Gide, André (22 November 1869 - 19 February 1951)
André Gide (22 November 1869 - 19 February 1951)
Catharine Savage Brosman
See also the Gide entries in DLB 65: French Novelists, 1900–1930; and DLB 321: Twentieth-Century French Dramatists.
SELECTED BOOKS: Les Cahiers d’André Walter, anonymous (Paris: Didier-Perrin, 1891); translated by Wade Baskin as The Notebooks of André Walter (New York: Philosophical Library, 1968; London: Owen, 1968);
Le Traité du Narcisse (Paris: Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, 1891); translated by Dorothy Bussy as Narcissus, in The Return of the Prodigal . . . (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
Les Poésies d’André Walter, anonymous (Paris: Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, 1892);
La Tentative amoureuse; ou, Le Traité du vain désir (Paris: Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, 1893); translated by Bussy as The Lovers’ Attempt, in The Return of the Prodigal . . . (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
Le Voyage d’Urien (Paris: Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, 1893); translated by Baskin as Urien’s Voyage (New York: Philosophical Library, 1964; London: Owen, 1964);
Paludes (Paris: Librairie de l’Art Indépendant, 1895); translated by George D. Painter as Marshlands, in Marshlands and Prometheus Misbound: Two Satires (New York: New Directions, 1953; London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
Les Nourritures terrestres (Paris: Mercure de France, 1897); translated by Bussy as The Fruits of the Earth, in The Fruits of the Earth (New York: Knopf, 1949; London: Secker & Warburg, 1949);
Le Prométhée mal enchaîné (Paris: Mercure de France, 1899); translated by Lilian Rothermere as Prometheus Illbound (London: Chatto & Windus, 1919);
Philoctète (Paris: Mercure de France, 1899)–comprises Philoctète, Le Traité du Narcisse, La Tentative amoureuse, and El Hadj; Philoctète translated by Jackson Mathews as Philoctetes, in My Theater (New York: Knopf, 1952); El Hadj translated by Bussy, in The
Return of the Prodigal . . . (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
Feuilles de route, 1895–1896 (Brussels: Vandersypen, 1899);
Lettres à Angèle, 1898–1899 (Paris: Mercure de France, 1900);
Le Roi Candaule (Paris: Revue Blanche, 1901); translated by Mathews as King Candaules, in My Theater (New York: Knopf, 1952), pp. 161–235;
L’Immoraliste (Paris: Mercure de France, 1902); translated by Bussy as The Immoralist (New York: Knopf, 1930; London: Cassell, 1930);
Saül (Paris: Mercure de France, 1903; enlarged, adding a preface by the author and his “De I’évolution du théâtre,” 1904); enlarged edition translated by Mathews as Saul and The Evolution of the Theater, in My Theater (New York: Knopf, 1952), pp. 1–107, 259–275;
Prétextes: Réflexions sur quelques points de littérature et de morale (Paris: Mercure de France, 1903; enlarged, 1913); translated by Angelo P. Bertocci and others as Pretexts: Reflections on Literature and Morality, edited by Justin O’Brien (London: Secker & Warburg, 1959; New York: Meridian, 1959);
Amyntas (Paris: Mercure de France, 1906); translated by Villiers David (London: Bodley Head, 1958);
Le Retour de I’enfantprodigue (Paris: Vers et Prose, 1907); translated by Bussy as The Return of the Prodigal, in The Return of the Prodigal . . . (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
La Porte étroite (Paris: Mercure de France, 1909); translated by Bussy as Strait Is the Gate (New York: Knopf, 1924; London:Jarrolds, 1924);
Oscar Wilde: In Memoriam (souvenirs); Le “De Profundis” (Paris: Mercure de France, 1910); translated by Bernard Frechtman as Oscar Wilde: In Memoriam (Reminiscences); “De Profundis” (New York: Philosophical Library, 1949);
Nouveaux Prétextes: Réflexions sur quelques points de Littérature etde Morale (Paris: Mercure de France, 1911);
C.R.D.N., anonymous (Bruges: Sainte-Catherine, 1911); enlarged as Corydon (1920); trade edition, as Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1924; enlarged, 1929); translated (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1950; London: Secker & Warburg, 1952); republished (Paris: Gallimard, 1977);
Isabelle (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française/Marcel Rivière, 1911); translated by Bussy, in Two Symphonies (New York: Knopf, 1931; London: Cassell, 1931), pp. 1–137;
Bethsabé (Paris: Bibliothèque de l’Occident, 1912); translated by Mathews as Bathsheba, in My Theater (New York: Knopf, 1952), pp. 109–127;
Souvenirs de la cour d’assises (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1914);
Les Caves du Vatican, 2 volumes (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1914); translated by Bussy as The Vatican Swindle (New York: Knopf, 1925); translation republished as Lafcadio’s Adventures (New York: Knopf, 1927); republished again as The Vatican Cellars (London: Cassell, 1952);
La Symphonie pastorale (Paris: Gallimard, 1919); translated by Bussy as The Pastoral Symphony, in Two Symphonies (New York: Knopf, 1931; London: Cassell, 1931), pp. 139–233;
Si le grain ne meurt, 2 volumes (Bruges: Sainte-Catherine, 1920, 1921); translated by Bussy as If It Die . . . (New York: Random House, 1935; London: Secker & Warburg, 1950);
Morceaux choisis (Paris: Gallimard, 1921);
André Gide (Paris: G. Crès, 1921);
Numquid et tu . . . ? anonymous (Bruges: Sainte-Catherine, 1922); trade edition, as Gide (Paris: Pléiade/Schiffrin, 1926); translated by O’Brien as Numquid et tu. . . ? in The Journals of André Gide, volume 2: 1914–1927 (New York: Knopf, 1948; London: Secker & Warburg, 1948), pp. 169–190;
Dostoïevsky (Paris: Plon-Nourrit, 1923); translated by Arnold Bennett as Dostoyevsky (London & Toronto: Dent, 1925; New York: Knopf, 1926);
Incidences (Paris: Gallimard, 1924);
Caractères (Paris: A l’Enseigne de la Porte étroite, 1925);
Les Faux-Monnayeurs (Paris: Gallimard, 1925); translated by Bussy as The Countefeiters (New York: Knopf, 1927; London & New York: Knopf, 1928); translation republished as The Coiners (London: Cassell, 1950);
Journal des Faux-Monnayeurs (Paris: Eos, 1926); translated by O’Brien as Logbook of the Coiners (London: Cassell, 1952);
Voyage au Congo (Paris: Gallimard, 1927); translated by Bussy as Travels in the Congo, in Travels in the Congo (New York: Knopf, 1929), pp. 1–199;
Le Retour du Tchad: Carnets de route (Paris: Gallimard, 1928); translated by Bussy as Return from Lake Chad, in Travels in the Congo (New York: Knopf, 1929), pp. 201–375;
L’Ecole des femmes (Paris: Gallimard, 1929); translated by Bussy as The School for Wives (New York: Knopf, 1929);
Essai sur Montaigne (Paris: Schiffrin/Pléiade, 1929); translated by Stephen H. Guest and Trevor E. Blewitt as Montaigne: An Essay in Two Parts (London: Black-amore / New York: Liveright, 1929);
Un Esprit non prévenu (Paris: Kra, 1929);
Robert (Paris: Gallimard, 1930); translated by Bussy, in The School for Wives; Robert; Geneviève, or The Unfinished Confidence (New York: Knopf, 1950; London: Cassell, 1953);
(Œdipe (Paris: Gallimard, 1931); translated by John Russell as Oedipus, in Two Legends: Theseus and Oedipus (New York: Knopf, 1950), pp. 1–43; translation republished as Oedipus and Theseus (London: Secker & Warburg, 1950);
ŒEuvres complètes d’André Gide, 15 volumes, edited by Louis Martin-Chauffier (Paris: Gallimard, 1932–1939);
Pages de journal (1929–1932) (Paris: Gallimard, 1934);
Les Nouvelles Nourritures (Paris: Gallimard, 1935); translated by Bussy as Later Fruits of the Earth, in The Fruits of the Earth (New York: Knopf, 1949; London: Secker & Warburg, 1949);
Nouvelles pages de journal (1932–1935) (Paris: Gallimard, 1935);
Geneviève (Paris: Gallimard, 1936); translated by Bussy as Geneviève, or The Unfinished Confidence, in The School for Wives; Robert; Geneviève, or The Unfinished Confidence (New York: Knopf, 1950; London: Cassell, 1953);
Retour de I’U.R.S.S.(Paris: Gallimard, 1936); translated by Bussy as Return from the U.S.S.R.(New York: Knopf, 1937; London: Secker & Warburg, 1937); translation republished as Back from the U.S.S.R.(London: Secker & Warburg, 1937);
Retouches à mon Retour de I’U.R.S.S.(Paris: Gallimard, 1937); translated by Bussy as Afterthoughts: A Sequel to “Back from the U.S.S.R.” (London: Secker & Warburg, 1938); translation republished as Afterthoughts on the U.S.S.R.(New York: Dial, 1938);
Journal 1889–1939 (Paris: Gallimard, 1939); translated by O’Brien, in The Journals of André Gide, volume 1: 1889–1913; volume 2: 1914–1927; and volume 3: 1928–1939 (New York: Knopf, 1947–1949; London: Secker & Warburg, 1947–1949);
Découvrons Henri Michaux (Paris: Gallimard, 1941);
Théâatre (Paris: Gallimard, 1942)–comprises Saül; Le Roi Candaule; (éŒdipe; Perséphone; and Le Treizième Arbre; Perséphone translated by Mathews as Persephone, in My Theater (New York: Knopf, 1952);
Interviews imaginaires (Paris: Gallimard, 1942); enlarged as Interviews imaginaires; La Délivrance de Tunis, pages de journal, mai 1943 (New York: Schiffrin, 1943); translated by Malcolm Cowley as Imaginary Interviews (New York: Knopf, 1944);
Pages de journal (1939–1942) (New York: Schiffrin, 1944; Algiers: Charlot, 1944; enlarged edition, Paris: Gallimard, 1946); translated by O’Brien, in The Journals of André Gide, volume 4: 1939–1949 (New York: Knopf, 1951; London: Secker & Warburg, 1951);
Poussin (Paris: Au Divan, 1945);
Théséé (New York: Schiffrin, 1946; Paris: Gallimard, 1946); translated by Russell as Theseus (London: Horizon, 1948; New York: New Directions, 1949);
Le Retour (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1946);
Et nunc manet in te (Neuchâtel: Richard Heyd, 1947); translated by Keene Wallis as The Secret Drama of My Life (Paris & New York: Boar’s Head Books, 1951); original French enlarged as Et nunc manet in te, suivi de Journal intime (Neuchâtel: Ides et Calendes, 1951); translated by O’Brien as Madeleine (New York: Knopf, 1952) and as Et nunc Manet in te and Intimate Journal (London: Secker & War-burg, 1952);
Paul Valéry (Paris: Domar, 1947);
Poétique (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1947);
Le Procès; Pièce tirée du roman de Kafka, by Gide and Jean-Louis Barrault (Paris: Gallimard, 1947); translated by Jacqueline and Frank Sundstrom as The Trial, from the Novel of Franz Kafka (London: Secker & Warburg, 1950);
Préfaces (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1948);
Rencontres (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1948);
Les Caves du Vatican: Farce en trois actes (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1948);
Eloges (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1948);
Notes sur Chopin (Paris: L’Arche, 1948); translated by Frechtman as Notes on Chopin (New York: Philosophical Library, 1949);
Feuillets d’automne (Paris: Mercure de France, 1949); translated by Elsie Pell as Autumn Leaves (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950);
Littérature engagée, edited by Yvonne Davet (Paris: Gallimard, 1950);
Journal, 1942–1949 (Paris: Gallimard, 1950); translated by O’Brien, in The Journals of André Gide, volume 4: 1939–1949 (New York: Knopf, 1951; London: Secker & Warburg, 1951);
Ainsi soit-il ou les jeux sont faits (Paris: Gallimard, 1952); translated by O’Brien as So Be It, or The Chips Are Down (New York: Knopf, 1959; London: Chatto &Windus, 1960);
Ne jugez pas (Paris: Gallimard, 1969);
Le Récit de Michel, edited by Claude Martin (Neuchâtel: Ides et Calendes, 1972);
Les Cahiers et les Poésies d André Walter, avec des fragments inédits du Journal, edited by Martin (Paris: Gallimard, 1986);
Un fragment des Faux-Monnayeurs: Edition critique du manuscrit de Londres, edited by David Keypour (Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 1990);
A Naples: Reconnaissance à I’ltalie, edited, with an afterword, by Martin (Fontfroide: Fata Morgana, 1993);
Le Grincheux (Fontfroide: Fata Morgana, 1993);
L’Oroscope, ou Nul n’évite sa destinée: Scénario, fac-similé et transcription, edited by Daniel Durosay (Paris: Jean-Michel Place, 1995);
Le Scénario d’Isabelle, by Gide and Pierre Herbart, edited by Cameron D. E. Tolton (Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1996);
Journal, I:1887–1925, edited by Eric Marty (Paris: Gallimard, 1996);
Journal, II: 1926–1950, edited by Martine Sagaert (Paris: Gallimard, 1997);
Essais critiques, edited by Pierre Masson (Paris: Gallimard, 1999);
Le Ramier, foreword by Catherine Gide, preface by Jean-Claude Perrier, afterword by David H. Walker (Paris: Gallimard, 2002).
