André Gide

Franklin Library André Gide books

The Counterfeiters - Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century - 1979


Author André Gide

André Gide, born on November 22, 1869, in Paris, France, was a prominent French author and Nobel laureate in literature. His life, marked by intellectual curiosity and literary experimentation, spanned the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gide was a key figure in French literature, known for his novels, essays, and autobiographical works that explored complex themes of morality, individualism, and the search for personal authenticity. Gide's childhood was shaped by a strict Protestant upbringing. He lost his father at a young age, and this early loss had a profound impact on his emotional development. Despite his religious background, Gide's intellectual curiosity led him to question traditional beliefs and societal norms.

In 1891, Gide published his first novel, The Notebooks of André Walter, which reflected his struggle with conflicting desires and his exploration of unconventional ideas. His breakthrough work, The Immoralist (1902), explored the consequences of unrestrained individualism and sensual exploration. This novel marked a turning point in his literary career and established him as a leading figure in the literary movement known as Symbolism. Gide's literary output was diverse, ranging from novels like Strait is the Gate (1909) to philosophical essays such as Morality and Literature (1923). His works often delved into the complexities of human relationships, morality, and the tension between societal expectations and individual desires. One of Gide's most celebrated works is the semi-autobiographical novel The Counterfeiters (1925), which won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947. The novel showcased his innovative narrative techniques and his exploration of multiple perspectives and voices.

Throughout his life, Gide engaged with political and social issues. He was involved in various intellectual and artistic circles and maintained friendships with prominent figures like Marcel Proust, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus. Despite his initial support for communism, Gide later distanced himself from the Soviet Union due to its oppressive policies.

In addition to his literary accomplishments, Gide was a prolific essayist and diarist. His journals, particularly The Journals of André Gide, provided insight into his thoughts, struggles, and the evolution of his ideas over the years. André Gide passed away on February 19, 1951, leaving behind a rich body of work that continues to be studied and appreciated for its intellectual depth, psychological insight, and innovative literary techniques. His legacy extends beyond his written works, influencing subsequent generations of writers and thinkers who value the exploration of individualism, morality, and the complexities of the human experience.

The Counterfeiters

A young artist pursues a search for knowledge through the treatment of homosexuality and the collapse of morality in middle class France.

Originally published in 1925, this book became known for the frank sexuality of its contents and its account of middle class French morality. The themes of the book explore the problem of morals, the problem of society and the problems facing writers.

The measured tone of hopeless nihilism that pervades The Counterfeiters quickly shatters any image of André Gide as the querulous and impious Buddha to a quarter-century of intellectuals. In sharp and brilliant prose a seedy, cynical and gratuitously alarming narrative is developed, involving a wide range of otherwise harmless and mainly middle-to-upper-class Parisians. But the setting could be anywhere. From puberty through adolescence to death, The Counterfeiters is a rare encyclopedia of human disorder, weakness and despair.

Gide's modern classic deals with the issue of the original and the copy, both on a material and a a human level. It's ground-breaking style won it few friends at first, but critical acclaim developed as the style of writing became better understood.

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