Ethics and esthetics in André Gide's Les Faux-monnayeurs

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Ethics and esthetics in André Gide's Les Faux-monnayeurs
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Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1988.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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by John Addison Lambeth.
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Typescript.
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ETHIC
IN
LES


S AND ESTHETICS
ANDRE GIDE'S
FAUX-MONNAYEURS


JOHN


ADDISON


LAMBETH


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL
FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE 0
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY





















































Copyright 1988

by

John Addison Lambeth



































Dedicated to

Philip Stanhope Lambeth

whose recent arrival helped put everything
in proper perspective















TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page


KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS


ABSTRACT


. . ..................... vI


. S S S S S S U U S 5 0 S S 5 4 U S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S


CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION . . . . . .
NOTES


CHAPTER


THIRD REPUBLIC BELIEFS AND VALUES


. .... 7


POSITIVISM AND EDUCATIONAL REFORM .............
ZOLA AND THE EXPERIMENTAL NOVEL
CLASSICAL AND SPIRITUAL VALUES .. ... ....
SUBJECTIVITY AND VITALISM
NOTES


CHAPTER 3: THE FOUNDATIONS AND FLUIDITY OF GIDE'S


ESTHETIC


THE SYMBOLIST MOVEMENT
PALUDES AND THE CRITIQUE OF IDEALISM
GIDE'S READERS
A MOSAIC OF NOVELS
NOTES ... .


* S S S S S S S S S
* S U U U S S S S
* U S S S S S S S *
* S S S S S p p S
* 5 5 5 P U S *


CHAPTER 4: NARRATIVE ELEMENTS IN LES FAUX-MONNAYEURS


DESCRIPTION AND
DIALOGUE
NARRATIVE VOICE
FRAGMENTATION OF
NOTES


SETTING


THE NARRATIVE


* U p p a S S S C S U P U S U U
* S S S p p a a S p a a a U S S
* S S S S S 5 5 5 5 S S S S
* U S S S S S U S S S S S S S
* S S S S S p p p a S S S S S S


CHAPT


ER 5: L


HISTORY
MISE EN
MISE EN
MISE EN
NOTES


A MISE EN ABYME


AND USE OF THE TERM ....
ABYME OF THE STATEMENT
ABYME OF THE ENUNCIATION
ABYME OF THE CODE


. . . ..S U S S C .


CHAPTER 6: TIME AND HISTORY IN LES FAUX-MONNAYEURS











CHAPTER


BIBLIOGRAPHY


CONCLUSION


229


S S 5 9 S S S S S S S S S S S S S S


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH












KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS


Journal d'Andr. Gide I


(JAG I)


Journal d'Andre Gide II


(JAG II)


Romans.


R4cits et Soties.


Oeuvres Ivrioues


(Plaide Edition)


(III)


Oeuvres Compltes d'Andr6 Gide


(15 vols.)


(OC I,II,III,... )













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


ETHICS AND ESTHETICS IN ANDRE GIDE'S
LES FAUX-MONNAYEURS


By

John Addison Lambeth


April, 1988

Chairman: Professor Raymond Gay-Crosier
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures


Andrd Gide's experimental novel,


Les Faux-Monnaveurs,


has frequently been criticized


aesthetically flawed and as


ethically naive.


Gide '


novel


Critics have,


on the one hand,


exercise


considered


self-absorption,


attempting


normalize


the


notion


homosexual


relationships


between men and boys,


interesting novelistic


experiment bul


or on the other, an

t lacking coherence.


Many of his social-minded contemporaries found his novel to


overly


concerned with


esthetics,


totally


ignoring a


deepening social


crisis


wake


of World War


recent years there has been a reevaluation of Gide's novel


and


critics


have


tended


put


aside


any


ethical


considerations, judging Les Faux-Monnaveurs solely on formal










subtle ethical


foundations,


blinded by the rigorous


construction that they have discovered. They have failed to

grasp the significant marriage of the medium and the message

in this novel.

Gide described his early novels as a mosaic of works

that he conceived simultaneously, all dealing with the same


problem,


authenticity,


from


different


perspectives.


considered none of them to be truly novels precisely because


they were


told


from


single


perspective.


Faux-


Monnaveurs


was


true novel,


told from multiple


perspective.


Les Faux-Monnaveurs


is a synthetic work,


referring to


and reproducing many


styles


novelistic discourse and


form.


novel


about


writing


and


reading.


counterfeit gold coin functions as a metaphor for literature


and the counterfeit reality that it represents.


The coin is


also symbolic of the relationship between the novelist and

his public and it calls into question the whole problem of

relative values in the modern world. Gide's use of the mise


en abyme narrative


technique creates a novelistic puzzle


that forces the reader to actively participate in the search


for meaning.


The mise en abyme is a formal analog to


paradoxical structure of irony. They are both models of the


al teritv


of hP.in


and se r v


as vehi ni e


tn rnnvspv th
















CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION


AndrB


Gide began to write Les Faux-Monnaveurs


in 1919


at the age of fifty. By this time he was a widely read and


respected


critic,


essayist,


playwright,


translator


and


'fictional


author.


This


last circumlocution derives


from


Gide's


idiosyncratic genre distinctions.


The dedication at


the beginning of Les Faux-Monnayeurs reads



A Roger Martin du Gard
je dedie mon premier roman
en t4moignage d'amiti4 profonde.


A.G.


That Gide


(III,p.932)


should consider this work his first novel


might come as a surprise to some who have read his earlier

works such as 1'Immoraliste, la Porte 4troite, Isabelle, les


Caves du Vatican


and la Symphonie pastorale.


These works


are commonly considered to be novels today and


they were


in Gide's


time as well.


Gide himself had,


prior to


publication of Isabelle,


referred


his


early work


novels.













nature


and


function


the


novel.


This


reflection


germinated and blossomed forth in the context of an ongoing


debate among various


their respective


literary


journals


tendencies


and magazines.


represented by

Auguste Angl&s


describes this literary quarrel




Qu'il s'agisse d'esth6tique, de politique, de


religion,


morale,


toutes


ces


recoupent 1'un des ddbats enchevetrd


"directions"
s de 1'6poque


qui voit la restauration des valeurs "classiques"


et la critique du "romantisme"


C'est un example


de ces "captures" qu'on rencontre dans 1'histoire


des


iddes


come


dans


celle


des


fleuves


progressivement,


une


question


prend


tant


d'importance dans les pol6miques qu'elle attire a


elle


ses


voisines.-


this


rather


confusing debate of


accusations and


counter-accusations, Angl&s isolates three major themes


celui


des


quality4


classiques'


opp


os6es


aux


'aberration
considered


romantiques';


comme


seule


celui


du classicisme


expression


genie


frangais,
dernier;


et de


celui


la pr6cellence


des


mdrites


attribute a ce


'esprit


d'exploration psychologique et morale.