Editions and Collections: Le Théâtre complet d’ André Gide, 8 volumes, edited by Richard Heyd (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1947–1949);
Romans, récits et soties, oeuvres lyriques, edited by Yvonne Davet and Jean Jacques Thierry (Paris: Gallimard, 1958);
Le Roi Candaule, edited by Patrick Pollard (Bron: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 2000);
Souvenirs et voyages, edited by Pierre Masson, Daniel Durosay, and Martine Sagaert (Paris: Gallimard, 2001).
Editions in English: The Journals of André Gide, 4 volumes, translated by Justin O’Brien (New York: Knopf, 1947–1951; London: Secker & Warburg, 1947–1955);
The School for Wives; Robert; Geneviève, or The Unfinished Confidence, translated by Dorothy Bussy (New York: Knopf, 1950; London: Cassell, 1953);
Oscar Wilde (London: Kimber, 1951);
My Theater, translated by Jackson Mathews (New York: Knopf, 1952)–comprises Saul; Bathsheba; Philoctetes; King Candaules; Persephone; and The Evolution of the Theater;
Marshlands and Prometheus Misbound: Two Satires, translated by George D. Painter (New York: New Directions, 1953; London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
The Return of the Prodigal, Preceded by Five Other Treatises, with Saul, A Drama in Five Acts, translated by Bussy (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953)–comprises The Return of the Prodigal; Narcissus; The Lovers’ Attempt; El Hadj; Philoctetes; Bathsheba; and Saul;
The Immoralist, translated by Richard Howard (New York: Modern Library, 1983);
Amyntas, translated by Howard (New York: Ecco Press, 1988);
The Immoralist, translated by David Watson (New York: Penguin, 2001).
PLAY PRODUCTIONS: Le Roi Candaule, Paris, Nouveau Théâtre, 9 May 1901;
Philoctète, Paris, private performance, 3 April 1919; reading, Paris, Comédie des Champs-Elysées, 16 October 1937;
Saül, Paris, Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, 16 June 1922;
Le Retour de l’enfant prodigue, Monte Carlo, Théâtre de Monte-Carlo, 4 December 1928; Paris, ThéÈtre de I’Avenue, 23 February 1933;
(Œdipe, Antwerp, Cercle Artistique, 10 December 1931; Paris, Théâtre de l’Avenue, 18 February 1932;
Les Caves du Vatican, adapted by Gide from his novel, Montreux, Société des Belles-Lettres, 9 December 1933; revised, Paris, Comédie-Française, 13 December 1950;
Perséphone, libretto by Gide, music by Igor Stravinsky, Paris, Opéra, 30 April 1934;
Le Treizième Arbre, Marseille, Rideau Gris, 8 May 1935; Paris, Théâtre Charles de Rochefort, 13 January 1939;
Robert ou L’Intérét général, Tunis, Théâtre Municipal, 30 April 1946.
OTHER: Emmanuel Signoret, Poésies complètes, preface by Gide (Paris: Mercure de France, 1908);
Stendhal, Armance, preface by Gide (Paris: Champion, 1925);
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Vol de nuit, preface by Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1931);
Henry Monnier, Morceaux choisis, preface by Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1935);
Thomas Mann, Avertissement à l’Europe, preface by Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1937);
William Shakespeare, Théâtre complet, 2 volumes, preface by Gide (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1938);
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Théâtre, introduction by Gide (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1942);
Jean Schlumberger, Saint-Saturnin, preface by Gide (Zurich: Oprecht, 1946);
Hermann Hesse, Voyage en Orient, preface by Gide (Paris: Calmann-Lèevy, 1947);
Stendhal, Lamiel, preface by Gide (Paris: Livre Français, 1947);
Taha Hussein, Le Livre des jours, preface by Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1947);
Anthologie de la poésie Française, edited, with a preface, by Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1949; New York: Pantheon, 1949);
Knut Hamsun, La Faim, preface by Gide (Paris: Chaix, 1950).
TRANSLATIONS: Rabindranath Tagore, L’Offrande lyrique (Gitanjali) (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1914);
Joseph Conrad, Typhon (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1918);
Walt Whitman, ŒEuvres choisies, translated by Gide and others (Paris: Nouvelle Revue Française, 1918);
William Shakespeare, Antoine et Cléopdtré (Paris: Vogel, 1921);
Tagore, Amal et la lettre du roi (Paris: Vogel, 1922);
William Blake, Le Mariage du Ciel et de I’Enfer (Paris: Claude Aveline, 1923);
Aleksandr Sergéevich Pushkin, La Dame de pique, translated by Gide, Jacques Schiffrin, and Boris de Scholezer (Paris: Pléiade, 1923);
Pushkin, Nouvelles, translated by Gide and Schiffrin (Paris: Pléiade/Schiffrin, 1928);
Shakespeare, Hamlet, Acte premier (Paris: La Tortue, 1930; Brussels: Décagone, 1944);
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Second Faust: Fragment,” Nouvelle Revue Française, 38 (March 1932);
Anonymous, Arden de Feversham (partial translation), Cahiers du Sud (June-July 1933);
Shakespeare, Hamlet, bilingual edition (New York: Schiffrin, 1944; Paris: Gallimard, 1946);
Goethe, Prométhée (Paris:Jonquiére, 1951).
André Gide stated in a 1903 lecture (published in his ŒEuvres complètes[1932–1939], volume 4): “L’artiste ne peut se passer d’un public; et quand le public est absent, que faitil? II l’invente et . . . attend du futur ce que lui dénie le présent” (The artist cannot do without a public; and when the public is absent, what does he do? He invents it and . . . awaits from the future what the present denies him). Although he had already published strikingly original work and was respected by some of the literary elite, he spoke from the position of one néeding still to find, or create, his readership. He is the sort of writer of whom Oscar Wilde spoke (See Gide’s memoir in his ŒEuvres complètes, volume 3), whose works remain long misunderstood because they provide answers to questions not yet asked. His renown as an artist and a moral influence–whether healthy or, as many believed, corrupting–gradually grew throughout the first decades of the twentieth century; he had many admirers but also enemies and detractors, some of whom attacked him publicly. When, in 1947, he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and that same year the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature, it was obvious that he had found his audience, or the audience had found him, and that this audience had become international. Detractors remained, calling the honors exaggerated, undue, and his influence pernicious, but his fame remains firmly established as one of the most important French literary figures during the first half of the twentieth century, known for brilliantly crafted and highly original, if unsettling, works.
Gide’s long list of published writings demonstrates his creative vigor and the varied, Protean character of both man and work. In addition to fiction (short narratives, usually called récits in French, one long novel, and a third type he called soties) and drama, his writings include literary criticism, art criticism, an autobiography, a book on the music of Frédéric Chopin, essays on social topics, and works that fit into no genre, including the unclassifiable Les Nourritures terrestres (1897; translated in Fruits of the Earth, 1949). Perhaps his greatest literary achievement is his journal, kept from 1887 until nearly his death. Both personal diary and writer’s notebook, it is a model of incisive prose and keen insight. In addition, he was influential as an editor and a friend to other writers.
The connections between Gide’s life and his work were close, the life nourishing the work and the work reflecting back into his life, revealing him to himself involuntarily, unconsciously, as he noted as early as 1891. His caréer offers an example of the phenomenon his lifetime friend poet Paul Valéry later identified (See Valéry’s ŒEuvres complètes, volume 2): “L’oeuvre modifie l’auteur” (The work modifies the author). Notwithstanding these close connections between Gide’s life and work, his overriding literary concerns were aesthetic: “L’oeuvre d’art ne doit rien prouver; ne peut rien prouver sans tricherie” (A work of art must not prove anything; cannot prove anything without cheating), he wrote in a letter to Jules Renard, published in Nouveaux Prétextes (1911; New Pretexts). In his “Chroniques de l’Ermitage” (1905), published in his ŒEuvres complètes, he asserted that morality was “une dépendance de l’esthé-tique” (dependent upon aesthetics). He prized style and argued for discipline, difficulty, and formalism in art. In a lecture titled “De I’évolution du théâtre” (On the Evolution of the Theater) in 1904 (ŒEuvres complètes, volume 4), he stated that “I‘art naÎt de contrainte, vit de lutte, et meurt de liberté” (Art is born of constraint, lives on struggle, and dies from fréedom). His interest in the particular, or individual, was real; but art, he believed, dealt ultimately with the general. “II n’y a de vérité psychologique que particulière . . . mais il n’y a d’art que général” (There is only individual psychological truth, but only general art), he wrote in Les Faux-Monnayeurs (1925; translated as The Counterfeiters, 1927). His works are characterized by great stylization and generalization, or what he called “erosion of contours,” characteristic of classicism.
Yet, Gide was also a moralist, in the established French sense–one who both portrays mores and raises moral questions. “Mon rôle,” he wrote, “est d’inquiéter” (My role is to disturb). His is not, however, a literature of edification; as he wrote ŒEuvres complètes, volume 9), “C’est avec les beaux sentiments que I’on fait la mauvaise littérature” (It is with fine sentiments that one makes bad literature). The strong vein of moral rigor and self-searching in his work may reflect the influence of Protestant Christianity. More often, and more favorably, it is an innovative personal ethic, born of individual discipline and directed toward self-development.
Gide’s themes include sincerity, happiness, freedom, responsibility and consequences, individualism and self-discovery, desire, destiny, and religion. Passions and other motivations interested him, whether they destroy or enhance human beings. ‘Je n’aime pas les hommes; j’aime ce qui les dévore” (I do not love men; I love what devours them), says Prometheus in Le Prométhée mal enchaée;né (1899; translated as Prometheus Ill-bound, 1919). A further characteristic of his writing is self-projection: characters not only speak for the author but serve as varied selves, illustrating his potentialities and contradictions. His major works feature characters with traits that, when not counterbalanced or controlled, take over the personality and lead to extraordinary conduct. “L’oeuvre d’art est une exagération” (The work of art is an exaggeration), he wrote in his journal in 1892. In a letter to Ary Scheffer, published in his ŒEuvres complètes and written soon after Scheffer had spoken in print of Gide’s L’Immoraliste (1902; translated as The Immoralist, 1930), Gide explained one of his ways of proceeding as an artist:
Que de bourgeons nous portons en nous, cher Scheffer, qui n’écloront jamais que dans nos livres! . . . Mais si, par volonté, on les supprime tous, sauf un, comme il croÎt aussitôt, comme il grandit! . . . Pour créer un héros ma recette est bien simple: Prendre un de ces bourgeons, le mettre en pot–tout seul–on arrive bientôt à un individu admirable.
(How many buds we bear within ourselves, dear Scheffer, which will never blossom except in our books! . . . But if, by design, one suppresses them all, except one, how it grows at once, how it gets big! . . . To create a hero my recipe is very simple: Take one of these buds, put it in a pot–all alone–and soon one has an wondrous individual.)
The artist resembles a horticulturalist who removes most of the buds from a stalk in order for those remaining to develop and blossom extraordinarily. Aesthetically, the effect is focus, drama, perhaps tragedy. For the artist, it is something like catharsis. As early as 1893 Gide wrote in La Tentative amoureuse; ou, Le Traité du vain désir (translated as The Lovers’ Attempt, 1953):
Nos livres n’auront pas été les récks très véridiques de nous-mêmes,–mais plutôt de nos plaintifs désirs, le souhait d’autres vies à jamais défendues, de tous les gestes impossibles. Ici j’écris un rêve qui dérangeait par trop ma pensée et réclamait son existence. . . . Chaque livre n’est plus qu’une tentation différée.
(Our books will not be the accurate accounts of ourselves,–but rather of our plaintive desires, the wish for other lives forbidden always, for all impossible déeds. Here I write a dream that bothered my thought excessively and demanded to exist. . . . Each book is only a temptation postponed.)
Gide’s life was one of internal, sometimes external, conflict, the currents of which shaped his entire work and ultimately drew to him a tremendously varied readership. He wrote in the note appended to part one of his autobiography, Si le grain ne meurt (1920, 1921; translated as If It Die . . ., 1935): ‘Je suis un être de dialogue; tout en moi combat et se contredit” (I am a being of dialogue; everything in me fights and contradicts itself). One who saw his existence in dramatic terms was the Catholic poet Paul Claudel, long a correspondent despite their disagreements; he wrote in a letter dated July 1926: “Vous êtes l’enjeu, l’acteur et le théâtre d’une grande lutte” (You are the stakes, actor, and theater of a great struggle). In his introduction to Gide’s L’Oroscope (1995, The Mountain Watcher), critic Daniel Durosay suggests that Gide’s existence was “fondée sur le mal-être et son dépassement” (founded on ill-being and its surpassing).
