André Gide

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André Paul Guillaume Gide (November 22, 1869February 19, 1951) was a French author and boylover, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947.

Life

Gide was born in Paris on November 22, 1869. He was brought up in isolated conditions in Normandy and became a prolific writer at an early age, publishing his first novel in 1891.

In 1893 and 1894 Gide traveled in northern Africa. He befriended Oscar Wilde in Algiers and there clearly recognized his own pederastic orientation. In 1895, after his mother's death, he married his cousin Madeleine Rondeaux but the marriage remained unconsummated.

In 1916 Marc Allégret, 16, became his lover. He was the son of Elie Allegret, best man at Gide's wedding. Gide and Allégret eloped to London, in retribution for which his wife burned all his correspondence, "the best part of myself," as he was later to comment. Gide later adopted Allégret.

In 1918 he met Dorothy Bussy, who was his friend for over thirty years and who would translate all his works into English. In 1923 he conceived a daughter named Catherine with another woman, Elisabeth van Rysselberghe, daughter of his friend, the Belgian neo-impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe. His wife Madeleine died in 1938.

From July 1926 to May 1927, he travelled through the French Equatorial Africa colony with his lover Marc Allégret. He went successively in Middle Congo (now the Republic of the Congo), in Oubangui-Chari (now the Central African Republic), briefly in Chad and then in Cameroun before returning to France. He related his peregrinations in a journal called Voyage au Congo and Le Retour du Tchad.

Gide left France for Africa in 1942 and lived in Tunis until the end of World War II and died on February 19, 1951.

Work

Gide's work comprises more than 90 books. He has written short stories, diaries, an autobiography, historical novels, fiction, essays and travelogues. Although today he is considered by many as a "gay" writer, Gide never saw himself as one of them, claiming that, "I was never homosexual, in the sense of finding men attractive." On the contrary, in many of his works he is explicit about his preference for young boys:

"But how can I describe my delirium at holding in my naked arms that perfect, savage little brown body, eager, lascivious? I spent a long time, after Mohammed had left me, in a state of trembling exaltation, and although I had reached the peak of pleasure five times with him, I re-lived my ecstasy again and again, and back at my room at the hotel prolonged the memories until dawn. At the first pale light I got up; and ran, yes really ran, in sandals, far beyond Mustapha; a kind of lightness of the body and soul did not leave me all day." (from his autobiography Si le grain ne meurt).

Gide also defended his love of boys in Corydon (1924) which he later considered to be his most important work.

Gide was also sympathetic to the plight of homosexuals, demanded more humane conditions for criminals and criticized the behavior of French business interests in Africa. During the 1930s he briefly became a communist, but became disillusioned after his visit to Soviet Union.

In 1947, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Selected works

An incomplete list of his boylove related works.

  • L'immoraliste (1902)
  • Amyntas (1906)
  • Corydon (1920)
  • Si le grain ne meurt (1926)
  • Voyage au Congo (1927)
  • Le Retour du Tchad (1928)
  • Journal 1889-1939 (1939)
  • Journal 1939-1942 (1944)
  • Journal 1942-1949 (1950)
  • Le Ramier (2002)

Further reading

  • Pollard, Patrick. André Gide: Homosexual Moralist (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991)
  • Segal, Naomi. André Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)

External links