This


debate may be understood as symptomatic of what


various critics have called the crisis of the novel3 or the


.-r4 c?4 a nf rh nnnon nP 1 4 n 4n f rt i r Q a'fr 1T


M *? I nh ol Pmn fi Tnrl













symbolist movement,


also


1890s.


In an attempt to


better understand Andr6 Gide's esthetic position in relation


this


crisis,


propose


to examine his evolution as a


writer


the


historical


context


Third


French


Republic.


It is not my purpose here


to reduce Gide


to a


simple product of this period, but rather to examine certain

influences that helped to shape his vision of the novel and


eventually


led him


to write


Les


Faux-Monnaveurs.


I am


encouraged


this


endeavor


Gide's


own


essay


, "De


1'influence en literaturee" published in 1900, in which he

says of the artist


Que peut-il? Seul!


--Il est d6bordd.


il n'a


assez


ses


cinq


sens pour palper le monde;


ses


penser,
sent.


vingt-quatre heures par jour,


s'exprimer


II a besoin d'adjoints,


pour vivr


n'y suffit pas,


de substitute,


secr6taires. (OC III


, p.251)


I shall begin by examining the intellectual climate in


which Gide grew up,

philosophical bases


giving particular


for the


attention


literary movements


that had


formed


France at


time


of Gide's


entry


into


literary


scene in 1889 with


the composition of his first


'novel,


' Les


Cahiers d'Andr. Walter.


It is my contention













remain his primary concerns


through all of his subsequent


work.


will


first look at the dominant philosophical and


esthetic movements of his early years before describing the

reaction of which he was a part.


third chapter concerns Gide's literary production


up until 1919 when he began work on Les Faux-Monnayeurs.


discuss


his


early


writing


the


importance


his


involvement


with


the


Symbolist movement


and


Stdphane


Mallarm6 in particular and his involvement with the dominant


literary journal of his time,


La Nouvelle Revue franchise.


Gide has explicitly rejected the notion of an evolution in


his


literary


production,


claiming


rather


that


had


conceived of the totality of his literary works up until Les


Faux-Monnaveurs from the beginning and that his


individual


works should be seen as pieces of a mosaic, each exploring a

different aspect of narrative technique.

The fourth chapter is an examination of certain classic


narrative


elements


Les


Faux-Monnaveurs


such


description,


dialogue and narrative voice. The point of the


chapter


show


the


one


hand


multitude


techniques that Gide employs and the subtlety with which he

blends them, and on the other hand the paradoxical nature of


f a 1 C ,, -^ 1C I n a -r ^* 1


jj^ + i ^ ^ I*


I





nnnnnnn n


Ckn


p.













Les


Faux-Monnaveurs


refer


particularly


recent


structuralist critiques of Gide's novel


that help reveal


both the complexity of his project and its coherence.


The


last chapter


then


a critique of


the certain


reductionist aspects


structuralist approach


that


reveal Gide's subtle technique but in so doing conceal major


thematic


concerns


ethical


nature


well


ethical nature of his formal concerns.


Gide' s predilection


for


a subversive


form of


argumentation by misdirection


gradually


draws


reader


into


web


uncertainty,


raising question but offering no answers or only inadequate

ones.


Faux-Monnaveurs


first


glance


seems


to stand


outside of history.


There are contradictory references


people


historical


events


that


could


not


logically


coexist, although the basic field of historical reference is


the early


20th


century before World War


the other


hand


there is a very rich social milieu within the novel.


Besides


novelists


there


are


educators


and


students,


scientist,


psychiatrist,


preacher,


musician,


housewives,


lawyers


and criminals.


Furthermore,


money,


dominant form of social interaction,


is a central metaphor


4 n 4-l~~~n nn~~.n1 .s 4 1 1 n 4.. 4.. a m rrn 4- 4. a a na..ea,4.an*4


Les


*- **-^ n i~ r 1 T"


Cf-r l- AhC ^+*^ h ^










6



NOTES


Auguste Angles,


Andr6 Gide et le premier groupe de


Nouvelle Revue franchise, Paris, Gallimard, 1978, p.199.

2. Ibid., p.200.


Michel Raimond,


Cris


e du roman aux


lendemains du


Naturalisme aux annees vingt, Paris, Josd Corti, 1966.


Albert


Leonard,


La Crise du concept de


France au XXe Siecle, Paris, Jos4 Corti, 1974.


litt6rature en
















CHAPTER 2



THIRD REPUBLIC BELIEFS AND VALUES



Positivism and Educational Reform


Positivism, as a philosophical movement, has its roots


in the writings of Auguste Comte.


He used the term


'positive' in opposition to what he perceived as negative

thought in Hegelian dialectics. Although Comte was a rather


crude empiricist,


deriving his method from scientific


investigation,


added


the


interesting


twist of


historicism. He believed in stages in the history of ideas,

from the religious to the metaphysical and finally to the


scientific .


Comte denied metaphysics and attempted to


transform philosophical theory into scientific theory.

Marcuse says of Comte's project,



'Philosophie positive' is, in the last analysis, a


contradiction


in adjecto.


refers


the


synthesis of all empirical knowledge ordered into
a system of harmonious progress following an


inexorable course.


All opposition to social


r afO l 4+4 /^ 4 C nkl 4 *ar* aA nTll nnnni n4n l













In other words,


Comte wanted


develop an independent


science of


society


that would concern itself


only with


facts, not with transcendental illusions. He saw society


organized


system,


like


nature,


that


science


sociology would eventually


elucidate completely.


Comte's


writings were very clear and common-sensical, which perhaps


accounts at least in part,


for his great popularity.


Comte


read the works of the German philosopher Emmanuel Kant and


agreed with his fundamental


distinction between


noumenaa,


things in themselves, and 'phenomena,


them.


' things as we perceive


Comte decided that the search for true knowledge was


necessarily


limited


the systematic study of phenomena


from which one could derive


general laws.


Any speculation


concerning first causes or ultimate ends was disallowed


was


not


subj ect


scientific


verification


through


observation.


Positivism was,


in a very real sense,


a program for


society because Comte believed that from scientific method

one could make predictions and from these predictions one


could act.


In his Cours de Philosophie Positive Comte gives


four primary applications of positivism: 1) the rational and


objective search for the laws governing the human mind,


a .. n a e 4 rt 1 C< I .S 4 I n ,^ 4 n 1 a( n -t ww n I- Ja n S .a 4- a C


nmn 1, AAJ ,, ci, A U: 1 rr










9

organization of society.2 In his explanation of the first

point Comte rejects out of hand any possibility of knowledge

through introspection



Mais quant a observer de la meme manire les


phenom&nes
s'ex4cutent,


intellectuals pendant qu' ils
ii y a impossibility manifeste.


L'individu pensant ne sau
don't 1'un raisonnerai
regarderait raisonner


rait se partager en deux,
t, tandis que 1'autre
L'organe observe et


1'organe


observateur


etant,


dans


cas,


identiques comment 1'observation pourrait-elle
avoir lieu?)



