Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Paris. Capital of France that provides the background for the first and third parts of the novel, which unfold in summer and fall, respectively. André Gide concentrates the ills of contemporary France into its capital, transposing other cities’ real scandals—including schoolboy suicides in Clermont-Ferrand and counterfeiting activities in Rouen—to his fictionalized Paris. Concerned more with his characters’ moral environment than their physical environment, Gide sketches in the cityscape not with descriptive details but with place names and specific itineraries. At the heart of his map is the Left Bank of the Seine; however, Bernard Profitendieu wanders the entire city in search of freedom and adventure, while the novelist-protagonist, Édouard, traces old contacts both there and across town.


*Rambouillet (rah[n]-bew-YAY). French town about twenty-eight miles southwest of Paris. Gide’s modernist minimizing of realistic description is at its most extreme in chapter 17’s vague evocation of Rambouillet, a town with a fourteenth century château, a large park and a forest. When Vincent Molinier joins two aristocratic friends for dinner, they simply “sat down to table on the terrace of a hotel overlooking a garden where the shades of night were gathering.” Only the chapter title, “The Evening at Rambouillet,” pins down the locale and suggests upper-class indulgence.

*Luxembourg Gardens

*Luxembourg Gardens. Spacious gardens attached to Paris’s Luxembourg Palace, built on the Left Bank by King Louis XIII’s mother in the seventeenth century. This site is at the center of the urban landscape, with the first chapter taking Bernard from his parents’ home...

(The entire section is 723 words.)