Born on 22 November 1869, André Paul Guillaume Gide was the only child of Paul Gide, a Paris law professor from a southern family, and his wife, Juliette (née Rondeaux), who came from Normandy and had considerable personal wealth. Both parents were of Calvinist lineage, though the Rondeaux family had been Catholic until the late eightéenth century, and a collateral branch reverted to the Roman Church. Gide stressed in Si le grain ne meurt his dual and opposing heritage, northern and southern, Catholic and Protestant. In practice, Protestant belief and its severe morality dominated his boyhood and early youth, and, though he struggled against it, in some ways he never freed himself entirely from its legacy, both enriching and burdensome. His highly developed individualistic sense derived in part from belonging to a tiny minority (the French population was approximately 2 percent Protestant around 1900).
Gide was a solitary child, with few playmates, though the famous opening scene from Si le grain ne meurt depicts him playing with the concierge’s son. From 1877 until late October 1880 he attended the Ecole Alsacienne, a private school, with interruptions (thrée months’ suspension for unseemly conduct and absence for illness). Upon his father’s death in late October 1880, when Gide was not quite eleven, his mother took him to Normandy, then Montpellier. Upon their return to Paris, he re-enrolled in the Ecole Alsacienne but was withdrawn shortly because of what were termed nervous troubles. After studying with private tutors, he returned and graduated with a baccalaureate in 1889. He was surrounded by women–mother, aunt, his mother’s former governess, and various Norman cousins. Among the latter was Madeleine Rondeaux, slightly older than he. From adolescence on, he favored her for her reserve, tact, and intelligence. By chance, he discovered her mother in the arms of a man not her husband, and then realized that Madeleine was aware of her mother’s infidelity and was déeply hurt by it. She became, as he wrote in Si le grain ne meurt, “un nouvel orient de ma vie” (a new orientation of my life), and he vowed to protect her thenceforth.
Gide’s obvious narcissism was demonstrated early by his fascination with mirrors and by his diary, which, in its published form, dates from 1887. In the eyes of certain psychological critics such as Thomas Cordle, narcissism remained a permanent feature of his psyche. Having no obligation to choose a profession, because of his personal fortune, Gide embarked on a literary caréer. His talent was recognized early by his elders–including poet Stéphane Mallarmé–and contemporaries, among them Pierre Louis (later Louÿs) at the Ecole Alsacienne, and Valéry, whom he met in Montpellier in 1890. He contributed to little magazines and in 1891 published anonymously, at his expense, his début work, Les Cahiers d’André Walter (translated as The Notebooks of André Walter, 1968), an overblown first-person confessional narrative in diary form with many retrospective passages. Its purpose was to induce Madeleine Rondeaux to marry him; instead, it apparently frightened her, and she refused his proposal. Only a few copies were sold. Though marked by the influence of earlier works in French and German centered on introspective, idealistic, suffering heroes (usually artists), the récit shows originality in its individual voice, its sensitive style that registers nuances of feeling and conveys well affective experiences, and its compositional features, involving symmetry, contrast, and reflexivity. The given name André suggests identity between its hero and the author; Walter, from the German, echoes Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). The proximity of character to author is increased by the verbatim reproduction of entries drawn from Gide’s own diary. Moreover, Walter intends to write a book, “Allain,” and incorporates parts of it into his diary–just as Gide included in his notebooks material for future works. This récit offers the first of many instances in his fiction of a writer-character and a book-within-the-book, planned or partly realized. Each writer–Gide, Walter in his diary, Allain in his diary–is a double of the others. Walter’s book is to deal with the Angel and the Beast, or soul and flesh–which are the crux of Gide’s work also.
The book is in two parts, “Le Cahier blanc” (The White Notebook) and “Le Cahier noir” (The Black Notebook). In the first, Walter expresses love for his cousin Emmanuèle (the meaning of which is “God with us”) through idealistic reveries, evocations of music, quotations from German and French poets, and lyrical flights. This love is not a sensual one, however; he says that he fears wounding her by desire and aspires to a disembodied purity. In fact, he fears the senses: “Je ne te désire pas” (I do not desire you); he frantically flees women in the street as if they might pollute him. His mother, on her deathbed, has told him his love is “fraternal” and urged him to let Emmanuèle go so that she may marry “T.” Consenting to the separation, Walter resolves to drive her away, in order to deserve her all the more: love is proven by sacrifice. In the second part, Walter learns that Emmanuèle is dead. Desires assail him, but he considers all sensuality impure. He dreams of brown-skinned children bathing in the river, and of a woman–Emmanuéle–whose dress is lifted up by a monkey, revealing nothing but darkness. The notebooks close with Walter’s insanity and death of cerebral fever.
While Gide acknowledged later the adolescent excesses of the book, he allowed its reprinting. Its themes, motifs, and technical features established precedents for works to come. Not least of these precedents was the expression of profound personal dilemmas for either analysis or catharsis or both. Another was the use of fiction, through the dual narrative levels and an author-within-the-book, to explore the fictional process and reflect the play of the real versus the fictitious, creating what twentieth-century critics called metafiction. There is even an outer level: the notebooks are ostensibly presented (through a footnote creating a frame) by Walter’s friend, Pierre C., who is taken to be Pierre Chrysis, a pseudonym of Gide’s real friend Louÿs–for informed readers, a clue to the uncertain fictional status of the work. In his journal in 1893 Gide proposed the term la composition en abyme (“abyss” structure, or structure in depth) for the compositional device that reproduces a work within itself by miniaturized replication of its themes, motifs, story elements, or structural features, and thus creates reflexivity. This reflexivity may go beyond the fictional limits of the work to include external elements (such as the oblique introduction of Louÿs), in a confusion between what Gérard Genette called the diegesis, or diegetic level–the fictional plane– and the extradiegetic level, outside of the novel. While some of these techniques had been used variously in previous centuries, notably by Denis Diderot, it was Gide who gave them their modern currency, in advance of their subsequent widespread appearance in works by French New Novelists such as Michel Butor, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Claude Simon.
The same year, 1891, Gide published Le Traité du Narcisse (translated as Narcissus, 1953), dedicated to Valéry, who wrote several poems on the theme. The term traité, meaning treatise, suggests the philosophical character of this short prose work. Abandoning his overblown lyricism under the influence of Mallarmé, whose Tuesday gatherings he attended, and other symbolists, he adopted their aesthetic of refined, ethereal, sometimes hermetic images, chastized style, disdain of contingency, and aspirations toward the absolute. Though he eventually went beyond the symbolist view of literature, its demanding aesthetic remained a benchmark for him, and he honored Mallarmé as a master. The treatise served as an unofficial manifesto for the symbolist aesthetic. The choice of Narcissus–one of many occasions on which Gide turned to Gréek mythology–is representative of the inward-turning quality of symbolism as well as the author’s narcissism. Even the characteristic structural reflexivity, including the use of notebooks, can be considered an expression of narcissism.
The treatise begins with a restatement of the myth of Narcissus, who seeks to integrate appearance and being, form and idea–that is, the unity and perfection of self. It then moves to the story of Eden (treated as myth, not Holy Writ), in which original perfection is destroyed by a gesture, causing unity to disperse as multiplicity. Since then, man has yearned for the lost perfection, the union of world and idea, fleeting appearance and changeless being. (The influence of Platonism as well as of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Idea is visible here.) The poet strives to rediscover this union, using symbols to arrive at truths and essences. The poet, writes Gide, must manifest: “Nous vivons pour manifester” (We live in order to manifest), he had written in Les Cahiers d’André Walter. The verb became a motif and key to his artistic endeavors.
Another early work, La Tentative amoureuse, is a short “treatise” on love in the form of an understated tale. Its importance is thréefold–in plot, tone, and structure. Its story–Luc and Rachel’s failure to draw meaning from love or preserve it–reinforces Walter’s denial of normal sexuality and is psychologically revealing. Its tone has a new hint of irony, one of Gide’s primary modes later. Its structure illustrates again la composition en abyme, a term that he adopted in speaking of it.
Le Voyage d’Urien (translated as Urien’s Voyage, 1964) appeared in 1893 and achieved a small succès d’estime. Since the title may be rephrased as “Le Voyage du Rien”–the voyage of Nothing–the work may be said to bear an ironic qualification from the beginning. Nevertheless, it is a richly imaginative tale in which the travels are correlatives of spiritual experiences. It thus carried out the symbolist aesthetic, by which the real was valuable only as an opening onto the ideal. As Gide explained in the preface to the second edition, the landscapes and episodes are the visible equivalents of emotions that cannot be expressed or grasped otherwise. As in traditional quests, the travelers–sailors, in this case, but with chivalric features–must pass through ordeals and temptations, to which some of the party succumb. The first stage is the Pathetic Ocean, where various sensual trials await; the next is the Sargasso Sea, where the voyagers fall into stagnation and ennui; the final stage is the Glacial Sea, representing metaphysical sterility and what Gide calls, sarcastically, “joies théologiques” (theological joys). The few voyagers who escape temptation are not rewarded by the ideal; rather, they find, on the frozen wasteland, only nothingness–a man encased in ice and holding a blank paper.
Mallarmé expressed his relief at learning that Gide’s book was not the account of a real voyage, but a parable. Gide’s envoi (a sort of postface in verse) to the book makes that clear: “Madame . . . nous n’avons pas fait ce voyage. . . . Ce voyage n’est que mon rêve, / nous ne sommes jamais sortis / de la chambre de nos pensèes” (Madam, we did not make this voyage. . . . This voyage is only my dream, / we have never left / the room of our thoughts). Replete with features of the most excessive symbolists and decadent writers such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, the tale could read like the symbolist novel par excellence. But it was also a sabotaging of symbolism. Cordle has suggested that the white sheet of paper stands for Mallarmé, whose obsession with blank pages and fascination with abstraction were attested, and mention of a “swan-killing knife” may be an aggressive allusion to him also, since “Le Cygne” (1885, The Swan) was one of Mallarmé’s best-known poems. Moreover, beneath the self-consciously literary and philosophic parable lies another level, expressed in abundant sexual images and episodes of carnality involving predatory (and diseased) women. Then there is the sketchy female character “Ellis,” the “false”–a momentary temptation– and the “true,” who is encountered in the polar snows; the latter ascends into heaven in a wedding gown, expressing plainly the impossibility of pure love on earth. Normal sexuality, whether with a temptress or a cherished figure, is excluded.
All Gide’s publications through 1893 suggested failure, whether metaphysical (an unreachable, perhaps false ideal) or personal (impossible love, madness, quest ending in nothing). A developing vein of irony indicated, however, personal evolution; and his artistic skills were amply demonstrated. In October 1894 he left for North Africa, accompanying a friend who had won a traveling fellowship. He did not take his Bible, though he later asked his mother to send it. This journey, the first of many to Algeria and Tunisia, was a watershed in his life. (He later traveled widely elsewhere also.) He began by falling ill of pulmonary infection, probably tuberculosis; the episodes in L’Immoraliste concerning the hero’s illness are considered a transposition of the author’s experience. Having recovered, he was eager for sensations and discoveries. The foreign setting, in which he was surrounded by a subjected people (indigenous Arabs), favored his experimentation. He discarded his inhibitions, broke the Calvinist taboos, and discovered– or admitted to himself–his homosexual desires, of which his early writings bore unmistakable traces. In Si le grain ne meurt, the 1893 episode during which he makes love to a small boy on a dune comes late in the account of his boyhood and youth but is the key discovery to which earlier parts are a prelude.
As he wrote in Si le grain ne meurt, he had laid the foundation for a lifetime personal ethic, “un idéal d’équilibre, de plénitude et de santé” (an ideal of balance, fullness, and health). Oscillation between belief and nonbelief characterized him for many years, but he subscribed no longer to any doctrinaire Christianity and disliked all organized religion. A solution to his theological dilemma was to deny the validity of all proscriptions based on the Bible and fashion a new image of Christ–a vagabond, a fréethinking rebel who promised heaven here and now and denied validity to the law in the name of love. Gide long retained, however, the sense of sin imparted to him by his upbringing. ‘Je ne suis qu’un petit garçon qui s’amuse, doublé d’un pasteur protestant qui le regarde” (I am just a little boy having fun, doubled by a Protestant pastor watching him), he wrote in his journal in 1907.