I will have occasion to return to this problem of the

divided subject in the discussion below of realist

literature and the problem of the narrator. Before coming

back to this point it will be useful to look at some of the

effects of Comte's method in three other areas: educational


reform,


delineating fields of


inquiry


, and the re-


organization of society.


Positivism,


with its pragmatic vision and its naive


belief in inexorable human progress through science, was the

ideal philosophy for the managerial Republicans who were to

gain control of France in the wake of the debacle of the


Franco-Prussian War in 1871.


Indeed the Republicans


4i 1 a r- a Av 4 a 1 n a it on nra a ^ n^ r^ n^- ^ k ^ n it r aF % Trt wn 4 r n a TI 4












perceived as a primitive world view.


They gradually sought


eradicate all


traces


religious


teaching from the


public school system.

the idea of religion,


Comte was not necessarily hostile to

but he opposed both the unverifiable


dogmas


Catholicism


and


critical


metaphysics


Protestantism. Charles Lalo writes that


D'une part, avec les conservateurs,


11 affirme le


besoin


d'une


autoritd,


d'une


hidrarchie,


meme


d'une tradition,


voire d'une religion,


pourvu que


toutes ces forces d'organisation
du novel esprit scientifique 4


soient pendtries


When the Republicans took over the school system they


distributed new textbooks on history,


literature and morals


the


primary


and secondary


schools.


They


replaced


religious teaching with their own lay morality.


In the


late nineteenth century a new attack


the


Catholi


Church


this


time


the


Republicans


(many of them Protestants) ,


repeated


the process in areas where the Church had hitherto


been supreme.


Till


then ,


been basically religious


tradition


popular education had
keeping with this


the Republicans made their primary


schools concentrate on morals 5


The Third Republic is rightfully called "la republique des


on













and they tended,


of course,


to hire assistants with similar


ideas;


this was


especially the


case


the educational


system.


Fernand Buisson,


for


instance,


was


director of


primary education from 1879 until 1896. He was a well known


author,


a member of the Radical Party and of the League of


the Rights of Man, and later president of the powerful Ligue


d'Enseignement.


Buisson developed a neo-Protestant doctrine


in his


book Christianisme


liberal


calling for a radical


separation but complementarity between Church and school. He

promoted what he called "la foi laique.".6


Buisson was


greatly influenced by a Catholic heretic


who spent his


life attacking the Church,


the philosopher


Charles Renouvier. He was the author of numerous textbooks

for teachers of Republican morals. In 1873, he converted to


Protestantism and later,


the pages of his


journal La


Critiaue


philosophique,


recommended the conversion of


France to Protestantism

moral decadence. This x


a solution to social unrest and


leo-Protestant tendency grounded its


moral system in the writings of Kant and in the belief in

human progress through the development of the intellect.


These


ideas dovetailed nicely with


the positivism of


Comte's


disciple Jules


Ferry.


appointed a Protestant


- ,-, I-_


n a n r m a i C a r n n* 4- a V n 1 a U a -A n 1 n si 4-


*n a c^ rn r^n v M ^ va i nty u ^ rr^^ T













minister o

giving him


f education,


large place


preserved Comte's

e in the syllabus.


popularity by

Comte believed


that education should be both emotional and esthetic, using

the observation of concrete phenomena and active methods to


promote sociability in the masses.


He also gave primacy to


moral


Jesuits'


education and


educational


even


skills,


expressed


admiration


specifically


for


because


they


sought active and voluntary submission


opposed to sterile


and


disorganized


discussion. 8


Comte


went


recommend


that education be


governed by an independent,


autonomous corporation of intellectuals which provided Ferry


with the theoretical


justification to make the university


self-governing body.


Ferry


also


introduced


composition


into


primary


education,


stressing a positive method of


Zeldin provides evidence


that,


observation.


not only was near-universal


literacy achieved during this period in France but that the

children learned to write well.


After the decline of religion,


was laid on choosing the


most admired writers


great str


very best pro


Reading,


as a whole continued to be seen
values.9


ess


by the


eed education
a conquest of













believed


that


every


child


should


serve


moral


apprenticeship.


The day would begin in lay schools with a


lesson in morals replacing the catechism of Church schools.

Although the Republican morality was quite conservative, the


Catholic


Church,


in reaction to


the real


threat of being


supplanted among the people by a secular state, placed these


new textbooks


of morals


Index.


This seems a bit


extreme by today's standards. Paul Bert's textbook of 1882,


although it favored progress,


was intended to inculcate the


masses


with


social


values


and


sense


voluntary


submission to the state.10


spread


of primary


education,


stimulated by


competition between public and Church schools, had produced


near-universal


literacy


in France


turn


century


, secondary


education


catered


only


small


minority. Between 1881 and 1920 the percentage of boys 11 to


17 in secondary schools never surpassed


percent. In 1887


fifty-six percent of secondary schools were state lycdes or


colleges,


thirteen percent were


private


lay schools and


thirty-one percent were Church private 11 During the


Third Republic,


long


the amount of time students spent in seven


years of secondary school studying 'Letters'


slowly declined


n^ t-11- n r- m r .n F -- n 4-n a 4- n 1 -- n o 4 n +-,, 1, n ,. 4 l1 ,nnA..1













even


though


remained


the numbers


virtually


static


of new bacheliers f<

, they were having


)r each year

increasing


difficulty finding jobs.


Their options were either to go on


the university in order to specialize,


occasionally to


step


into a lucrative family business,


or most often,


simply


take


what they could get:


jobs


clerks,


tutors,


journalists or civil servants.


Undoubtedly,


they were an


elite group:


six


percent of their generation was to receive


secondary


education while


rest of


their peers were


serving


apprenticeships


for


trades,


setting


small


businesses or working in mines,


in factories or on farms;


but


they were


often


disappointed


discover


that


rhetoric


equality was hollow


and privilege was


still


divided according to class lines. Gide recalls his childhood


education


autobiography,


particularly


"J taiss


lucid


priviligid sa


statement from his

ns le savoir, comme


j' tals


Frangais et protestant sans


le savoir


XIII ,


p .226)


Les


Faux-Monnaveurs


vividly


portrays


atmosphere of


a Protestant lay


lycde,


drawn directly from


Gide's own experience


recounted in Si le rain ne meurt.


The


teaching of literature and history,


especially in


the state and private lay lyc6es, was greatly influenced by


A-. -


-- -r


.-i- -


n -


S- -1


---S A-


- S -


r, '1 u f rn r\ a c c2 n r 2 n r nn n n n r- a U f I n '. a n fly i r n n^ m U -->


1













moment.


' He meticulously developed these three parameters in


his analysis of the history of English literature and did it


eloquently


that


his


approach


became


standard


textbooks of literature. 12 Once again


, in his autobiography,


Gide


recalls


avidly reading all


of Taine' s books while a


student in the lycde.


(OC XIII,p.300)


Ironically,


Taine,


progressive Republican,


was later to see his ideas on race


used by the most conservative elements in France to justify


a rising nationalism accompanied by xenophobia.


