Author: André Gide,Bernard Frechtman
Category: Biography & Autobiography
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Gide, in this first English translation, defended a poet named Oscar Wilde when other poets threatened to wreck Wilde s life and attempted to show that Wilde was an honorable man. Gide s personal sketches are presented in this book that are in original form. This work was written during the prime of Oscar Wilde s life. Andre Gide (1869-1951), French writer, whose novels, plays, and autobiographical works are distinguished for their exhaustive analysis of individual efforts at self-realization and Protestant ethical concepts; together with his critical works they had a profound influence on French writing and philosophy. Gide was born November 22, 1869, in Paris into a strict Protestant family and educated at the Ecole Alsacienne and the Lycee Henri IV. In his first book, Les cahiers d Andre Walter (The Notebooks of Andre Walter, 1891), Gide described the religious and romantic idealism of an unhappy young man. He then became associated with the Symbolists, but in 1894 began to develop an individualistic approach and style. In Les nourritures terrestres (The Fruits of the Earth, 1897) he preached the doctrine of active hedonism. Thereafter his works were devoted to examining the problems of individual freedom and responsibility, from many points of view. The Immoralist (1902; trans. 1930) and Strait Is the Gate (1909; trans. 1924) are studies of individual ethical concepts in conflict with conventional morality. The Caves of the Vatican (trans. 1927 and also published in English as Lafcadio s Adventures), in which Gide ridiculed the possibility of complete personal independence, appeared in 1914. The idyll La symphonie pastorale (The Pastoral Symphony, 1919; produced as a motion picture, 1947) dealt with love and responsibility. Gide examined the problems of middle-class families and of adolescence in If It Die (1920; trans. 1935) and in the popular novel of youth in Paris, The Counterfeiters (1926; trans. 1928). Gide s preoccupation with individual moral responsibility led him to seek public office. After filling municipal positions in Normandy (Normandie), he became a special envoy of the colonial ministry in 1925-26 and wrote two books describing conditions in the French African colonies. These reports, Voyage au Congo (1927) and Retour du Tchad (1927), were instrumental in bringing about reforms in French colonial law. They were published together in English as Travels in the Congo (1929). In the early 1930s Gide had expressed his admiration and hope for the experiment in the USSR, but after a journey in the Soviet Union he reported his disillusionment in Return from the U.S.S.R. (1936; trans. 1937). Many of Gide s critical studies appeared in La Nouvelle Revue Francaise, a literary periodical that he helped to found in 1909 and that became a dominant influence in French intellectual circles. These essays are principally analyses of the psychology of creative artists.