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Thread: Andre Gide

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    University or my little estate

    Andre Gide

    Gide was a prominent french writer of prose and verse, who was a contemporary to Proust. However by the subsequent generation of french writers, Sartre, Camus ect. he was regarded as the greatest novelist of the previous generation, not proust.

    This is a passage from his first novel I believe, which I adore

    The playful mingling of the night and the sea - that is where one can find infinity.

    A small figure lay sitting down on an outcrop of rock - which grazed the solemnly murmuring waves, as they gently rolled in to lick the figure’s feet only to return to their depths with suppressed giggles.
    I stared at the scene before me for roughly half an hour, but I cannot be sure. When held in the bosom of nature, time loses it’s meaning as does mortality and reality. Such philosophies seem irrelevant, even frivolous compared to the infinite before you.
    I slowly approached the figure. My paces were soft and delicate, for I was fearful to ruin the Beauty of the moment - for all a man truly has is beauty. No matter the oppressions of life and it’s taunts, chanting from primeval masks with flaring tongues and lips - one could always find Beauty, which would cleanse him of all mortal woe; leaving behind a calm ripple-less pool, calmly weaving with the moon and the thin stalks of green. To find such beauty is rare. I did not wish to ruin the season for the figure on the rock.
    As I approached the figure, a face turned towards me, his face. It was a moonless night, yet his face beamed like a lone angel in the dark, as if there was stream of misty silver tears which rested as a halo over his head, illuminating his entire being - flesh, mind and soul. His lips stretched in hushed tones, forming a wistful smile. Like a young boy with plump rosy cheeks staring into the window of a patisserie, knowing his imagination has created a treat far tastier than any which can be conceived in reality; knowing he shall never taste the treat of his imagination - doomed to forever be a voyeur in the land of beauty. With a sigh of poignance he pondered my visage for several seconds, like a sage studying his reflection in a pond - then he spoke.

    She is beautiful is she not? Especially in her night-gown, look at her... An unending gown woven with the finest silks of midnight. Little starry lutes, forming constellations which clasp the threads of her gown together, with la chanson della nuit. Lastly her tiara, the moon - a silver of light even in the darkest of night...

    The man flowed his head from me back towards the sea, with the natural ease of the tide. He sighed and then continued to speak.

    She is equally sublime in her day dress. Azure with tender frills of white - the divans of cherubs. Of course during the day she also wears her golden crown, the sun. When a man awakes from troubled dreams, and then goes on a stroll under the aura of her crown, he hears the song of his life. The song which brightens his thoughts and emotions, rendering them playful. Changing them from shadows in gray buildings to fanculli roaming over rolling plains of breezy greens and cozy blues. Her dresses are beautiful... Don't look at me with that idiotic smile... She - the sky, the universe, the infinite. She has many names, many symbols; yet none do her justice... The question however, is have you ever seen her naked essence? One can see her primeval flesh and soul (for with her, flesh and soul are one and the same) during those brief periods where she changes from her day-dress to her night-gown - dawn and dusk. Her soft pink nape, the smooth lilacs and powdered blues of her visage; and her virgin breath, lingering upon the world in colors only known to infants...Yet, no single inch of land will show you the same portion of her flowery flesh. Most dawns and dusks show but her limbs or stomach. Tell me, what aspect of her do you wish to see?
    Her...Her eyes.

    I had answered vacantly, as if the voice replying was not my own, as if I was but a marionette tied to the unseen strings of the cosmos.The man turned his visage back towards me, and for the first time he stared into my eyes. He examined me with tenderness. A basic instinct of mine eased my body; allowing my thoughts to slip free from mortality, the one shackle which burdens all human thought.

    I have never seen her eyes...Like you, they were what I truly wished to see of her. There is only one place where her eyes can be seen. I know not the precise whereabouts of this place, nor shall I ever know...I have heard rumors though. Many a wise and toothless stranger, have told me her eyes are to be found in the land once known as Abyssinia...

    He softly stood up and without looking back, walked away into the night. That was the night I first heard the call of Abyssinia. Since then her voice has lingered in my mind, constantly beckoning - like the call of a mother to her orphan child.

  2. #2
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    I've only read The Immoralist. That was really strange.

  3. #3
    Registered User B. Laumness's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
    He wanted a classic style, and he put a lot of efforts to acquire it, when the times were not at the classicism anymore. He wrote good books, which smellt old after only a few decades, after Kafka, Joyce, Proust... As a member of Gallimard edition, he refused the edition of the masterwork of this latter...

    I liked his novel La Porte étroite, and found interesting his diary, a few years ago, when I was charmed by this erudite way of life.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    My favourites of Gide are "Les faux-monnayeurs" and "Paludes".
    He was a great author with thoughts and ideas I strongly sympathise with.

    Best regards

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Oct 2010
    I carry an old dog-eared copy of "The Fruits of the Earth" around with me everywhere. Written at a time when Gide was recovering from a serious illness, it always for me puts into perspective the basic, important aspects of life.

  6. #6
    Registered User
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    Jul 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    I've only read The Immoralist. That was really strange.
    I read that also, enjoyed it. As someone who has spent amounts of time in both France and North Africa, I felt he honestly depicted life, within the context of the era and the characters. Which I thought was very remarkable and enjoyable.

  7. #7
    Registered User coboyle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Northern Ireland
    For my French A-Level, we're reading La Symphonie Pastorale; I'm enjoying it but the rest of my class don't seem to!

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