In a later


work,


Orieines de


la France contemporaine,


Taine


tried to


define, in the wake of the debacle of the Second Empire, the

essence of the French nation and to give a unified identity


to its people.


However, as Zeldin states,


The effects


of his Oriains of Contemporary


France


was


thus not


turn Frenchmen against


Germany,


but


to urge


them


to move on


the same


conservative, indeed
Germany was following.13


reactionary


path


that


Ernest Renan was


at odds with


Taine concerning the


essence of a nation.


1882 called


In a famous lecture at the Sorbonne in


"Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?" Renan declared race


be an inadequate criterion,


as was


language.


A nation


S.1


* -- '


*fl fl t -r a a^ 'vn r l rn n n am r T / ra rn n r i a n .t nn


--


__


_


1













ideas


were


basically


conservative


and


served


justification of the status quo.


In an early essay called


L' Avenir de


la science,


written in 1848 but not published


until 1890, Renan expresses a firm belief in the progress of


humanity through


the marriage


scientific spirit with


imagination. Science, he said, was his religion.15 From 1865


until


general


1885


published a


title Histoire


des


series


ori ines


of volumes under


du christianisme


which,


using


positive methods,


argued


against


divinity


Christ and generally portrayed religion


cultural byproduct.16 His work obviously found its place in

the Republican syllabus.


It is difficult to


judge


true


impact of positive


philosophy on French society.


Being a part of the syllabus


in public


schools,


course,


did not ensure


universal


acceptance, nor did it ensure even an adequate understanding


teachers or their students.


is always


case


with the popularization of theories, they were watered down,


revised,


and associated with


other ideas or currents of


thought.


But positivism had the advantage of appealing to a


very


pragmatic


sense


empirical


observation.


The


systematic organization of knowledge into fields of inquiry

I n iia cn Q -? 7a-t lran4 ci 4 ai nn a a cn n a r -P nn rroaa t-rnran ana nh a










17

intellectuals and, through them, on many others of

generations to come. In a more general sense, in alliance

with pure and particularly applied sciences, it contributed

to the scientific spirit that was to dominate the Third

Republic not only in the development of human sciences but

even in the elaboration of a new esthetic. Indeed,

observation of concrete reality and the verisimilitude of an

author or an artist's representation of reality gradually

supplanted the Romantic esthetic revolving around the

individual, emotion and introspection.



Zola and the Experimental Novel


Balzac and Flaubert were the models of realism for the

young writers of the 1870s. They told their stories through

omniscient third-person narrators, concentrating,

particularly in the case of Balzac, on minute descriptions

of places, people and causally linked events. Their

narrators told their stories much as an historian would and

they frequently incorporated actual historical events into

the narrative both to increase the feeling of identification

in the reader and to appeal to his sense of verisimilitude.

R 'wa r tn tI >r i n v al in noi rr 4 I *r r? n t Q b0 n + t v rlrr t 1












a style


pure and objective as the 'Code Civil.


' It should


not be assumed that these writers were the dominant ones of

their generation. Balzac was the only one of the three


mentioned who achieved durable popular


success


in his time.


Hugo, Georges Sand, Prosper MHrimbe and Eugene Sue, among

others, were very popular Romantic writers of the period.

But it was nevertheless the inheritors of Balzac, above all

Emile Zola, who, in the 1870s, constituted a movement based

on scientific principles of observation and experimentation

- -the naturalist school.

The esthetic of the naturalist school was formulated in

the pages of the Soirees de Medan by Emile Zola, Maupassant,

the Goncourt brothers and J.K. Huysmans and others. The most

extensive statement of this esthetic is found in Zola's 1882

work, Le Roman experimental. Zola uses the term

'experimental' not in the sense of formal experimentation,

but rather in a scientific sense based on data observation

and cause to effect, or inductive inference, which he had

found in a book by the physiologist Dr. Claude Bernard


entitled Introduction la mddecine exD4rimentale.


Zola saw


the novel


a type of laboratory in which to experimentally


observe the behavior of human beings. He


states










19

parait et institute 1'experience, je veux dire fait


mouvoir le


s personnages dans une histoire


particulibre pour y montrer que la succession des
faits y sera telle que 1'exige le d4terminisme des
ph6nomfnes mis a l'6tude.17



Already in 1864, in their Journal, the Goncourt brothers


portrayed themselves


historians of the present and


expressed a desire to bring the 'lower classes' into the

novel. The naturalists believed that their works were a


transcription of 'life


it is,


' were true representations


of reality. Not, to be sure, the reality of actual events,

but the reality of natural laws represented by fictional

events and characters. Their pseudo-scientific position did

not last long under the pressure of more rigorous critics,

discussed below, and there were numerous defections within


this loosely connected group.


Maupassant soon abandoned his


naturalist style novel of manners in favor of psychological

novels. Huysmans began to write, with LA-Bas, what he called


a 'naturalisme spiritualiste.


' Gustave Flaubert, present at


the early elaborations of the naturalist esthetic, quickly

distanced himself from the others, following his own line of

reasoning which soon led him to his last and probably most


enigmatic novel, Bouvard et P4cuchet.


This ironic and


Fln~ nn.n AC nran# 1 1 *v nan r.4. n na a~ 1 4: n n nnrn a k 4 n .~ ar an i. an 4~ 1












clerks,


find only disaster in their experiments and only


disillusionment in their quest for knowledge.

Certainly the enduring popularity of Zola's works owes


more to the pathos,


the politics and his epic style than to


his ideas on social determinism,


but his rapid ascension


a best selling author does reflect the scientistic spirit of


his times. As previously mentioned, through the active

intervention of men like Jules Ferry, the new scientistic


doctrine was disseminated to the middle and lower classes

through an increasingly state dominated educational system.

Zola's massive book sales rose along with the literacy rate


in France. As reactionary


may seem today,


his ideas of social determinism


Zola represented social progress for his


contemporaries. He lent his eloquent pen to creating

sympathy for the condition of the working class.

Michel Raimond shows clearly that the writers of the

Naturalist group organized a veritable public relations


campaign in favor of their novels.


18 They scandalized the


literary world with their graphic depictions of daily


life


among the poor and with their equally graphic display of


language hitherto censured in literature.


their detractors with insolence,


They replied to


causing further scandal and


so a C 4 A C O a --4-A 4 4-1 it a .. c. a a a 1.. .. 4 a ..^--- *













better condemn them,


but it seems evident,


in light of their


tremendous commercial success,


particularly that of Zola,


that they had struck a chord of common scientistic vision


among the readers of the period.


This


"scientific" vision


had invaded such diverse areas of intellectual activity as


sociology,


history,


literary criticism,


literature and


painting,


not to mention politics and education.


Observation


and analysis were the touchstones of the objective positive

method.


Classical and Spiritual


Values


Naturalism had its detractors from the beginning.


Ferdinand BrunetiBre of the Acaddmie Frangaise,


for example,


criticized the naturalists in his La Banaueroute du


naturalisme in the name of classical values.


