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literature

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Gide, André (1869-1951)  
 
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Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters)

Seemingly in response to this shock, he published Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters) in 1926, the only one of his works that he called a "novel." Like many of his other texts, Les Faux-Monnayeurs presents the failure of heterosexual unions and the substitution of homosexual relationships.

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The families Molinier and Profitendieu are guilty of infidelities past and present. The only relationship that ultimately succeeds is that of Eduard and his young nephew Olivier Molinier, who are clearly based on Gide and Marc Allégret. "It was for him [Allégret], to win his attention, his esteem, that I wrote Les Faux-Monnayeurs, just as all my preceding books were written under the influence of Em., or in the vain hope of convincing her," Gide wrote in his Journal 1889-39.

The relationship between Eduard and Oliver also furnished Gide an opportunity to make a case for , which Gide saw as permissible because it had been honored in ancient Greece and Rome.

Corydon

That case is further elaborated in Corydon (1924). Written in the form of four Socratic dialogues between a narrator and Corydon--a former doctor preparing a text entitled Défense de la pédérastie (In Defense of Pederasty)--the work is a witty and ironic treatise in defense of homosexuality.

In it, Gide rethinks Western hegemonic culture by examining homosexuality's civilizing influence on ancient Greek society. Corydon points out for example that historical periods in which homosexuality was socially acceptable were not decadent, but rather saw great artistic achievements.

Corydon's defense of homosexuality is further strengthened by an examination of homosexual practices among certain animals, and by a discussion of such ancient texts as Plutarch's La vie de Pélopidas--which proposes the strength of an army composed of homosexual lovers--and the fifth book of Diodore de Sicile--which outlines certain homosexual tendencies among the ancient Saxons.

Si le grain ne meurt (If It Die)

The limited publication of Corydon was not well received, but the republication of Gide's autobiography Si le grain ne meurt in 1926 (only thirteen copies had been printed in 1921) caused a scandal, largely because of its frank and intimate revelations concerning his homosexual orientation and experiences.

In many of his other works, the author's homosexuality was alluded to, but through rather ambiguous and subtle means, such as a certain indifference toward women and an intense curiosity about the masculine sex. In Gide's novels, notes Philippe Lejeune, "It is left up to the reader to either venture to the conclusion, or to not really understand at all."

In his autobiography, however, Gide attempted to recount more clearly and explicitly his homosexual awakenings and his coming out. The inner conflict that Gide attempted to describe was not the acceptance of his homosexual orientation but the struggle against the strict social codes that had been ingrained in him from an early age.

His masked homosexual orientation and the nonconsummation of his marriage were not Gide's only secrets. He had also engaged in an affair with Elisabeth Van Rysselberghe, the daughter of long-time friends; a union that resulted in the birth of Catherine in 1923, Gide's only offspring, whom he eventually adopted.

Gide's Last Years

Although he refused a nomination to the French Academy, Gide accepted an honorary doctorate from Oxford University in 1947. That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

Gide's last major work Thésée (Theseus, 1946) perhaps best gives voice to his feelings concerning his art. Theseus, pondering his life, feels that it has been lived in the service of mankind. He regrets none of his actions and hopes that his work will serve future generations.

"C'est consentant que j'approche la mort solitaire. J'ai goûté des biens de la terre. Il m'est doux de penser qu'après moi, grâce à moi, les hommes se reconnaîtront plus heureux, meilleurs et plus libre. Pour le bien de l'humanité future, j'ai fait mon oeuvre. J'ai vécu."

("I face death alone willingly. I've tasted the best of life. It is pleasing to me to think that after I'm gone, thanks to me, mankind will be happier, better and freer. For the benefit of future man, I created my work. I lived.")

Just as Theseus courageously battled the Minotaur, so Gide courageously used his homosexuality as a means of defying and challenging his suffocatingly strict moral and religious upbringing, the "monsters" of repressive traditions.

The impressive body of scholarly writing that has been devoted to the study of Gide and his works clearly illustrates that he now occupies an important place in twentieth-century literature.

Scott Fish

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    Bibliography
   

Apter, Emily S. André Gide and the Codes of Homosexuality. Saratoga, Calif.: ANMA Libri & Co., 1987.

Boisdeffre, Pierre de. Vie d'André Gide. Paris: Hachette, 1970.

Brée, Germaine. André Gide, l'insaisissable protée: Etude critique de l'oeuvre d'André Gide. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1953, 1970.

Brosman, Catharine S. An Annotated Bibliography of Criticism on André Gide 1973-88. New York: Garland, 1990.

Cordle, Thomas. André Gide, Updated Edition. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Delay, Jean. La Jeunesse d'André Gide. 2 vols. Paris: Gallimard, 1956-1957.

Fowlie, Wallace. André Gide: His Life and His Art. New York: Macmillian, 1965.

Fryer, Jonathan. André and Oscar: Gide, Wilde and the Gay Art of Living. London: Constable, 1997.

Howard, Richard. "From Exoticism to Homosexuality." A New History of French Literature. Denis Hollier, ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989. 836-842.

Lejeune, Philippe. Exercices d'ambiguïté. Lectures de Si le grain ne meurt d'André Gide. Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1974.

_____. "Gide et l'autobiographie." La Revue des Lettres Modernes 374-379 (1973): 31-69.

Ljungquist, Gary. "Les Faux-Monnayeurs as a Radical Statement on Homosexuality." Selected Proceedings: 32nd Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference. Georgorio C. Martin, ed. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Wake Forest University, 1984. 199-205.

Lucey, Michael. Gide's Bent: Sexuality, Politics, Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Martin, Claude, ed. André Gide 9. Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1991.

Mengay, Donald H. "The Distant Self: Unexpressed Homosexuality in André Gide's L'Immoraliste." Journal of Homosexuality 19.1 (1990): 1-22.

Moutote, Daniel. Index des idées, images, et formules du Journal 1889-1939 d'Andé Gide. Lyon: Université Lyon II, 1985.

Nettelbeck, Colin W. "L'Immoraliste turns ninety--or what more can be said about André Gide? An essay on cultural change." Australian Journal of French Studies. 29.1 (1992): 102-124.

Pollard, Patrick. André Gide: Homosexual Moralist. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991.

Schlumberger, Jean. Madeleine and André Gide. Paris: Gallimard, 1956.

Stambolian, George and Elaine Marks, eds. Homosexualities and French Literature. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1979.

Watson-Williams, Helen. André Gide and the Greek Myth: A Critical Study. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Fish, Scott  
    Entry Title: Gide, André  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated December 6, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/gide_a.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

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