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...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Brée, Germaine. Gide. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1963. One of the best introductions to Gide and his work available in English. Brée’s analysis of The Counterfeiters and The Journal of “The Counterfeiters” emphasizes sociological aspects, connections to Gide’s life, and the importance of the readers’ own participation in the novel’s meaning.

Cordle, Thomas. André Gide. Updated ed. New York: Twayne, 1993. Contains a good analysis of The Counterfeiters, which Cordle considers Gide’s greatest work. The social critique of early twentieth century petty bourgeoisie comes out as an important theme of the novel. Selected bibliography.

Gide, André. Journal of “The Counterfeiters.” Translated by Justin O’ Brien. In The Counterfeiters by André Gide. Translated by Dorothy Bussy. New York: Knopf, 1951. Gide’s own account of his novel’s genesis is a fascinating document in its own right and provides many insights into its meaning.

Guerard, Albert J. André Gide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951. Still an important introduction to Gide’s work. Places The Counterfeiters in the tradition of the modern novel of the turn of the century, and makes some interesting parallels with the work of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevski, who was an important influence on Gide.

Walker, David H. André Gide. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. Contrasts The Counterfeiters with Gide’s earlier work. Analyzes the psychological aspects of the novel and the problem of causality.