J.K.


Huysmans,


a defector,


came to criticize them for their


lack of


esthetic,


spiritual and moral


values.


Eugene Melchior de


Vogtd6,


in his Roman russe


(1885) compared the naturalist


novelists to their Russian counterparts,

clear superiority of the latter. De Vogu


pointing to the


ie saw in the novels


of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky an instrument for the study of


* 4 4


-~~ a a n n a a I a1 .r -. a 4 a- I a a a -


I










22

accordance with their own changing perspectives, gradually

orienting themselves either toward psychological studies or

toward a spiritualist, a poetic or a fantastic realism.19 If

the naturalists seem to dominate the literary scene of the

early Third Republic, it is probably because they represent

so well the spirit of the times. But it should not be

assumed that they were the only interesting writers of the

period nor the only popular ones.


Idealist novelists such


Octave Feuillet, Georges


Ohnet and Victor Cherbuliez enjoyed moderate


success


especially among upper middle class readers. In their works,

one often finds disenfranchised aristocrats searching for

ideals to give meaning to their lives in a materialistic

world. Gobineau, Barbey d'Aurevilly and Villiers de l'Isle-

Adam all shared an equal contempt for the modern world and

Paul Adam, in Le Mvst&re des foules (1888), is stridently


anti-scientistic.


These writers received


enthusiastic


support from the Catholic reaction and often took up the

banner of anti-naturalist, anti-scientistic sentiment in the

literary journals.20

One of the most talented critics of naturalism was the


young Catholic writer Paul Bourget. As early


1883, in an


n. .4..- 1 C a,. 1" f .. 1 n.. 4- .-1i ,, r. A I -la 1 4.1A 1 N^. ,.. -










23

novels were psychological and moral studies designed to

clarify the complexities of the human mind, but there i

invasion of bourgeois ideology in his writing and he


frequently falls into the 'roman B thhse.'21


His style was


very traditional and his characters rather conventional, but

he was recognized as one of the masters of the genre by the

turn of the century. Gide was later to give qualified praise

to Bourget whose ability he admired, but whose style he

chose not to imitate.


La "vraisemblabilitd" (je crois que


c'es


t son


mot) chez Bourget est parfaite


Emule de Balzac,


il est profonddment enfonc6 dans la realitd. Ii ne


s'y empetre jamais, comme j


e ferai


s surement


j'essayais d'y rdussir. Ma r6alit4 r


quelque peu fantastique.


te toujours


(JAG I, p.992)


Pierre Loti was a brilliant and non-conventional writer

of this period, blending fantasy with emotion to produce

poetic and often exotic novels. Loti characterized great

novels by their capacity to "ddpasser 1'anecdote pour en


faire un symbol de la condition humane.


He condemned


the 'naturalist vulgarities' in his acceptance speech before

the Acaddmie Frangaise.23

Jules Renard is perhaps one of the most original















Renard a 4t6,


au sortir du naturalisme,


sur


la voie d'une esth6tique nouvelle:


melange du reel


et de l'id6al,
et du rAve, qu


du s6rieux et de 1'ironie,


Li devait s'6panouir.


..


z Francis de Miomandre,


du rde


avant 1914,


Giraudoux et Colette.24


Yet none of these dissenting voices ever formed a


coherent group,


linked only by their unanimous condemnation


of naturalism and the materialist bent of their rivals.

Their repeated attacks eventually succeeded in discrediting

the naturalist esthetic but they were never able to find a


new esthetic of their own and so left a void.


Their


refutation of the Medan dogmas ended in a crisis of the


novel.


This cursory summary of the novel in France during the

first two decades of the Third Republic is an attempt to set


the scene for Andr6 Gide's entry into literature.


I have


dealt primarily with the novel and the quarrels about its

form and content because I want to trace the general

problematic of the relationship between representation and


reality.


This problematic relationship may be artificially


divided into two fundamental aspects,


ethical,


the esthetic and the


which are in practice difficult to separate.


- 1. -- -,. -L -,, -1 .-. -~ -.. -t 2 L1. -- -- -1. .










25

form and technique of the idealist and the naturalist

writers mentioned above are similar--primarily third-person

narration and alternating sequences of description,


dialogues and analysis.


On the level of content,


however,


they differ radically.


Zola was criticized by the idealists


not for his style as such,


but for the vulgar


language and


situations that he depicted which,


abstracting the ethical


implications in these ju

what constitutes beauty.


idgments,


comes down to a question of


For the naturalists,


esthetic


beauty was a function of thematic coherence and the


objective truth of the


situation presented.


The idealists


certainly agreed as concerns the


thematic coherence,


they appealed to subjective truths that they found,


not in


science,


but in philosophy and religion.


Furthermore,


whereas the idealists tended to portray individual


a metaphysical order,


crises of


the naturalists portrayed social


situations in which the individual was merely


living out his


biologically or socially determined existence.


From the ethical point of view,


one could again


separate form from content.


Obviously,


as described in the


preceding paragraph,


characters and situations are subject


to ethical


judgments.


The decisions that the characters make


L, L .- IL - a. -I -L,. at 'L. -- -l 1. 1










26

historically, naturalist writers removed moral

responsibility from their characters as individuals because

they were subject to forces beyond their control. Their

condition was a social problem, not an individual one, and

this appealed to a progressive sentiment of social reform to


alleviate the conditions that caused their 'depravity.


' On


the other hand, this very determinism that liberates them

from responsibility also denies their individual freedom to

control their own destiny. Furthermore, a primary formal

question, the position of the narrator in relation to the

situations and events in the novel, complicates the

narrative situation. Is the narrator, as presented, truly


objective and reliable? Is he subject to the


same forces as


those dictating the behavior and judgements of his

characters? By what criteria does the narrator analyze the

characters and situations he has created?

One may speak of ethics in another sense as regards the

relation of the novel to the public. It is, after all, an

act of communication that carries a message or messages and

that, by the act of publication, invites comment and

interpretation. What is the function of the novel in

relation to its readers? The novel, since its inception, has













interests of their readers.


This relationship between writer


and reader is also a question of form;


not only what


information is presented but how it is presented,


mouth and with what tone.


in whose


These questions involve complex


answers that shall be treated further in the course of the

discussion of Gide's novels.

One last point before leaving the discussion of Zola


and his naturalist colleagues.


The commercial


success


of a


novel is,

quality,


though by no means a definitive measure of

at least a reliable measure of its wide public


echo. As mentioned above,


the naturalists were very astute


in their use of public relations techniques and after Zola's


astounding commercial


success


with Nana in 1879,


they


parlayed this popularity into a power base that seemed to


feed on itself.