Like Protestantism when he was a child, homosexuality set him apart from others; in his new selfconsciousness, he was doubly an outsider. He insisted always that he was not a sodomist but a pederast, drawn to boys and adolescents. While he did not announce his sexual anomaly until the 1920s, it continued to appear obliquely in many works, and the desire to “manifest” himself consisted largely, though not wholly, in revealing and justifying his sexuality. (He could not live without such autojustification.) He assigned great importance, both personal and social, to the confessional function of Si le grain ne meurt and other works and to his case as exemplary. Certain early critics, hesitant to speak of sexual matters, glossed over intimations of his behavior to the degrée possible, or, if hostile, seized upon the suggestions and ultimate confirmation of his pederasty to condemn him as immoral. In contrast, critics of the last decades of the twentieth century and of the twenty-first have shown great interest in Gide’s sexual history and its reflection in his work, and many erroneously make sexuality the overriding concern of his entire caréer.
After returning from North Africa in spring 1894, Gide resumed his literary contacts among the symbolist circles, which stifled him and, by their denial of vitality, gave him, he wrote, a feeling of “estrangement.” In the autumn he spent some months in a Swiss village, La Brévine, where he composed Paludes (1895; translated as Marshlands, 1953). He later gave to this work the generic label sotie (foolishness), from the name of a type of medieval farce. In a prefatory note, he calls it “cette satire de quoi?” (this satire of what?). An obvious target is the claustrophobic Paris salons; another is a writer who much resembles himself. To carry out this satire, Gide makes clever use of the en abyme structure. The main character, a would-be writer, is at work on a book to be called “Paludes,” which will be “l’histoire de qui ne peut pas voyager” (the story of one who cannot travel). He kéeps a diary, constituting the text, portraying his mostly valetudinarian friends and recording his modest activities and accomplishments. In the diary are incorporated notes for the “Journal de Tityre, ou Paludes,” his work-in-progress; Tityre, he says, is himself. He has a jejune woman friend, Angéle. Her name recalls what French critics call the angélisme (disposition or aspiration to act as a pure spirit) of Les Cahiers d André Walter, while her tone, slightly whimsical and also critical, resembles that of the false Ellis. The name Angéle also appears in Gide’s Lettres à Angèle, 1898–1899 (1900), a collection of short pieces that appeared separately during the 1890s. While Angèle cannot be considered simply a projection of Madeleine Rondeaux, she is not entirely divorced from her either. One event of the otherwise colorless plot, which suggests the boredom of Paris literary life, is a duck hunt (with sexual innuendoes), recounted in Angéle’s salon; another is a trip to the suburbs. After a week, no progress has been made on the book. The hero sits down instead to begin a new project, “Polders” (unclaimed marshlands).
This circular construction, indicating repetition without progress, contrasts with the actual book, which Gide did finish. Other features call attention to the arbitrariness of any narrative and explicitly invite confusion between the diegetic and extradiegetic levels. An opening note invites readers to explain the book to the “author,” that is, an authorial persona, noting that a book is always a collaboration. (Gide thus anticipates “reader reception criticism” by many years.) An envoi in verse is followed by an “Alternative” in prose, then by the “Table des phrases les plus remarquables de Paludes” (Table of the Most Remarkable Sentences in Paludes), which includes two sentences (one concerned with carrying out the ideas the other one raises) and then invites the reader to fill in the rest of the page.
In january 1895 Gide returned to Algiers, where he encountered Wilde. Although Wilde rather frightened him, he helped Gide affirm his homosexuality, in part by introducing him to homosexual brothels. Gide’s family, while ignorant of his precise conduct, was nevertheless uneasy. Shortly after his mother’s death in May 1895, Madeleine Rondeaux agreed to marry him; his mother had expressed her desire that they wed, and his uncle Charles Gide was among those who considered the marriage a precautionary move. The wedding took place in October of that year. The couple spent a lengthy honeymoon in Switzerland, Italy, and North Africa. The marriage remained unconsummated. Personal writings by Gide and others’ testimony indicate that despite the devotion of each to the other, it was an unhappy arrangement; evidence suggests that Madeleine Gide became aware early of her husband’s proclivities. Although they traveled together early in their marriage, subsequently they often lived apart in unacknowledged half-estrangement, he traveling or in Paris, she at their estate in Normandy, Cuverville.
In 1897 Gide published Les Nourritures terrestres, an eight-part work, chiefly lyrical and hortatory, with interspersed narrative elements. It sold so few copies that booksellers were said to beg for buyers; but it gradually acquired readers and became a favorite of discerning young people, especially after World War I. Novelist Roger Martin du Gard had his young hero Jacques Thibault discover the book and thereby see life in an entirely new light. The work was inspired in considerable part by the author’s experiences in North Africa, reflected in scenery and motifs. Normandy also serves as a setting, however. The speaker is often an anonymous Gide-like character who sometimes addresses a young disciple, Nathanaël. Another speaker is Ménalque, who serves as an older model; the name is from Virgil, whose works, along with those of Goethe, were influential on Gide. Certain phrases from Les Nourritures terrestres are so often quoted that they have become clichés among educated French.
The work is a call to emancipation and cultivation of the self. First, one must reject impediments to self-development, such as rules and the very idea of sin. “Nathanaël, je ne crois plus au péché” (Nathanaël, I no longer believe in sin); “Commandements de Dieu, vous avez endolori mon âme” (Commandments of God, you have made my soul sorrowful). A vague, lyrical pantheism must replace orthodox Christian belief: “Ne souhaite pas, Nathanaël, trouver Dieu ailleurs que partout” (Do not wish, Nathanaël, to find God elsewhere than everywhere). Social structures also must be rejected: “Families, je vous hais!” (Families, I hate you!). Bookish learning is to be replaced by sensation: “II ne me suffit pas de lire que les sables des plages sont doux; je veux que mes pieds nus le sentent” (It is not enough for me to read that the sands along the beach are soft; I want my bare féet to féel it). Desire, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled, is the key to ferveur (fervor), Gide’s new watchword, the measure of the soul’s authenticity. “L’image de la vie, ah! Nathanaël, est pour moi: un fruit plein de saveur sur des lèvres pleines de dèsir” (The image of life, ah! Nathanaël, is for me: a fruit full of savor on lips full of desire). The listener or reader must cultivate his own individuality: ‘Jette mon livre” (Throw away my book); then he can follow the final precept: “Crée de toi . . . le plus irremplacable des êtres” (Create from yourself . . . the most irreplaceable of beings).
Gide then turned to drama. He viewed the theater as “le lieu de caractères” (the place of characters), where individual truths are pretexts for generalization. In his view, Christianity discouraged characters–strong individual personalities–and no entirely Christian théâter could exist. His dramatic corpus relies on Gréek and biblical material, both treated fréely. Critic Paul Surer asserted in his Cinquante ans de theatre (1969, Fifty Years of Theater) that Gide was “le premier à deviner le parti qu’un dramaturge pouvait tirer des légendes bibliques ou des fictions antiques pour exprimer son éthique per-sonnelle ou des préoccupations toutes modernes” (the first to perceive the advantage that a playwright could draw from biblical legends or ancient tales to express his personal ethic or quite modern concerns). Gide’s plays illustrate especially well the rich potential of mythology for modern applications. But for decades he barely had a theatrical public.
Saül (translated, 1952) was finished in 1898, published in 1903, then produced by Jacques Copeau (who had the title role) at the Vieux-Colombier in 1922. According to Martin du Gard, it was one of Gide’s best works. Based on material from I Samuel 17, 18, and 28, the five-act drama depicts King Saul’s undoing, politically and personally. It was a warning, said Gide, against the hedonism and self-indulgence to which Les Nourritures terrestres invited readers. Such swings between renunciation and self-gratification are characteristic of Gide’s works and often his behavior. The premier was, in Gide’s own words, “un four” (a flop). Attendance was good throughout the run, but reviews less so. As a psychological drama involving an unknown self, the play is modern, despite the biblical basis. (Gide had encountered writings by Friedrich Nietzsche in the 1890s and was drawn to, or had developed independently, elements of their ethics.) Saül exclaims: “Je deviens très ètonnant!–Ma valeur est dans ma complication” (I am becoming very astonishing!–My value lies in my complexity).
Saül is a deranged personality struggling for self-knowledge and self-control, torn between strength and weakness. He is beset by demons–actual actors–representing his temptations and weaknesses. “Tout ce qui t’est charmant t’est hostile” (Everything that is charming to you is hostile to you), says the pythoness of Endor. He tries to cultivate his will; instead, it disintegrates. His self-ignorance makes him vulnerable: “Us veulent savoir mon secret et je ne le sais pas moi-même!” (They want to know my secret and I don’t know it myself!). As the Philistines besiege the kingdom, Saül, having exterminated the soothsayers, has attempted vainly to read the stars. The quéen and others try to manipulate him by introducing as their spy the handsome shepherd David, who shortly kills Goliath. When David befriends Jonathan, the king’s weak son, the king féels jealousy. Saül is obviously fascinated with David, and the love between David and Jonathan, while never explicitly sexual, does suggest homoerotic attraction. The homosexual suggestions have often been noted; according to Martin du Gard’s Journal (1992–1993), his friend Pierre Margaritis wrote that despite his admiration, he was bothered by the “côté pédéraste” (pederastic side). Demons, having assumed attractive forms, settle in Saül’s tent. He asks: “Avec quoi l’homme se consolera-t-il d’une déchéance? sinon avec ce qui l’a déchu” (With what will a man be consoled after a downfall? if not with what brought him down). The political solution comes when David replaces Saül as king; the personal solution is Saül’s death at the hands of a treacherous courtier.
Philoctète (1899; translated as Philoctetes, 1952), a subject treated also by Sophocles, was, according to Gide’s prefatory note, a moral treatise, not intended for presentation. It has been staged, however. With its elevated tone, long Speeches, simple plot involving a moral dilemma, and few actors, this short five-act work resembles French classical dramas inspired by Gréek models. The play includes themes typical of Gide’s work: competing rights and duties; the individual; and, chiefly, self-discipline and self-sacrifice. Philoctète, bitten by a serpent and suffering a stinking wound, has been abandoned on a frozen, deserted island by his compatriots, armed only with his bow and arrows (a legacy from Heracles). The gods having decréed that those weapons alone can prevail against the Trojans, Ulysse and young Néoptolème, Achilles’ son, have been sent to wrest them from Philoctète by ruse. Néoptolème protests against the use of treachery toward his father’s friend; Ulysse argues that reasons of state outweigh and must prevail over individual rights and ethics, following divine will. But Philoctète observes: “Au-dessus des dieux . . . il y a quelque chose” (Above the gods . . . there is something else). The problem is identifying the higher good. In the end, trickery is not necessary: Philoctète surrenders the bow and arrows willingly, through devotion to something he cannot name–an internal rather than external imperative. “Ce que l’on entreprend au-dessus de ses forces . . . voilé ce qu’on appelle vertu” (What one undertakes beyond one’s strength . . . that’s what is called virtue).
The second of the farcical narratives that Gide later labeled soties appeared in 1899 under the title Le Prométhée mal enchaîné. Though short, it is important as well as original. While it includes the story of Prometheus, the myth is just a kernel of the story. Like Paludes, it is characterized by what the author called le saugrenu–atype of absurdity involving incongruity and bizarre humor. Like all of Gide’s saugrenu and irony, it is pointed. Prométhée kills the eagle who ate his liver–a clear rejection of the idea of punishment, and thus of morality. The work is connected intertextually to Paludes by its character Tityre, who appears in both works in a story-within-the-story. Moreover, it similarly calls attention to itself as fiction when, at the end, Prométhée, having eaten his dead eagle, announces he used one of its feathers to write the book that the reader has just finished, thereby confusing diegetic and extradiegetic planes. A brief epilogue reinforces this element of metafiction by denying authorial omnipotence: “Pour tàcher de faire croire au lecteur que si ce livre est tel ce n’est pas la faute de l’auteur” (To try to make the reader believe that if this book is such as it is, it isn’t the author’s fault). Just as important, the work is the first introduction into Gide’s work of the important concept and plot resource he called l’acte gratuit, or gratuitous act–an arbitrary déed that sets in motion an unpredictable chain of consequences. Gide treats it as an illustration of human fréedom, which allows man to go beyond the néeded, the predictable, and to invent behavior.
Le Roi Candaule (translated as King Candaules, 1952), published in 1901, was first produced that year by Aurelien Lugné-Poe, who resisted realist modes in favor of poetic drama. The play, in thrée acts and frée verse, closed after its first performance; the few laudatory reviews were offset by several attacks. Greatly disappointed, Gide indicted his contemporaries by observing that drama can flourish only in the absence of public hypocrisy. The story of Le Roi Candaule has a basis in both fact and fable. Sources include the Clio of Herodotus and Plato’s Republic. In Gide’s version, the emphasis is on character and motivation, not the marvelous. The historical character Gygès was king of Lydia in the seventh century B.C. According to Plato, Gygès, a humble shepherd in the royal service, discovered a ring with the power to make its wearer invisible. Armed with the ring, he slipped into the palace of King Candaules, seduced the quéen and murdered Candaules, then acceded to the throne and married the quéen. Herodotus, in contrast, presents Gygès as a trusted member of the king’s bodyguard. The king, having often praised his wife’s beauty to Gyges, finally had him observe her in her bedchamber; for this betrayal, she compelled Gyges to kill Candaules and take the throne. His assumption of power was justified after the fact by the Delphic oracle.
