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The Immoralist Penguin Classics cover
|Translator||Dorothy Bussy (1930)|
|Publisher||Mercure de France (French, 1902); Alfred A. Knopf (English, 1930)|
Published in English
|Media type||Hardback and paperback|
Recovering from tuberculosis while on his honeymoon in Tunis, Michel acquires a renewed appreciation for life. His attraction to a series of Arab boys punctuates his journey of self-discovery, and he finds a kindred spirit in the rebellious Ménalque.
The Immoralist is narrated by Michel, and he is the central protagonist.
Marceline is the wife of Michel. She and Michel do not know each other very well when they get married. She is religious, and this contrasts with Michel's lack of religious faith. When Michel is ill, and after this, Marceline is very attentive and caring towards him. She cares for him and nurses him back to health.
Marceline follows Michel on his travels, even when she becomes ill as well. She hardly complains about anything that she is put through. Before she dies, she comments on the new doctrine that has taken hold of Michel.
Ménalque is an acquaintance of Michel's. He has a reputation for being disaffected with society, and this draws Michel, who is in a similar position. Ménalque lives for the present and does not require possessions. He is tired of society and the people who follow it, and he talks to Michel about his views.
In his book Culture and Imperialism, Edward Saïd uses The Immoralist as an example of imperialism's effects on the colonizer. Saïd puts Gide's work in the context of Africanism, which deals with African peoples and cultures in a Eurocentric way.
The novel was adapted into a play of the same name by Augustus Goetz and Ruth Goetz. The play had a Broadway-theatre production at the Royale Theatre in New York City, New York, from February to May 1954; it was directed by Daniel Mann and starred James Dean, Louis Jourdan and Geraldine Page.