Zola's novels prior to Nana were reprinted


and sold by the tens of thousands


as were his subsequent


volumes in the Rougon-Macquart series. As much


naturalist novels were a result of a certain social


situation and a confluence of ideas,


too did they


serve


to disseminate and consecrate certain values by giving them


voice within a symbolic context. In

has an ideological function that is,


other words, th

in an absolute


e novel

sense,


- 9 I -1


1 -- "U


* I 1


11 eqyn nr i h nor.. aa rI an i- a.. r 9 n ne % .I a


c 1,, e


rl










28

didactic and moralistic; the plots became formulaic, the

characters conventional.

This dilemma was not to be resolved. In 1905, in a

response to a questionnaire by Le Cardonnel and Vellay,

Edmond Jaloux stated that French novelists had to search for


new techniques;


Gide responding to the same questionnaire,


expressed the belief that the French novel was entering a

period in which the appearance of new characters would


transform the novel. 26


As Gide was later to write in his


1936 preface to L'Immoraliste,


en art, il n' y


pas


de problem don't 1'oeuvre d'art ne soit la suffisante

solution." (III,p.367)



Subiectivitv and Vitalism


Andr6 Gide began writing his Journal in 1889; he had

finished his year of philosophy at the Lycee Henri IV and

was completing his first novel, Les Cahiers d'Andr6 Walter.

Before discussing this novel, it will be useful to consider


some of the events and publications of that year


example of the turmoil and contradictions of the period.


That year, the centenary of the French Revolution,


saw


.. at- CL a.I 1,1 T It__: -.-- ... .-t--










29

is a description from the pen of Frantz Jourdain in the

weekly magazine L'Illustration



Le plAtre, le moellon, la brique ne
dissimulent plus, sous un mensonger d6cor, le fer


ou la fonte


Les staffs, les faiences


terres cuites, les laves 4maillBes, les brique
vernisstes, les zincs laqu s, les mosaiques
chatoyantes, les enduits colori4s, les verres
flamboyants, toute la vaillante palette de la
polychromie architectonique rejouit la vue,


miroite sous le


soleil et chante le triomphe de


1'esprit frangais, de la gaiety gauloise, du
rationalisme dur une morne et pr6historique
scolastique 27



Jourdain goes on, in the same exalted tone, to describe

the Eiffel Tower, controversial centerpiece of this


centennial exhibition,


a new divinity,


"math4matiquement


implacable comme la destinde."28 The World Exhibition was a

source of great national pride and its opulence served as a

consecration of the embattled Third Republic and its

scientistic spirit.


The major literary


successes


of 1889 were Zola's La


Bete humane, Fort comme la mort by Maupassant, George

Ohnet's idealist novel Docteur Rameau, Japoneries d'Automne

by Pierre Loti and Bob A l'Exposition by Gyp. It was also


the year that Taine published his L'Avenir de la


Science,










30

in the influential Revue des Deux Mondes entitled "PriBre

sur la Tour Eiffel." He wrote,



Toi, fille du savoir, courbe ton orgueil


c'est peu d'dclairer 1'esprit


si l'on ne


guerit pas 1'dternelle peine du coeur
fonder le temple de la nouvelle alliance
science et de la foi.30


Sache
e de la


The most devastating attack, though little noticed at the

time, came that same year from the young philosopher Henri

Bergson in his work Essai sur les donndes immddiates de la


conscience.


Bergson's subtle and rigorous arguments were


later to be very influential in laying the groundwork for a

reaction against determinism and current scientific dogma.

In his 1889 essay, Bergson attacked the contradictions

inherent in both mechanist and dynamist approaches to

psychological phenomena. In both he saw a tendency toward

dualism as they both speak of objective and subjective

reality, giving precedence to one or the other of these two

aspects of experience. One of Bergson's primary critiques is

what he described as the spatialization of that which should

be more properly understood in terms of its duration. This

spatialization or quantification of sensory experience tends

a *,, n a a a: at 1 4.a4 *t a .J 4l it 4 -. Jr 4~ a a .* 1 a











31

vitalist principles led him to revalorize the notions of


duration,


intuition and what he termed


'creative evolution.


His teaching had a major impact on esthetic values--Proust

is only the most striking example--during the Belle Epoque.


Gide,


in an entry in his Journal in 1908 comments on his


reading of L'Evolution crdatrice


Importance admirable de ce livre
s'6chapper de nouveau la philosophies.
Que notre intelligence d4coupe,


, par ou peut


dans


continue ext~rieur,


des surfaces sur


lesquelles


elle pui


sse opdrer


: que le reste lui 6chappe;


qu'elle ne tienne compete que de cela
p.269)


Another interesting part of Bergson's


which he continued to develop in his later work,


critique of language.


(JAG I,


1889 essay and


is his


In the preface to Les Donnees


imm6diates he points to a fundamental contradiction that

arises in any philosophical investigation that attempts to

juxtapose in space phenomena that don't occupy space at all,


une traduction illegitime de 1'in6tendu en 6tendu,


la qualityd en quantity


,,31 He constantly examines


idiomatic expressions of everyday language which give a

notion of extensivity to sensations: 'une grande douleur'


tin A^ a 4 nr an 4H j .1 n 4- q C .h -- 1n


Tl *-


C 1













represent the duration of sensations,


not a predicative


language that fixes phenomena in time through definition,

but rather a metaphorical language.


It is easy to


see


the esthetic parallels that can be


drawn from this type of philosophical investigation,


Bergson's influence should not be overstated.


In fact,


did not really create a new 'intensive'


language.


His prose


style remained rigorously classical and its very clarity

represented an underlying contradiction of content by form.


Moreover,


although Bergson was to achieve great popularity


in the coming years with his optimistic philosophy of


creative evolution,


his ideas sustained a probing


reevaluation following the death and destruction of World


War I.


Gide was later to criticize Bergson


Ce qui me ddplait dans la doctrine de


Bergson,
qu'il le


c'est tout


et tout


que je pens


e ddja sans


qu'elle a de flatteur,


de care


ssant meme,


pour


1' esprit.


Plus tard on


croira decouvrir partout son influence sur notre


4poque,


simplement parce que lui-m&me est de


epoque et qu'il cede sans


cess


son


e au movement


son importance representative


(JAG I,


p.782)


The tone is harsh but Gide's point is well


taken.


Bergson


an important representative of the ideas of his time and


. D'ou










33

governments was rapidly secularizing daily life and Bergson

was correct to point out the linguistic pervasiveness of

positivist thought.

Gide's position within this period of conflicting

values can be traced through his Journal, which he began in

1889, his autobiography, Si le grain ne meurt, Jean Delay's

biography, La Jeunesse d'Andr4 Gide, and Claude Martin's

remarkable work, La Maturitd d'Andrd Gide. The first two

works offer an interesting contrast in both style and

judgement concerning Gide's early interests and ambitions.

Si le grain ne meurt was written concurrently with Les Faux-

Monnayeurs and so offers some interesting insights not only

with regard to his early life, but to his preoccupations in

the early 1920s. This is not an attempt to explain Gide's

work simply through biographical data, rather I intend to

choose elements of this data that indicate certain literary

and philosophical preferences that he exhibited and the

influences that contributed specifically to the development

of his fluid esthetic of the novel in the context of a

generalized crisis in esthetic and moral values. Without a

doubt the most important of these formative influences was

his involvement in the Symbolist movement and particularly
L.2 I.. l, ar 1 .. 1. ... 1, 1.. -Ilu Ct a.-i --T I.-- --- --










34

Gide was an introverted child and adolescent raised in

a wealthy and liberal Protestant family surrounded by women.