Like Saül, Le Roi Candaule illustrates self-destruction. Candaule’s excessive and misplaced generosity amounts to manipulating and experimenting with others. He seeks to dazzle those around him, including Gygès, a poor fisherman, with his wealth and happiness, then to impose them, on the pretext that privileges are not complete unless shared. (The theme of voluntary divestiture, intended to create greater fréedom and enjoyment, appears also in Les Nourritures terrestres and L’Immoraliste. Gide himself displayed contradictory impulses with respect to wealth, oscillating between acquisition and divestiture, thrift and expenditure.) Such imposition is a means of controlling others; the king’s annoyance when his gifts are not thoroughly appreciated shows that his generosity is really directed toward himself.
His scheme to have Gygès observe Quéen Nyssia’s beauty by becoming invisible succéeds: Gygès observes her, unseen, then shares her bed without disclosing his identity. When Nyssia tells Candaule that it was their greatest night of love, he is shaken; his gift has turned back on him. Gide is less interested, however, in Candaule’s sexual discomfiture than in questions of power and conduct. Learning how her husband betrayed her, Nyssia, as in the legend, compels Gygès to kill him. He then assumes the throne and obliges the quéen, who has removed her veils, since modesty was mocked, to replace them. Power under his reign will be exercised directly, not through mediation. Contemporary and later readings of the play as a socialist manifesto conflict with Gide’s aesthetics.
In 1902 Gide published his récit or short novel L’Immoraliste, one of his best narrative works, admired for its style, composition, narrative technique, and psychology, including absence of self-knowledge, or obtuseness. Gide’s genius for pithy observations and litotes (condensed sayings or understatements) is well illustrated throughout: for example, “Envier le bonheur d’autrui, c’est folie: on ne saurait pas s’en servir” (To envy others’ happiness is folly; one wouldn’t know what to do with it). Michel, the protagonist-narrator, an early example of the modern unreliable narrator, tells his story, without commentary, to thrée friends he has summoned (an echo of Job’s listeners). This narrative is framed within an outer one, consisting of a letter written by one of the listeners and including Michel’s account so that the addressee, a high government official, may take his case under consideration. The outer narrator’s voice is heard again at the close of Michel’s account. It may be assumed that the protagonist’s retrospective version is self-serving, although not crudely so; he can be self-critical. But what is not said plays a role along with what is expressed. The listeners, and readers, must draw their own conclusions.
Largely based on Gide’s own experiences, the story nevertheless departs from them significantly. It may be viewed as an example of the bourgeon or “bud” theory and an occasion for catharsis, since, as the author later noted, Michel errs by carrying too far the hedonism and emancipation praised in Les Nourritures terrestres. While Michel’s demons are entirely psychological, unlike the projected demons in Saül, the resulting self-destruction is identical. The novel is an early-twentieth-century lesson in the dangers of fréedom: “Savoir se liberer n’est rien; l’ardu, c’est savoir être libre” (To be able to liberate oneself is nothing; the difficult part is to know how to be frée).
In part 1, Michel, a bookish young Protestant scholar, marries at his father’s wish. He and his wife, Marceline, travel to Algeria for their honeymoon. He falls ill of pulmonary disease; she helps nurse him back to health. As his strength increases, he ventures out alone and méets Arab boys, whom he befriends. Their health, rawness, and amorality appeal to him; when he observes one stealing Marceline’s scissors, he is strangely fascinated. He abandons his ethics of high culture, work, and traditional beliefs, all directed either to past or future, for values he does not quite fathom, based in the present, presupposing fréedom and involving pleasure and self-cultivation. The couple returns to Europe via Italy. After a struggle with a disorderly and presumably drunken coachman, Michel makes love to his wife for the first time.
Part 2 takes place in Normandy, on La Morinière, an estate modeled on Gide’s property La Roque-Baignard, which he sold in 1900. Michel has embarked on a program of self-development and scientific exploitation of his property, following a new ethic of economy, directed toward maximizing resources. Marceline is pregnant. Michel is fascinated by a young man, the son of his overseer. He spends some time in Paris also, lecturing and visiting salons, where he runs into Ménalque. The latter is no longer the underdeveloped Virgilian figure of Les Nourritures terrestres, expressing himself lyrically, but a semiplausible modern character, based in part on Wilde. Ménalque does not seek disciples; rather, he listens, asks questions, and lets his interlocutors make discoveries in themselves. He draws Michel’s attention to his desire to go beyond ordinary ethics to identify a “new man.” (Gide makes use of the biblical distinction between the “old man” of the law, before grace, and the “new man” of salvation.) Ménalque suggests that his friend’s lectures, property, and wife conflict with unfettered self-exploration. One night, while Michel is with Ménalque, Marceline has a miscarriage. Back in Normandy, Michel, greatly changed, takes up with the coarsest of his neighbors. He listens to tales of incest; learns with indifference, even curiosity, that his own staff robs him; and even poaches on his own property while paying his overseer to discover poachers’ traps. In a fit of exasperation, or desire to divest himself of impediments to a new life, he sells La Morinière.
In part 3, the couple leaves again for Italy and Algeria. Marceline is ill; Michel must care for her. He professes the déepest love for her, but his actions belie his concern: he makes her move frequently, prowls around the port in Syracuse seeking adventure, and shows impatience with her: “J’ai cherché, j’ai trouvé ce qui fait ma valeur: une espéce d’entêtement dans le pire” (I have sought, I have found the source of my value: a kind of persistence in the worst). She becomes so fragile that the scent of almond flowers makes her ill. After her death he summons his friends, admitting that “je ne sais plus le dieu ténébreux que je sers” (I no longer know what dark god I serve). He asks his friends to tear him away: “Je souffre de cette liberté sans emploi” (I suffer from this fréedom without use). What he néeds, he says, is something to prove he has not gone beyond his right. The ending illustrates a major twentieth-century problem, that of individual fréedom and its use. No solution is offered. There is also a final suggestion of pederastic desire. Albert Guerard is one critic among many who have seen in Michel an unaware homosexual; Gide admitted the validity of the interpretation. But the rècit is less concerned with any sexual problem than with the existential questions of freedom and the foundation of values.
Gide’s acquaintance with Claudel dated from the 1890s, when they met in Paris. The two began corresponding in 1899, while Claudel was in China. In 1905 Claudel returned to France on leave; Gide read his ode “Les Muses” (The Muses) and met with him. Gide was, at the time, in low spirits. Les Nourritures terrestres, Saul, and Le Roi Candaule had been popular failures; L’Immoraliste had sold few copies. He was respected in the most discriminating literary circles, but he had not achieved significant success. His inspiration may have fallen; apart from a collection of critical articles and a few other pages, he wrote nothing new for five years. His sixth journey to North Africa (Algeria and Tunisia) in 1903 did not break his writer’s paralysis. In 1904 he wrote in his journal: “Depuis le 25 octobre 1901, jour oúj’achev-ais L’Immoraliste, je n’ai plus sérieusement travaillé. . . . Un morne engourdissement de l’esprit me fait végéter depuis trois ans” (For thrée years, since 25 October 1901, the day when I finished L’Lmmoraliste, I have not worked seriously. . . . A gloomy deadening of the mind has made me vegetate).
Moreover, his personal life was not calm. The pursuit of boys, in which he engaged with his friend Henri Ghéon, a physician and writer whom he had met in 1897, made dissimulation with Madeleine Gide and others necessary and brought frustration as well as satisfaction. The liaison in which the two engaged in 1905 with Maurice Schlumberger, the younger brother of novelist Jean Schlumberger, brought further drama into Gide’s life. Claudel, sensing a disturbed man, seized upon the opportunity to attempt to convert Gide to Roman Catholicism. Gide’s ability to share others’ féelings– which he called sympathy in its full sense–made him receptive to Claudel’s initiatives. Shortly, however, he realized that he had ventured too far: though he had listened and even appeared ripe for conversion, in fact he could not seriously entertain the possibility.
A short work of 1907, Le Retour de I’enfant prodigue (translated as The Return of the Prodigal, 1953), was, by the author’s admission, a reply to Claudel’s conversion attempts. It consists almost entirely of dialogue but was not conceived as drama, though occasionally it has been brought to the stage. It treats the biblical material freely and idiosyncratically, but with respect, and is another statement of Gide’s predilection for a frée-thinking, rather vagabond Christ figure. Following Gide’s conviction that institutions have distorted Christ’s message, the parable becomes an indictment of the Roman Catholic Church, the “house” to which the prodigal son, weakened by hardship, returns. While the mother receives him with love and forgiveness, and the father with understanding, the elder brother, with his pretension to exclusive truth, speaks harshly. “Hors la Maison, point de salut pour toi” (Outside the house, there is no salvation for you) is his formula. Gide develops the parable further by adding a younger brother, who idolizes the prodigal and will imitate him. While others denounce the ethic of fréedom, discovery, self-development, and what Gide called vagabondage, the boy’s imminent departure signals their validity. As the boy leaves, the prodigal holds the lamp–his legacy of illumination. Despite this transparent statement, Claudel continued well into 1914 to urge Gide to convert.
In 1909 Gide helped found the préeminent literary monthly in twentieth-century France, La Nouvelle Revue Française (NRF), where for decades he was an important behind-the-scenes figure. In that year he published La Porte étroite (translated as Strait Ls the Gate, 1924), another autobiographical narrative. The title refers to the narrow gate through which one must pass to be saved and thus underlines the difficulty of salvation. Claudel, writing to Gide, called it a very Protestant book. Gide stated that, like L’lmmoraliste, it illustrated the dangers of extreme behavior–in this case, asceticism; the two works are antidotes to each other. Its structure and tone have been greatly admired, although some readers have found the protagonist’s character irritating. The story is told by Jérôme, a passive young man, in love with his cousin, Alissa. It includes long passages from her letters and fragments of her diary.
The two share tastes in literature and music and are similarly pious, but there is no passion. Both fear intimate contacts, even hand-holding. Alissa, who calls sanctity an “obligation,” places obstacles in the way of their marriage, though without refusing Jérôme’s suit explicitly, and places before him what amount to tests of character and endurance. She denies the validity of happiness, foreign to the human soul; “nous ne sommes pasnés pour le bonheur” (we are not born for happiness). For herself, she makes “une vertu de la résistance” (a virtue out of resistance), and imposes this ethic upon him by what he calls a “piège de la vertu” (trap of virtue). By a bargain she imposes, he must cease seeing her and leave without protest on the evening when she will no longer wear the amethyst cross he has given her. He respects the agréement. On a subsequent visit, he finds that, pushing her renunciation ever farther, she has given up what she likes the most and also become a shadow of herself. When Jérôme protests, she accuses him of loving only an image of the past; she even blames him for having made her dream of love so lofty it could not be satisfied in this world. After Alissa’s death, alone in a hospice, he reads some of her diary, and learns both of her wavering faith and her tardy (and questionable) admission to herself that he would have had to make only a gesture to overcome her denial of the flesh. The use of diary excerpts to offer correcting viewpoints on another’s version of events later became an important technique for Gide.
In 1911 Gide published anonymously and clandestinely, in twelve copies and under the title C.R.D.N., an apology for homosexuality, which in 1920 appeared under its full title, Corydon. Mass circulation and indication of authorship were out of the question in the moral climate prior to World War I. Gide was concerned, furthermore, about his wife; though she generally read his manuscripts, and he shared with her much of his intellectual and personal life, he wished for his darker side to remain concealed. The arguments by which he attempted to justify homosexual practice were drawn from both nature and history. That same year his récit called Isabelle was published. It is a frame narrative in which a first narrator, speaking as Gide, listens, with his friend the poet Francis Jammes, to an account given by a second narrator. The story, somewhat melodramatic, is more removed from Gide’s life than the two previous rèdts and other earlier work; in that respect it constitutes progress toward less outwardly personal writing. It involves elements of mystery and romantic idealization, which is deflated by reality and mocked by the narrative devices; its critical dimension is thus integral to the structure.
