - 1926 - (The original title means "If the grain dies," and comes from John 12:24: "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.") - Gide's autobiography of his childhood and youth, ending with the death of his mother in 1895.
- Et Nunc Manet in Te - - (translated as Madeleine) - 1951 - (The original title comes from a quote of the Roman poet Virgil, meaning "And now she remains in you.") Gide's memoir of his wife Madeleine and their complex relationship and unconsummated marriage. While she was alive, Gide had excluded all references to his wife in his writings. This was published after her death in 1938.
- Journals, 1889–1949 – Published in four volumes - translated and edited by Justin O'Brien - Also available in an abridged two-volume edition. "Beginning with a single entry for the year 1889, when he was twenty, and continuing throughout his life, the Journals of André Gide constitute an enlightening, moving, and endlessly fascinating chronicle of creative energy and conviction."
- Feuilles de route 1895–1896 – 1897
- Amyntas – (North African Journals) - 1906 - (translated into English by Richard Howard under the same title.) Written between 1899 and 1904, these journals recall Gide's journey to North Africa, scene of his first significant encounter with a beloved Arab boy. The title alludes to Virgil's Eclogues, in which Amyntas and Mopsus (the title of Gide's first sketch) are the names of graceful shepherds. The exotic country of North Africa enraptures Gide - the enchantment of the souk, the narrow odorous streets, the hashish dens, the glowing colors of sky, the desert itself.
- La marche Turque – 1914
- Voyage au Congo – 1927
- Le retour de Tchad – 1928
- Retour de l'U. R. S. S. – 1936
- Retouches â mon retour de l'U. R. S. S. – 1937
Philosophical & Religious Writings
- Corydon – 1920 - Four Socratic-style dialogues that explore the nature of homosexuality and its place in society.
- Numquid et tu . . .? – 1922 - (The title comes from a quote from the book of John and means "Are you also [deceived]?") Gide's notebook which documents his religious quest, much of it consisting of his comments on Biblical quotations, often comparing the Latin and French translations.
Criticism on Literature and Art
- Le traité du Narcisse: Theorie du symbole – (The Treatise of Narcissus: Theory of the Symbol) - 1891 - A work on Symbolism, Gide begins with the myth of Narcissus, then explores the meaning of the Symbol and the truth behind it.
- Réflexions sur quelques points de littérature – 1897
- Lettres à Angèle – 1900
- De l'influence en littérature – 1900
- Les limites de l'art – 1901
- De l'importance du public – (The Importance of the Public) - 1903 - Gide discusses his movement away from Symbolism and "Art for Art's Sake" towards the need to communicate with a wider public.
- Dostoïevsky d'après sa correspondance – 1908
- Oscar Wilde – 1910
- Charles-Louis-Philippe – 1911
- C. R. D. N. – 1911
- Souvenirs de la Cour d'Assises – 1914
- Dostoïevsky – 1923
- Incidences – 1924
- Caractères – 1925
- Le journal des faux-monnayeurs – 1926
- Dindiki – 1927
- Essai sur Montaigne – 1929
- Un esprit non-prévenu – 1929
- La séquestrée de Poitiers – 1930
- L'affaire Redureau – 1930
- Notes sur Chopin – 1938 - Reflecting Gide's love of Chopin, this work urges the pianist who plays Chopin to seek, invent, improvise, and gradually discover the composer's thoughts.
- Découvrons Henri Michaux – 1941 - The text of a talk Gide gave to a literary society on his friend, the Belgian poet Henri Michaux.
- Paul Valéry – 1947
- L'arbitraire – 1947
- Eloges – 1948
- Littérature engagée – 1950
Collections of Essays and Lectures
- Prétextes - 1903
- Nouveaux prétextes – 1911
- If It Die: Autobiographical Memoir by André Gide (first edition 1920) (Vintage Books, 1935, translated by Dorothy Bussy: "but when Ali – that was my little guide's name – led me up among the sandhills, in spite of the fatigue of walking in the sand, I followed him; we soon reached a kind of funnel or crater, the rim of which was just high enough to command the surrounding country"..."As soon as we got there, Ali flung the coat and rug down on the sloping sand; he flung himself down too, and stretched on his back"..."I was not such a simpleton as to misunderstand his invitation"..."I seized the hand he held out to me and tumbled him on to the ground." [p. 251]
- Out of the past, Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the present (Miller 1995:87)
- If It Die: Autobiographical Memoir by André Gide (first edition 1920) (Vintage Books, 1935, translated by Dorothy Bussy: "I should say that if Wilde had begun to discover the secrets of his life to me, he knew nothing as yet of mine; I had taken care to give him no hint of them, either by deed or word."..."No doubt, since my adventure at Sousse, there was not much left for the Adversary to do to complete his victory over me; but Wilde did not know this, nor that I was vanquished beforehand or, if you will"..."that I had already triumphed in my imagination and my thoughts over all my scruples." [p. 286])
- André Biography. nobelprize.org
- Voyage au Congo suivi du Retour du Tchad, in Lire, July–August 1995 (French)
- André Gide as quoted by T. Heggy in his book Culture, Civilization, and Humanity (2003). ISBN 0-7146-5554-6
- "André Gide (1869–1951)". Musée virtuel du Protestantisme français. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
- Andre Gide Biography (1869–1951). eninimports.com
- From the backcover of: Alan Sheridan, André Gide: A Life in the Present. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.
- Unless otherwise noted, summaries of the works of André Gide are taken from: Alan Sheridan, André Gide: A Life in the Present. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. See the index at the back for page references.
- Also see the article on Andre Gide in Contemporary Authors Online, 2003, Gale Publishing (accessed 04/11/2014 with library card); and the article on Andre Gide in French on French Wikipedia - https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andre_Gide.
- Alan Sheridan, p.109.
- From the back covers of the Dual-Language edition published by Dover Publications, 1996 and the Dover Thrift Edition, 1996.
- From the back cover of Two Symphonies, published by Vintage Books, 1959.
- From the back cover of the Vintage edition, Lafcadio’s Adventures, 1960.
- From the back cover of Two Symphonies, published by Vintage Books, 1959.
- Kirkus Reviews, January 16, 1949. Online at https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/andre-gide-5/the-school-for-wives-robert-and-genevieve/ (retrieved May 2014).
- Review by Steven Davis of Rowlett, TX, published on Amazon.com on April 7, 2014.
- From the back cover of André Gide Journals, Volume 1: 1889-1913, translated and edited by Justin O'Brien. University of Illinois Press, 2000.
- From Publisher's Weekly as quoted on Amazon.com.
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- Website of the Catherine Gide Foundation, held by Catherine Gide, his daughter.
- Works by André Gide at Project Gutenberg
- Center for Gidian Studies
- Amis d'André Gide in French
- Period newspaper articles on Gide interface in French
- Andre Gide, 1947 Nobel Laureate for Literature
- André Gide: A Brief Introduction
- Gide at Maderia in Jersey, 1901–7
- Works by André Gide (public domain in Canada)