His father died with he was a young child and his mother

subsequently uprooted her little family of two several times

before finally returning to Paris to settle when young Andr6

was fifteen. Andr4's secondary education came to an abrupt

halt because of 'nervous disorders' when he was thirteen and

attending school in Montpellier. These problems were to


prevent him from returning to a regular classroom for


years. In the meantime he had a series of tutors whom he

describes in unflattering terms in his autobiography. The

last two years of this six year hiatus he spent working

assiduously with several tutors at the Pension Keller, a

Protestant boarding school that is obviously the model for

the Pension Vedel in Les Faux-Monnayeurs. He managed to

catch up with his former classmates in time to join them in

1887 for his Rhetorique at the Ecole Alsacienne, a private

lay lycee in Paris. Gide could hardly be considered a

representative product of the Republican school system.

However, it is certain that the Gide family, without

being fervently partisan, sympathized with the Republican


government,


did many liberal Protestants at the time. In


C 4 1 1 a n 4 a .I wr(v C 4 4 a .. a 1 a C a n a a a a a. n 1










35



Si nous allions voir une exposition de
tableaux--et nous ne manquions aucune de celles
que Le Temps voulait bien nous signaler--ce
n'dtait jamais sans emporter le numero du journal


qui en parlait, ni


sans relire sur place les


appreciations du critique, par grand peur


d'admirer de travers


, ou de n'admirer pas du tout.


(OC XIII, p.211)



The principal organ of the Republican government served then

as a mediator of cultural values for the Gides.

In another reference to Le Temps Gide recounts a

sequence of events that came from an article in the paper.

Having read an article concerning reports of moral turpitude

in a small street near the Pension Keller, Andrd's mother

warns him to avoid the street. Andre, for unexplained

reasons, suspects that his best friend may have frequented

this place and is so overwrought that when he finally

confronts his friend Bernard, who seems unaware of the

existence of any foul play on the street, AndrB breaks down

in tears, begging his friend not to go there. The reasons

behind such an extreme reaction are more a result of the

young Gide's vivid imagination than of the newspaper article


itself, but the reference is significant.


(Once again this


memory finds its way into Les Faux-Monnayeurs in two













editor of Le Temps.


(OC XIII,


p.240-241) Jean Delay tells us


that Gide even participated in a pro-Ferry demonstration


while attending the Ecole Alsacienne,


though he further


states that Gide was rather indifferent to politics.32 The

point here is not to determine whether Gide was a partisan


or not,


but to portray the subtle influences in his


environment.

Gide mentions a Cours de litterature dramatique by

Saint-Marc-Girardin that he and his mother used to read


aloud,


a chapter at a time,


during the year before he


entered the Pension Keller.


He also writes several


interesting pages about his first memories of his father's


library,


which he describes


a sanctus sanctorum full of


mysterious works in Latin and Greek,

classics in beautiful bindings. But


law books and great


the ones he chose


read were the small volumes of poetry.


He particularly


liked


Victor Hugo and Thdophile Gaut

great prestige in those days,


whose work had achieved


though Gautier's sensuality


caused Gide some embarrassment to read in front of his


mother.


He discovered the Greeks through translations by the


Parnassien poet Leconte de Lisle:


les


Grecs


, qui


eurent sur mon esprit une influence decisive.


n-fl'


" (OC XIII,


nJ vs a* rt I Ua 1 a r 1 a n ar A a a a 4 n a s. 4 a n rr a a i 1 4r- a ,a 4- i i a u /


n 'lk












the Scriptures: "


.1'art et la religion en moi


d6votieusement s'apousait et je goutais ma plus parfaite

extase au plus fondu de leur accord." (OC XIII, p.265)

also enjoyed the poetry of Heinrich Heine, first in


translation and then in the original


, and that of the


Parnassien poets Sully Prudhomme and FranCois Coppee.

One may assume that Gide gained a familiarity with the

French tradition during his Rh6torique. He speaks of early


attempt


s to write poetry but found his


verses


to be awkward


and "A la maniere de Sully Prudhomme." (OC XIII, p.266) He


progressively gave more attention to writing prose and, a


he entered his year of philosophy at the Lycde Henri IV, he


began to write his Cahiers d'Andr6


Walter.


This book


literally overflows with references to Greek and Latin

classics, to German and English authors and to a panoply of

French writers.

But as he entered his class in philosophy, he happened

upon Schopenhauer's Le Monde comme representation et come

volont6 which he read and reread (OC XIII, p.296), adopting

Schopenhauer's subjectivist and vitalist ideas for his own

credo. Though he claims later to have rid himself of

Schopenhauer's influence, in favor of Spinoza, Leibnitz,

fl a n n rn t nv iTt 4 a n n a v 4, $1 .. a 4 ar n e 4. 14 n 1 n n r n A n










38

attributes this statement to the influence of the German


philosopher.


(OC XIII,


p.321)


At another moment,


when


questioned by an insistant colleague at a Symbolist


gathering as to the


'formula'


which would guide his future


work,


Gide finally responded impatiently,


"Nous devons


tous


representer,"


a statement that was


later to appear in the


mouth of one of his characters.


(OC XIII


, p.332)


Schopenhauer's influence on French literature of the


Third Republic was ambiguous.


There were echoes of his


thought in such varied writers as Taine,


Bruneti&re,


Claude


Bernard and Paul Bourget.


Neo-Kantians such as Renouvier


found much to agree with in this German idealism



A ceux que la foi et la contemplation


esth6tique ne rdussi


ssaient plus & apaiser,


s'offrait une doctrine de renoncement et de
-c -. a- .- -a1 1 ;a- 6-- .. -...-.- 33


puri ication,


Brunetiere,


for instance was greatly influenced by


Schopenhauer and Darwin. He shared the former's fundamental


pessimism and belief in the perversity of human nature;


their most fundamental accord was on the dogma of original

sin.


ce le de Sc openhauer











39



Paul Bourget often quotes the German philosopher in his


Essais de psychologie contemporain,


particularly drawn to


Schopenhauer's notion that the material world is only a

projection of man's will and his radical idealism has much

to do with Bourget's development of the psychological novel


at the end of the century.


Bourget approved of


Schopenhauer's aversion to democracy as being hostile to the

superior individual and he believed that superior men,


disgusted by vulgarity,


should withdraw into contemplation


and mark their disdain for the common man.


The young French


writer was also drawn to the irrationalist pessimism of

Schopenhauer and used it in his critique of scientist.