Gide then embarked on his second longest narrative, titled Les Caves du Vatican (1914; translated as The Vatican Swindle, 1925). It reintroduced into early twentieth-century French fiction, which was excessively psychological, elements of what Jacques Rivière called the adventure novel, and it occupies an important place as a kind of rehearsal for Les Faux-Monnayeurs. The label sotie, which it bore (and which Gide then applied retrospectively to earlier works), is particularly apt because the medieval farce by that name mocked religious ceremonies. The work was originally conceived in 1893, the year in which the action takes place. Gide had chosen originally as an epigraph a quotation from Claudel’s L’Annmce faite à Marie (1912; translated as The Tidings Brought to Mary, 1916). When, in 1913, Claudel discovered the title of the forthcoming work, he asked Gide to remove the epigraph; Gide complied. When Claudel read an excerpt in the NRF, he was shocked by a slightly scabrous passage and asked Gide not only to delete the offending lines but to repent of his sins. Gide refused to alter his text. The entire work was highly offensive to pious Catholics. Like earlier writings, it did not find its audience immediately; but in the 1920s its young hero and apparent amorality began to appeal to restless, rebellious youth, primed by Dada and Surrealism.
This five-part work has a complex structure, large cast of characters, and multiple plots and themes. It belies accusations that Gide had weak inventive powers. The tone ranges from the humorous, farcical, and burlesque to the mock-serious and, occasionally, the serious, grave, or tender. Unlike Gide’s earlier narratives, it has no first-person narrator, though there are ironic authorial interventions that create distance between author and work, yet invite confusion between diegetic and extradiegetic planes. The following phrase illustrates the technique: “Lafcadio, mon ami, vous donnez dans un fait divers et ma plume vous abandonne” (Lafcadio, my friend, you’re getting into the anecdotal and my pen is abandoning you). Elsewhere, the authorial voice denies its omniscience: ‘Je ne sais trop que penser de Carola Venitequa” (I don’t quite know what to think of Carola Venitequa). The characters are often caricatures, befitting the burlesque tone and mockery of the book. Among the themes are belief and superstition; the Church as an institution; scientific knowledge and its reductionism; pompous, academic literature; social classes and manners; the individual versus society; illegitimacy (already appearing in Isabelle and an important theme later); sincerity; morality and responsibility; human potentiality; and the gratuitous act. Some are connected to the larger theme of being versus appear ances, true versus false, or to that of fréedom, or what the young hero, Lafcadio Wluiki, calls “la libre disposition de soi-même” (the frée disposition of oneself).
The principal plotline, to which others are connected–Lafcadio uses the word “un carrefour” (an intersection)–concerns a swindle by which pious and wealthy Catholics, duped into believing that the pope has been kidnapped from his throne, imprisoned in the Vatican cellars, and replaced by an impostor, pay large sums to obtain his release. (The “caves” of the title are the cellars, but the word is also slang for “dupes.”) A subplot involves a crusade to Rome undertaken by Amédée Fleurissoire, a naive provincial, in the hope of fréeing the Holy Father. His good faith is repeatedly tried and mocked, and his absurd quest is undermined as he is tormented by bedbugs, lice, and mosquitoes. He falls into the clutches of Carola, a prostitute of the “heart of gold” variety, and finally dies absurdly when Lafcadio, a fellow-passenger in a moving train, pushes him out as a sort of game with fate–the best-known example of Gide’s gratuitous act. Another plotline turns on the recognition by Lafcadio that he is the illegitimate son of old Juste-Agénor de Baraglioul and thus the brother of an eminent writer.
The theme of responsibility is carried out in multiple ways. “Si seulement on pouvait être certain que cela ne tire pas à conséquence” (If only one could be certain that it would be of no consequence), says the disguised Protos, an agent of “Mille-pattes” (Millipede), the gang of swindlers. No fréedom is limitless or unconditional; even criminals operate by rules. The brief liaison of Juste-Agénor with Lafcadio’s mother produced Lafcadio; his gratuitous act has unseen consequences that could be disastrous, were it not for Protos, who for his own reasons touches up the crime. In a trick of fate, Protos is misidentified as Amèdèe’s killer after he strangles Carola and is captured. Lafcadio, who makes demands on himself, like Stendhal’s hero Julien Sorel (a model) in Le Rouge et le noir (1830; translated as Red and Black, 1898), thinks of turning himself in, but the book ends on a question mark–an open ending, suiting the theme of fréedom.
Gide wrote little during World War I. For some months, he worked for a charitable organization, the Foyer Franco-Beige, which cared for refugées. In 1916 he underwent a crisis, reflected in diary pages published as Numquid et tu . . .? (1922; translated in The Journals of André Gide, 1947–1951). The somber atmosphere of the war played a role in his despondency, but it was inspired mainly by déep moral distress, concern over his excessive sexual desires, rereading of Scripture, and spiritual anguish. His distress was so great that he expressed the fear of being possessed by the devil. His position was that, whether the demon was merely a metaphor for his own weakness or a real presence, his power was real. This interlude was his last period of profound religious féeling; his position thenceforth evolved toward a serene atheism. He continued, however, to honor the figure of Christ. In 1917 Gide became sentimentally and sexually involved with Marc Allégret, the son of a longtime family friend, pastor Elie Allégret. His outlook changed dramatically. In summer 1918 he left to spend thrée months in England with his young protégé and lover. The long-suffering Madeleine Gide realized what this trip signified. During his absence she burned, in an act of revenge and finality, Gide’s lengthy correspondence with her, which he later described as the best of his writing.
The event wounded Gide déeply and led to an open estrangement between them that lasted for many years. The separation gave him new fréedom. He established a close (though nonsexual) relationship with Maria (Madame Théo) van Rysselberghe, a friend of long standing; their daily lives were closely intertwined, and for nearly a quarter century they resided in adjoining flats in Paris. From 1918 on she kept a detailed diary (published as Les Cahiers de la Petite Dame, 1973–1977, The Notebooks of the “Little Lady”) recording his conversations and activities. It is an invaluable source of information on him and his friends, including Martin du Gard and André Malraux.
As early as 1893 Gide had planned to write about a blind girl. Long delayed, the project came to fruition as La Symphonie pastorale (1919; translated as The Pastoral Symphony, 1931). Close in structure and narrative technique to the earlier recits, it is admired for its style. The narrator is a Protestant pastor; the pastoral motif is carried out also by the biblical parable of the lost shéep, mentions of Ludwig van Béethoven’s Sixth Symphony, and the setting–a Swiss village and surrounding countryside. The other principal character is Gertrude, a blind girl whom the pastor has rescued and with whom he falls in love, thereby wounding his wife déeply. The entire text consists of the pastor’s diary, first retrospective, then approximating by time of composition the events related, finally virtually simultaneous with events. Gide skillfully uses the diary in such a way that the pastor, another unreliable or “blind” narrator, both deceives himself and yet relates what readers must know to not only follow the story but also understand its implications before the pastor does. It is less a question of hypocrisy than of déep and skillful self-deception. Discussions between the pastor and his son Jacques about the epistles of St. Paul set forth Gide’s own ideas; the pastor accuses St. Paul of distorting the Christian message, whereas Jacques sees how his father’s frée-thinking interpretations of Scripture have led him into error. Like L’Immoraliste and La Porte etroite, the short novel ends in the heroine’s death; moral blindness leads to tragedy.
The original two volumes of Si le grain ne meurt appeared in 1920 and 1921. While its style, composition, and portraits are masterly, its frank statement of Gide’s homosexuality, along with the trade edition of Corydon, made him notorious. But by 1921 he occupied such an important position on the literary landscape that he could not be ignored. The difference in reception of his works and perception of his importance between the years around 1900 and the 1920s reflects changes in French mores but, even more, demonstrates how his work had, finally, “invented” his public, both admirers and a broad circle of enemies. His acknowledged importance was such that in 1921 Gallimard published, with the epigraph “Les extrêmes me touchent” (Extremes touch me), his Morceaux choisis (Selected Pieces), a small-format anthology of pages he déemed among his best or most important; another publisher brought out that year a selection of excerpts called simply André Gide (sometimes referred to as Pages choisies).A 1923 book on Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose novels Gide admired greatly, and a 1924 collection of critical pieces called Incidences, added to Gide’s stature. In 1924 critic André Rouveyre called him “le contemporain capital” (the crucial contemporary). The same year critic Henri Béraud made Gide his chief target in his La Croisade des longues figures (The Crusade of the Long Faces), attacking him for the so-called unhealthiness of his work and his domination of the writers associated with the NRF.
In 1923 Maria van Rysselberghe’s daughter, Elisabeth, gave birth to Gide’s child, named Catherine. The child was chiefly a pedagogical and feminist experiment; there was friendship between Gide and the emancipated Elisabeth but no passion. Madeleine Gide was told of the birth but not the parentage; it Seems likely that she divined he was the father. Gide now had, even more clearly than before, two homes and families, as it were, one with Madeleine and their many nieces and nephews in Normandy, the other in the fréethinking van Ryssel-berghe circle in Paris or at their property in the south of France. The irony of this arrangement on the part of someone who had written “Families, je vous hais” has not gone unobserved. His tendency toward contradiction, opposition, and self-dialogue was well illustrated, and well served, in this divided private life.
Les Faux-Monnayeurs, which Gide called his only novel (contrasted with the récits and soties), begun in 1919 and finished in 1925, was, he said, the first work that was not, in some way, written for Madeleine Gide. A complex, vivid, multithemed work with several subplots, it is Gide’s most developed illustration of la composition en abyme and other features of metafiction. Again, he demonstrated his inventiveness. Originally, its young hero Bernard, a bastard, was named Lafcadio, making clear the organic connection with the 1914 sotie. Gide consulted on the novel with Martin du Gard, to whom it is dedicated. Concurrently to its composition, he kept a “diary” of the novel, Journal des Faux-Monnayeurs (1926; translated as Logbook of the Coiners, 1952), in which he introduced characters and possible plot elements and expressed the wish that the work be a “carrefour de problemes” (intersection of problems), a broad panorama of life; composition of the novel is reflected also in his regular diary. Moreover, Gide’s character Edouard, who resembles his creator, is at work on a novel to be called “Les Faux-Monnayeurs.” The narrative focus often switches among characters; different viewpoints on identical matters establish an inner perspectival reality, enriched by texts outside the novel. This perspectival quality is a principal modernist feature of the work.
The book is in thrée parts, the outer two of eightéen chapters each, the inner one of seven chapters. While there is a third-person narrator who says I–an authorial persona–his narration is supplemented by first-person voices: Edouard’s lengthy diary excerpts, which constitute whole chapters, and various letters by other characters. Omniscience is eschewed; the authorial voice mentions limitations to his knowledge about his characters or his concern for their actions. At the end of part 2, the author judges his characters and their potentialities for the future. The diegetic and extradiegetic planes are thereby joined momentarily. No portion of Edouard’s novel-in-progress is finished, but notes for the work become part of his journal, and he also discusses his theory of fiction. He rejects as unsuitable for his work certain events that belong to Gide’s plot. Despite this variance and other qualifications brought by the text to Edouard’s ideas, critics often take Edouard’s statements as standing for Gide’s, not without some justification. The structure is not circular, but, suggesting Gide’s forward-looking temperament, the ending opens onto the future when Edouard writes in the final sentence (alluding to a boy of whom he has only heard): ‘ Je suis bien curieux de connaître Caloub” (I am very curious to méet Caloub).
The work is a novel of ideas as well as a novel of manners. Cleverness and insight abound. The title refers to producers of counterfeit coins; but more broadly it stands for those who practice hypocrisy, insincerity, cheating, mendacity, and posing of all sorts. Both Bernard, who leaves home when he discovers that he is not the son of the man he called father, and Edouard, who denounces inauthenticity and mendacity in literature, help carry out the theme, but it is omnipresent, contrasted with what Bernard calls probity. Other themes and topics include youth, self-development and self-indulgence, illegitimacy, fiction, psychiatry, moral responsibility, education, love and sexuality, religion (Protestant), and evil. Overlapping social circles (mostly bourgeois) and other connections establish a web in which acts have unpredictable consequences. Evil appears in various guises, among them the devil, a shadowy, circulating figure. His status is not that of other characters–he is invisible except to the authorial voice, and unheard–but he listens in the shadows and intervenes just enough to produce an effect. He may also be personified in a strange character named Strouvilhou, who manipulates others, and in Vincent, who ends up believing he is possessed by the devil or rather is the devil. Fittingly, the novel has at times a somber tone. Evil seems to triumph at the close, as a schoolboy, Boris, shoots himself with his grandfather’s pistol to carry out his part of a childish suicide pact, into which he has been led through Strouvilhou’s sadistic manipulations. The grandfather says he cannot pardon God: “Il s’amuse avec nous, comme un chat avec la souris qu’il tourmente . . . La cruauté, voilà le premier des attributs de Dieu” (He plays with us, like a cat with the mouse he torments . . . The first attribute of God is cruelty). Offsetting such evil, partially at least, is an angel who appears to Bernard. Additionally, genuine sentiments are disclosed: Bernard’s, at the close, for his adoptive father; and Edouard’s for young Olivier, his half-sister’s son, with whom he falls in love. Similarly, Rachel, a self-sacrificing young woman, the daughter of a Protestant pastor with whom Edouard has connections, devotes herself genuinely to her family, doing even menial tasks when there is no money for a housemaid.
