André Gide Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

André Gide (zheed) began his literary career with a number of prose works that defy conventional classification; among them are poetic works in prose, such as Les Cahiers d’André Walter (1891; The Notebooks of André Walter, 1968) and Les Nourritures terrestres (1897; Fruits of the Earth, 1949), and the stories Paludes (1895; Marshlands, 1953) and Le Prométhée mal enchaîné (1899; Prometheus Misbound, 1953). Although closely related to his development as a novelist, such works are perhaps best described as lyric essays discussing the nature and limits of human freedom. Gide is known also for his Journal (1939-1950, 1954; The Journals of André Gide, 1889-1949, 1947-1951); several autobiographical volumes, including Si le grain ne meurt (1926; If It Die . . . , 1935) and Et nunc manet in te (1947, 1951; Madeleine, 1952); and the travelogues Voyage au Congo (1927; Travels in the Congo, 1929) and Retour de l’U.R.S.S. (1936; Return from the U.S.S.R., 1937). As early as 1899, Gide also applied his talents to the writing of plays; the products of these efforts are rarely performed but were published in English in the collection My Theater (1952) one year after the author’s death at the age of eighty-one.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Despite the relatively small portion of his output that can be classified legitimately as prose fiction, André Gide ranks among the most internationally influential French novelists of his time. With the notable exception of Marcel Proust, Gide was the preeminent French novelist of the period between 1900 and 1950, even though he refused to apply the term “novel” to all but one of his extended prose narratives. Although his reputation declined somewhat during the two decades immediately following his death, he would later be regarded among the major figures, both as theoretician and as practitioner, in the history of modern prose fiction.

Belonging, along with Proust and the somewhat younger François Mauriac, to the last generation of French writers whose private means released them from the need to earn a living, Gide wrote at first to discover and define himself, initially supplying the costs of publication out of his own pocket. Influenced at the beginning of his career by the Decadent and Symbolist movements, Gide’s work soon assumed a personal stamp and direction, acquiring universality even as the author sought primarily to find the best possible expression for his own particular concerns. Fruits of the Earth, a lyric meditation published in 1897, established Gide’s promise as an original writer and a rising literary figure, although it was not until some twenty years later, during and after World War I, that the book would render...

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Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

How does the structure of André Gide’s The Immoralist refute the charge that it justifies immorality in Michel?

To what extent was Gide’s age—he was almost fifty when World War I ended—a factor in his ability to see the postwar world more positively than many younger writers?

Consider Gide’s journal of The Counterfeiters as distinct from his other journals.

Are Bernard and Olivier themselves counterfeiters?

Gide has been considered a man who retained the faults of youthfulness. Does your reading of Gide confirm or deny this assertion?

How did Gide influence the existential movement?


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Bettinson, Christopher. Gide: A Study. London: Heinemann, 1977. The first chapter provides a succinct biography of Gide, and subsequent chapters concentrate on the major novels, with a final chapter on his social and political activities and writings. Includes a short bibliography. A good introductory study.

Brée, Germaine. Gide. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1963. A study by one of the great scholars of modern French literature, with chapters on the Gide of fact and legend, the man of letters, and on his major novels. Includes detailed notes and bibliography.

Cordle, Thomas. André Gide. 1969. Rev. ed. New York: Twayne, 1992. An introductory study, with chapters on “The Gidean Personality,” “Decadence and Symbolism,” “Romantic Resurgence,” and “Social Realism.” Includes notes and bibliography.

Driskill, Richard T. Madonnas and Maidens: Sexual Confusion in Lawrence and Gide. New York: Peter Lang, 1999. Examines the issues of sexuality, Christianity, and psychology in Gide and D. H. Lawrence.

Fowlie, Wallace. André Gide: His Life and Art. New York: Macmillan, 1965. One of the enduring, standard works on Gide, with chapters on his childhood and adolescence, early career, major novels, journals and autobiography, relationship to Catholicism, and his vocation as a writer.

Littlejohn, David, ed. Gide: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1970. Essays by distinguished critics on Gide’s fiction, including Germaine Brée on The Counterfeiters and Jean-Paul Sartre on Gide’s career. The introduction, chronology, and bibliography provide a comprehensive overview of his life and career.

Lucey, Michael. Gide’s Bent: Sexuality, Politics, Writing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. A specialized study for advanced students of Gide. Lucey discusses both his fiction and nonfiction.

Walker, David H., ed. André Gide. New York: Longman, 1996. Criticism and interpretation of Gide’s oeuvre. Includes bibliographical references and an index.