The reception given to Les Faux-Monnayeurs varied: some critics saluted it as a modernist masterpiece; others dwelt on its presumed weaknesses (for instance, the rather narrow social spectrum), proclaimed it a failure, or denounced it for godlessness. It has been translated into at least fourtéen languages, and the critical literature on it is enormous. Time has demonstrated its durability, and it continues to compare favorably with other major novels of the modernist period.
In 1925, after finishing his novel, Gide was invited by the French government to inspect timber-growing concessions in French colonies, and he left with Allégret for an eleven-month journey to Africa. Allégret filmed their travels. The human misery and injustices Gide observed led him to publish two documentary works relating the journey and exposing abuses of the colonial administration. He also became interested in communism. Never a party member, however, and with scant interest in political theory, he said it was Christ, not Marx, who drew him to Soviet-style socialism.
In 1928 the Editions du Capitole in Paris published an homage volume of 330 pages titled simply André Gide. It was composed of adulatory assessments of his work (along with a few essays expressing reservations) by dozens of renowned authors and critics. Among the contributors were many friends of Gide, such as Jacques Copeau, Martin du Gard, and Valéry, but also figures from outside his circle of acquaintance. The following year, Gide was excoriated in a series of essays by Henri Massis titled “André Gide ou l’immo-ralisme” (André Gide or Immoralism), included in his Jugements.
Gide had long shown little interest in women’s social situations and concerns; his feminine figures had been, generally, either almost saintly women–Alissa in La Porte étroite and Rachel in Les Faux-Monnayeurs, for whom resignation was the mode of being–or fanciful or dangerous creatures. (He has even been accused of misogyny.) During the 1920s he developed greater sensitivity to women’s practical and sentimental lives. His 1929 narrative L’Ecole des femmes (translated as The School for Wives, 1929) reflects this new concern for women’s situations and psychology. Yet, the composition was long and laborious. In the form of a confession, it relates the story of Eveline, who falls in love with Robert and marries him against her parents’ advice, then discovers that he is the mediocre man they had recognized, a hypocrite and an opportunist. The work was followed by Robert (1930; translated, 1950), in which Robert tells his side of the story–another instance when Gide provided correcting perspectives on events. Geneviève (1936; translated as Geneviève, or The Unfinished Confidence, 1950) is the story of their daughter, who becomes emancipated and proposes having an illegitimate child with an older, respected family friend, Dr. Marchand. (The parallel with Gide’s life is obvious.) While feminist critics have ascribed great importance to these thrée narratives and especially to Geneviève’s example, they are far less impressive than the earlier récits. Social criticism came easily to Gide, but his attempts at such littérature engagée (committed literature) concerning social themes produced inferior work.
Gide’s major dramatic work from the interwar period, (Œdipe (composed in 1930, published in 1931; translated as Oedipus, 1950), in thrée acts and prose, was staged first in 1931 by Georges Pitoëff, who played the title role. Contemporary diction, anachronisms (such as reference to Freudian repression), and wit give a modern flavor to the text. The reception was mixed, with several unfavorable assessments. Gide believed that later critics would recognize the play as excellent. Gide’s Oedipus is a hero, but flawed by early hubris: pride in his accomplishments, happiness, and independent thinking. The hero’s individualism offset by fatality fulfilled Gide’s notion of a pagan theater. His version also expresses his social concerns of the 1930s and the enduring humanism of his maturity: anticlericalism, belief in progress, and God as a human concept. Humanity’s goal is ahead; it is not the fulfillment of some preordained model but a process of self-discovery and improvement for the entire species.
The answer to the Sphinx’s riddle (in Sophocles’ tragedy), wrote Gide, was man, because the answer is always man:
Persuadez-vous qu’à chacune de ses questions la rèponse reste pareille; oui, qu’il n’y a qu’une seule et même rèponse à de si diverses questions; et que cette rèponse unique, c’est: I’Hornine; et que cet homme unique, pour un chacun de nous, c’est: Soi.
(Convince yourself that for each of its questions the answer remains the same; yes, that there is only a single, identical reply to such diverse questions; and that this unique answer, is: Man; and that this unique man, for each of us, is: Himself.)
For (Œdipe, there can be no divine answer and no universal model: “Je me sentais une rèponse à je ne savais encore quelle question” (I felt I was an answer to a question yet unknown). God is man projected: “Dieu, c’est tout simplement ce que tu mets au bout de cet élan de ta pensée” (God is simply what you place at the end of that thrust of your thought). Popular credulity and priestly manipulation are mocked repeatedly, although priest and gods have the last word.
Self-development is counterbalanced, however, by the impulse toward self-discipline. After Jocasta is found hanged, (Œdipe blinds himself. The déed expresses not self-blame but paradoxically clear-sighted acknowledgment of his previous blindness and desire to go beyond it (“passer outre,” in a phrase repeated in Gide’s work): “C’est volontiers que je m’immole. J’étais parvenu à ce point que je ne pouvais plus dépasser qu’en prenant élan contre moi-même” (I immolate myself willingly. I had reached the point where I go farther only in taking impetus against myself). He desires, he says, only what is difficult.
With other high-profile fellow travelers, Gide participated in many left-wing activities during the 1930s; he and Malraux traveled in 1934 to Berlin to intervene in favor of political prisoners incarcerated by Adolf Hitler’s regime. In 1930 and again in 1935 public debates were held concerning Gide’s work and ideas, the procéedings of which were published; in the second, André Gide etnotre temps (André Gide and Our Time), Catholic and conservative intellectuals challenged Gide’s political positions. Far from disturbing or silencing him, these challenges, like the attacks of the 1920s, served him by increasing his notoriety and helping him affirm his thought and, particularly, his willingness to express it. In 1936, upon invitation, he visited the Soviet Union. This visit led to disappointment; the reality was far from what he imagined. He was particularly incensed by policies restricting sexual fréedom; it became clear also that his visit had been arranged to produce the effects the Soviet authorities wished. Two short works published after his return denounced Soviet errors and led to his estrangement from the left wing. He gradually abandoned his socialist views.
Madeleine Gide died in 1938. Gide appears to have felt genuine grief along with guilt; she had been an essential pole of his moral life. After the defeat of France in 1940, he contributed to the NRF until it became clear that the editorship was politically compromised as pro-collaborationist. During the remainder of World War II, he resided in the south with friends, then in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria (until summer 1945), where he kept his diary, helped found a literary magazine, and pursued other projects. Though many considered him too controversial for the conservative Académie Française, Georges Duhamel, its secretary, was sent after the war to sound him out concerning his willingness to stand as a candidate; Gide declined the invitation. His Oxford honorary doctorate and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947 confirmed his stature in the international literary community.
Gide’s Nobel Prize was given, according to the citation, “for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and kéen psychological insight.” The award evoked widespread and loud outcries from many of those who considered Gide a poisoner of youth and a scandal for France. Even before the official announcement of the selection, French newspapers had intimated it might be made but specified that discussion was heated. Gide’s friend Martin du Gard, noting privately that “l’election a ete tres disputée” (the choice was very controversial), suggested in a letter to Gide that the committée’s marked emphasis on “love of truth,” the spirit that gave rise to Corydm, was not calculated to discourage opposition. Martin du Gard expressed his delight at the award but admitted to a certain embarrassment that it had come so long after his own (1937). Gide replied publicly in Le Figaro (21 November 1947) to the Nobel announcement, acknowledging his emotion upon receiving the prize, while stressing that he had never sought honors, even though he had striven after fame, which he had expected to be posthumous; what surprised him was that it had arrived before his death. He surmised that the Nobel jury had taken into account less his writings themselves than the spirit that animated them–the spirit of frée inquiry, independence, even insubordination, the “sel de la terre, qui peut encore sauver le monde” (salt of the earth, which can still save the world). According to Gide’s Journal (volume 2), he told a Swedish interviewer, who asked whether he regretted publishing any of his books (having in mind, Gide surmised, Corydon or Retour de I’URSS), that not only did he not disavow any of them but also that if, in order to obtain the prize, he had been obliged to denounce some of his writings, “j’aurais certainement tirè ma révérence” (I would have bowed out). He noted in his Journal in early 1948 that, because of the Nobel Prize, there was considerable demand for his books, and many were out of print.
As Anders Österling said in presenting the award, Gide was “among the first literary names of France,” despite being “in the first rank of sowers of anxiety.” Per-spicaciously, Österling noted that an important period in the spiritual history of Europe was outlined in Gide’s work; yet, it gained recognition only slowly because its evaluation required a long perspective and space adequate for its development.
Gide was not well enough to attend the ceremony in Stockholm. However, he traveled within Europe on other occasions and continued to publish until nearly the end of his life. His last major work was Thésée (1946; translated as Theseus, 1948). Though it can be grouped with his earlier récits because it is a first-person narrative, it is not a modern psychological novel but rather a witty, original recounting of the Theseus legend, full of themes and insights characteristic of the author, who clearly speaks through his hero. It is thus closer thematically to (Œdipe; Gide even has Oedipus and Theseus méet. There is a vein of misogyny, along with an anti-egalitarian note. The contemporary social problems that drew Gide’s attention from the late 1920s well into the 1930s have disappeared; Thésée is concerned with timeless questions of ethics and self-development. Thésée’s account of his life is also his testament, which may be viewed as Gide’s. Two principal themes are interwoven: the individual (with the admonition to know oneself); and the connection of this self to others, especially to the heritage of the past (biological and cultural). But this past must not be an impediment to self-development, which is obtained through discipline and effort and which serves society: “L’humanité, pensais-je sans cesse, peut plus et vaut mieux” (Humanity, I kept thinking, can do more and is worth more). The atheism of Thésée is opposed to the mysticism of Dédale (Daedalus): “Les premières et les plus importantes victoires que devait remporter rhomme, c’est sur les dieux” (The first and most important victories that man had to win were over the gods). The narrative closes with a valediction: “Derrière moi, je laisse la cité d’Athenes. . . . Pour le bien de l’humanité future, j’ai fait mon oeuvre. J’ai vécu” (Behind me, I leave the city of Athens. . . . For the good of future humanity, I have done my work. I have lived).
Gide’s translation (1930) of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was staged in Paris in October 1946. In December 1950, a stage version of Les Caves du Vatican was produced at the Comédie-Française; it was favorably received. André Gide died on 19 February 1951 and was buried at Cuverville. The religious rite at his grave was the object of vigorous protest by Martin du Gard and other friends. In 1952 Gide’s works were placed on the Roman Catholic Index of Prohibited Books. Abundant scholarship, colloquia in America and Europe, readership in Africa, Asia, and Australia as well as the Occident, critical editions, inexpensive reprints, a vast published correspondence, and the presence of Gide’s works on school syllabi now testify to his lasting importance as a stylist and a bold, far-seeing, thought-provoking master.
Lettres (Liège: A la Lampe d’Aladdin, 1930);
Correspondance Francis Jammes-André Gide 1893–1938, edited by Robert Mallet (Paris: Gallimard, 1948);
Marcel Proust, Lettres à André Gide; includes letters by Gide (Neuchâtel & Paris: Ides et Calendes, 1949);
Correspondance, 1899–1926, Paul Claudel-André Gide, edited by Mallet (Paris: Gallimard, 1949); translated by John Russell as The Correspondence, 1899–1926, between Paul Claudel and André Gide (New York: Pantheon, 1952);
Correspondance, 1909–1926, Rainer Maria Rilke–André Gide, edited by Renée Lang (Paris: Corrêa, 1952);
Correspondance Paul Valéry-André Gide 1890–1942, edited by Mallet (Paris: Gallimard, 1955); abridged and translated by June Guicharnaud as Self-Portraits: The Gide-Valéry Letters, 1890–1942 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966);
Rilke, Gide et Verhaeren: correspondance inédite, edited by Carlo Bronne (Paris: Messein, 1955);
Correspondance André Gide-Charles Peguy 1905–1912, edited by Alfred Saffrey (Persan: Imprimerie de Persan-Beaumont, 1958);
The Correspondence of André Gide and Edmund Gosse, 1904–1928, edited by Linette F. Brugmans (New York: New York University Press, 1959; London: Owen, 1960);
Correspondance André Gide-Arnold Bennett 1911–1931: Vingt ans d’amitié litteraire, edited by Brugmans (Geneva & Paris: Droz & Minard, 1964);
Correspondance André Gide-Roger Martin du Gard 1913–1951, edited by Jean Delay, 2 volumes (Paris: Gallimard, 1968);
Jean Cocteau, Lettres à André Gide, edited by J.J. Kihm; includes letters by Gide (Paris: Table Ronde, 1970);
Correspondance André Gide–François Mauriac, 1912–1950, edited by Jacqueline Morton (Paris: Gallimard, 1971);
Correspondance d’André Gide et Georges Simenon, edited by Francis Lacassin and Gilbert Sigaux (Paris: Plon, 1973);
Charles Brunard, Correspondance avec André Gide et souvenirs (Paris: La Pensée Universelle, 1974);
Gide and Albert Mockel, Correspondance (1891–1938), edited by Gustave Vanwelkenhuyzen (Geneva: Droz, 1975);
Henri Ghéon and Gide, Correspondance, edited by Jean Tipi and Anne-Marie Moulènes, 2 volumes (Paris: Gallimard, 1976);
Correspondance André Gide-Juks Romains, edited by Claude Martin (Paris: Flammarion, 1976);
Gide and Jacques-Emile Blanche, Correspondance: 1892–1939, edited by Georges-Paul Collet (Paris: Gallimard, 1979);
André Gide-Justin O’Brien, Correspondance 1937–1951, edited by Morton (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 1979);
Correspondance André Gide-Dorothy Bussy, 1918–1951, edited by Jean Lambert, notes by Richard Tedes-chi, 3 volumes (Paris: Gallimard, 1979, 1981, 1982); translated by Tedeschi as Selected Letters of André Gide and Dorothy Bussy (London: Oxford University Press, 1983);
Deutsch-franzö’sische Gesprache 1920–1950: La Correspondance de Ernst Robert Curtius avec André Gide, Charles Du Bos et Valéry Larbaud, edited by Herbert and Jane M. Dieckmann (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1980);
Gabrielle Vulliez, La Tristesse d’un automne sans été: Correspondance de Gabrielle Vulliez avec André Gide et Paul Claudel (1923–1931) (Bron: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, Université Lyon II, 1981);
Gide and François-Paul Alibert, Correspondance: 1907–1950, edited by Martin (Lyons: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1982);
André Gide-Jean Giono, Correspondance 1929–1940, edited by Roland Bourneuf and Jacques Cotnam (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 1984);
D’un monde à I’autre. La Correspondance André Gide–Harry Kessler (1903–1933), edited by Claude Foucart (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, Université Lyon II, 1985);
Gide, Correspondance avec Jef Last (1934–1950), edited by C. J. Greshoff (Lyons: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1985);
Anna de Noailles and Gide, Correspondance (1902–1928), edited by Claude Mignot-Ogliastri (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, Université Lyon II, 1986);
Gide and Thea Sternheim, Correspondance (1927–1950), edited by Foucart (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, Université Lyon II, 1986);
Gide, Correspondance avec Francis Vielé-Griffin (1891–1931), edited by Henry de Paysac (Lyons: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1986);
Gide and Jacques Copeau, Correspondance, edited by Jean Claude, 2 volumes (Paris: Gallimard, 1987);
Gide, Correspondance avec André Ruyters (1895–1950), edited by Martin and Victor Martin-Schmets (Lyons: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1987);
Gide, Correspondance avec sa mère, 1880–1895, edited by Martin (Paris: Gallimard, 1988);
Gide and Jean Schlumberger, Correspondance 1901–1950, edited by Pascal Mercier and Peter Fawcett (Paris: Gallimard, 1993);
Gide and Henri de Régnier, Correspondance (1891–1911), edited by David J. Niederauer and Heather Franklyn (Lyons: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1997);
Franz Blei and Gide, Briefwechsel (Darmstadt: Wissen-schaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1997);
Gide and Jacques Rivière, Correspondance 1909–1925, edited by Pierre de Gaulmyn and Alain Rivière, with the collaboration of Kevin O’Neill and Stuart Barr (Paris: Gallimard, 1998);
L’Enfance de I’art: Correspondances avec Elie Allégret, 1886–1896, edited by Daniel Durosay (Paris: Gallimard, 1998);
Georges Simenon–André Gide: Sans trop de pudeur: Correspondance 1938–1950, edited by Benoit Denis (Paris: Omnibus, 1999);
Gide and Jean Malaquais, Correspondance 1935–1950, précédée de Historique de ma rencontre avec André Gide . . ., edited by Pierre Masson and Geneviève Millot-Nakach (Paris: Phébus, 2000);
Gide and Pierre de Massot, Correspondance 1923–1950, edited by Jacques Cotnam (Nantes: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 2001);
Gide and Edouard Ducôté, Correspondance 1895–1921, edited by Pierre Lachasse (Nantes: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 2002);
Gide, “Cher vieux. Lettres à Marcel Drouin (1895–1925),” La Kouvelle Revue Française, nos. 560, 561, 562 (January, April, June 2002): 1–29, 332–352, 338–360;
Gide and Aline Mayrisch, Correspondance 1903–1946, edited by Masson and Cornel Meder (Paris: Gallimard, 2003);
Gide, Pierre Louÿs, and Valéry, Correspondances à trois voix, 1888–1920, edited by Fawcett and Mercier (Paris: Gallimard, 2004);
Gide and Marc Allégret, Correspondance 1917–1949, edited by Claude and Masson (Paris: Gallimard, 2005).
Entretiens avec Jean Amrouche (Paris: Gallimard, 1949); 2 CDs (Paris: INA/Radio France, 1996);
Eric Marty, André Gide, qui êtes-vous? Avec les entretiens André Gide–Jean Amrouche (Paris: La Manufacture, 1987).
Arnold Naville, Bibliographie des e’crits d’André Gide 1891–1952 (Paris: Guy le Prat, 1949);
Jacques Cotnam, Bibliographie chronologique de l’oeuvre d’André Gide 1889–1973 (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1974);
Cotnam, Inventaire bibliographique et index analytique de la correspondance d’André Gide, publiée de 1897 à 1971 (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1975);
“Inventaire des traductions des oeuvres d’André Gide,” Bulletin des Amis d’André Gide, nos. 28, 29, 30, 31, 35,42,46,58 (1975–1983);
Claude Martin and others, La Correspondance générate d’André Gide, fascs. 1–8, 1879–1951 (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, Université Lyon II, 1985);
Catharine Savage Brosman, An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism an André Gide 1973–1988 (New York & London: Garland, 1990).
Justin O’Brien, Portrait of André Gide: A Critical Biography (London: Secker & Warburg, 1953);
Jean Schlumberger, Madeleine et André Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1956); translated by Richard H. Akeroyd as Madeleine and André Gide (Tuscaloosa, Ala.: Portals Press, 1980);
Jean Delay, La Jeunesse d’André Gide, 2 volumes (Paris: Gallimard, 1956–1957); abridged and translated by June Guicharnaud as The Youth of André Gide (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963);
Claude Martin, André Gide par lui-même (Paris: Seuil, 1963);
George D. Painter, André Gide, A Critical Biography (New York: Atheneum, 1968);
Pierre de Boisdeffre, Vie d’André Gide 1869–1951: Essai de biographie critique (Paris: Hachette, 1970);
Maria van Rysselberghe, Les Cahiers de la Petite Dame, 4 volumes, Cahiers André Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1973–1977);
Martin, La Maturitye d’André Gide: De “Paludes” à “I’Lmmo-raliste” 1895–1902 (Paris: Klincksieck, 1977);
Auguste Anglès, André Gide et le premier groupe de “La Nouvelle Revue Française,” 3 volumes (Paris: 1978, 1986,1986);
Pierre Lepape, André Gide le messager: Biographie (Paris: Seuil, 1997);
Martin, André Gide ou la vocation du bonheur (Paris: Fayard, 1998);
Alan Sheridan, André Gide: A Lfe in the Present (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press / Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999);
André Gide, homme solaire (Le Lavandou: Réseau Lalan, 2001);
Alain Goulet, André Gide: écrire pour vivre (Paris: Corti, 2002).
André Gide, nos. 1–11, special issues of Revue des Lettres Modernes (1970-);
Emily Apter, André Gide and the Codes of Homotextuality (Saratoga, Calif.: Anma Libri, 1987);
Archives André Gide, nos. 1–5, Archives des Lettres Modernes (Paris: Minard, 1964-);
Arthur E. Babcock, Portraits of Artists: Reflexivity in Gidean Fiction, 1902–1946 (York, S.C.: French Literature Publications, 1982);
Christopher D. Bettinson, Gide: “Les Caves du Vatican” (London: Edward Arnold, 1972);
Bettinson, Gide: a Study (Totowa, NJ.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1977);
Georges Brachfeld, André Gide and the Communist Temptation (Geneva: Droz, 1959);
Germaine Brée, André Gide, I’insaisissable Protée (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1953); revised and enlarged in English as André Gide (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1963); French version revised and enlarged (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1970);
Catharine Savage Brosman, Existential Fiction (Detroit: Gale Group, 2000);
Bulletin des Amis d’André Gide, 34 volumes to date, with index in number 135/136 (Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, Université de Lyon II, 1968-April 1985; Montpellier: Centre d’Etudes Litteraires du XX e Siècle, Université de Montpellier III, July 1985–1988; Paris X-Nanterre: Centre d’Etudes des Sciences de la Littérature, 1989–1990; Paris X-Nanterre: Centre de Sémiotique/Recherches Interdisicplinaires sur les textes modernes, 1991; Lyons: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, 1992–April 1994; Nantes: Centre d’Etudes Gidiennes, July-October 1994–);
Cahiers André Gide (Paris: Gallimard, 1969–);
Tom Conner, André Gide’s Politics: Rebellion and Ambivalence (New York: Palgrave, 2000);
Thomas Cordle, André Gide (New York: Twayne, 1969);
J. C. Davies, Gide: “L’ Immoraliste” and “La Porte étroite” (London: Edward Arnold, 1968);
Eugene H. Falk, Types of Thematic Structure: The Nature and Function of Motifs in Gide, Camus, and Sartre (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1967);
Gérard Genette, Figures III (Paris: Seuil, 1972), partly translated by Jane E. Lewin as Narrative Discourses: An Essay in Method (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1908);
Pamela Antonia Genova, André Gide dans le labyrinthe de la mythotextualité (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1995);
Albert Guerard, André Gide (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951);
W. W. Holdheim, Theory and Practice of the Novel: A Study on André Gide (Geneva: Droz, 1968);
Jean Hytier, André Gide (Algiers: Charlot, 1938, 1945); translated by Richard Howard (New York: Ungar, 1967);
G. W. Ireland, Gide (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1963);
Ireland, Gide, A Study of His Creative Writings (London: Oxford University Press, 1970);
David Littlejohn, ed., Gide: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1970);
Klaus Mann, André Gide and the Crisis of Modern Thought (New York: Creative Age Press, 1943);
Harold March, Gide and the Hound of Heaven (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1952);
Roger Martin du Gard, Notes sur André Gide 1913–1951 (Paris: Gallimard, 1951); republished in Martin du Gard, ŒEuvres complètes, volume 2 (Paris: Gallimard, 1955); translated by John Russell as Notes on André Gide (London: Deutsch, 1953);
Pierre Masson and Claude Martin, eds., André Gide et I’écriture de soi (Lyons: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 2002);
James H. McLaren, The Theatre of André Gide: Evolution of a Moral Philosopher (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1953);
H. J. Nersoyan, André Gide: The Theism of an Atheist (Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press, 1969);
Kevin O’Neill, André Gide and the Roman d’aventure (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1969);
Allan H. Pasco, “Subversive Structure in Gide’s L’lmmoraliste,” in his Novel Configurations, second edition (Birmingham, Ala.: Summa Publications, 1994);
Kenneth I. Perry, The Religious Symbolism of André Gide (The Hague: Mouton, 1969);
Vinio Rossi, André Gide: The Evolution of an Aesthetic (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1967);
Ben Stoltzfus, Gide’s Eagles (Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press / London & Amsterdam: Feffer & Simons, 1969);
Michael Tilby, Gide: “Les Faux-Monnayeurs” (London: Grant & Cutler, 1981);
C. D. E. Tolton, André Gide and the Art of Autobiography (Toronto: Macmillan, 1975);
David H. Walker, André Gide (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990);
Walker, Gide: “Les Nourritures terrestres” and “La Symphonic pastorale” (London: Grant & Cutler, 1990);
Walker, ed., André Gide (London & New York: Longman, 1996);
Walker and Brosman, eds., Retour aux “Nourritures terrestres” (Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi, 1997);
Helen Watson-Williams, André Gide and the Gréek Myth: A Critical Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967);
W. D. Wilson, André Gide: “La Symphoniepastorale” (London: Macmillan, 1971).
Fifty of André Gide’s manuscripts and about twelve thousand letters are deposited at the Bibliothèque Littéraire Jacques Doucet, Paris. These manuscripts are listed in the Catalogue de Fonds Spéciaux de la Bibliothèque Litteraire Jacques Doucet (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1972). Among them are the manuscripts of almost all of Gide’s novels, in addition to plays such as (Œdipe; one notable exception is that of Les Faux-Monnayeurs, which was purchased from a private collection at auction in 2001 by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Some manuscripts are located in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Many others remain in private hands.