Devant la banqueroute
connaissance ascientifque,
tomberont dans un disespoir


finale de la
beaucoup d'ames


comparable


e a


celui


qui aurait saisi Pascal,
la foi.35


s'il eit et6 priv6 de


Bourget played an active role in the struggle against

naturalism in favor of analytical novels and paved the way


for the psychological novel.


France,


In fact,


Pierre Loti and Maurice Barris,


along with Anatole


were to be


a4-L .... .. ... C t--- 1 2 a-1-- ... 1 -


~,1


~C1











40

It was a short subjectivist sketch that reveals more about


its author than about the French province. It was drawn from

notes Gide took while writing his first novel, Les Cahiers


d'Andr6 Walter,


in an isolated provincial cottage.


This work


was originally published in a very


limited edition in 1891


by the Librairie de 1'Art Ind6pendant in Paris


posthumous work of Andr4 Walter.


There was a preface by a


friend of the defunct author,


Pierre Chrysis


(pseudonym for


Pierre Lou$s,


Gide's best friend),


though within a year it


was generally known that Gide himself was the author.


times overwhelmingly maudlin, this novel is nevertheless

fascinating for its interesting form, the weaving together


of dialogues,


reflective monologues,


descriptions,


letter


fragments,


literary and biblical quotes,


poems and prayers,


all in diary entries of a young novelist who is writing a


novel about a young novelist.


There are numerous references


to this novel


that AndrB Walter is writing,


a long theoretical passage in the


"Cahier No


Allain including

ir," though we


never actually read any fragments of this novel.


In his summary biography of AndrB Walter,


Pierre


Chrysi


s includes this statement:


d'un livre qu'il


voulait faire:


"Ii parlait quelquefois

oeuvre strange,


a a -11 a s-


. a -


- a


V .-i a.Cin at. a -j a J n a- a a-. .n l r


4A A











41

early pages of the first part, the "Cahier Blanc," in which

AndrB Walter speaks of his literary inspiration


Puis avec 1
Baudelaire,


s ambitions rv414les, ce fut Vigny,
--Flaubert, 1'ami toujours souhaite


Les


subtilitds rhdtoriques des


Goncourts


affilaient notre esprit;
alerted, et plus ergoteur


tendhal le faisait plus
(OC I, p.33)


However, the work most often cited by far is the Bible,

a continual source of consolation and inspiration for the

protagonist, in the throes of a spiritual crisis which

eventually degenerates into madness (fievre c6rdbrale) and

finally death, leaving his work unfinished. Gide tells us

that he had eliminated about half the references to the

Bible in his final version on the advice of his friend and


mentor Emile Verhaeren. (OC XIII, p.310) Andr6 Walter


very much a Romantic hero in the tradition of Werther or

Ren6 and this is indeed a Bildungsroman in which we follow


the author through his spiritual and emotional crises.


it is


But


if a Romantic archetype were placed in a world of


symbols where passion is not so much an effect of the senses


of thought images. In a phrase redolent of Schopenhauer,


AndrB Walter writes: "L'Ame,


c'est


en nous la Volontd


. .,- -- r- x I V. i


_ _













write,

"Ainsi,


is preceded by this phrase from Corinthians V,


dts maintenant,


selon la chair."


(OC I,


nous ne connaissons plus personne--

p.92) Andr4 Walter retires to the


countryside and gradually withdraws into his own mind


living a studious life of abnegation.


The references to


other characters and events are gradually reduced to a

minimum and the introspection becomes more metaphysical.


"Pas un 4vtnement


la vie touj ours intime -tout


s'est


jou6 dans l'Ame,


il n'en a rien paru."


(OC I,


p.xvii)


Schopenhauer is also evoked repeatedly to


justify the


author's fascination with himself,


the subject:


"Ce qui


connait tout et n'est connu de personnel,


c'est le Sujet.


est done le support du monde.


" (OC I,


p.100)


This


extreme idealism is intentionally nourished in search of a

vision that goes beyond the materiality of objects. Andrd


Walter writes:


choses,


"Perdre le sentiment de son rapport


de sorte que la representation


avec


degage toute pure


et qu'aucune connaissance ext6rieure ne distraie de la


connaissance intuitive et de la vision commencee tout


coup


ne s'6veille.


" (OC I,


p .114)


His three catch words are


vie spontan6e,


' 'la connaissance intuitive'


and


'la foi.


(OC I,


p .112)


- I-


--- ^1 I- 1Z ... . 1_ -1 -------------... 1 -


IId


m


T-Tr 1 1













in a macabre race


toward death.


By the end of the


text,


author confuses himself with Allain as both succumb to


madness.


Earlier,


in a long footnote presented


notes for


the composition of Allain,


we find other similarities


between the novel he is writing and the novel we are


reading.

cerveau,


"Un personnage seulement


. ou plut6t son


n'est que le lieu commun oh le drame


champ clos ou les adversaires s'assaillent.


livre,


"(OC I,


p.95)


These adversaries are not two separate passions,


aspects of a single passion,


but two


'l'ame et la chair.


from the struggle between the spirit and the flesh that the


novel is created. He also calls this the struggle between

materialism and idealism. "Non point une veritd de r4alisme,


contingent fatalement;


mais une v6rit4 theorique,


absolue


(du moins humainement).


" (OC I,


p.94)


He wants to create an


ideal world,


la vie phdnomenale absent,


--seul les


noumenes


by transposing Spinoza's ethical principles


into an esthetic for the novel,


les lines


gdomdtriques.


Un roman c'est un th6oreme.


" (OC I,


p.94)


Les Cahiers d'Andr6 Walter,


for all its


excesses,


represents,


in kernel form,


esthetic preoccupations that


Gide would go on to elaborate for the rest of his career.

ml- -. 1 A.* 4 *












awareness would remain.


Andr6 Walter is an odd work with


its episodic narration and shifts of narrative voice, using

letter fragments in which dialogues are reported that in

turn elucidate some other part of the text. This structural

play, putting a conversation inside a diary entry inside the

novel within the context of a false preface, is a narrative


procedure that Gide continued to employ.


We will in fact


point to similar narrative strategies, though more subtly

executed, thirty-five years later in his Les Faux-


Monnaveurs


The diary form gives an impression of linear


development, but the diary fragments


presented seem to


represent more an absorption of a discontinuous reality in

which memory and especially other texts blend the past into

the present, each fragment subject to abstraction in the

present moment of the diary writing. The narrator is

continually looking backward, analyzing past events and

drawing general conclusions about himself, his relation to


human nature and to literature.


But the journal form is by


nature a deferred presence, that is to


say,


the narrator's


presence in the first person


presence


writing subject and his


object of the analysis only coincide with one


another through the abstraction of the past into a web of

.











45

Jean Rousset, in his brilliant work L'Intdrieur et

1'ext rieur, comments on Gide's radical subjectivity in the

young author's Notes de Bretagne, written during the

composition of Les Cahiers d'Andrd Walter


VoilA, me semble-t-il, 1'essentiel


dans le caracthre radicalement subjectif de


visions.


~ -r A 4- S 4- a. -


: 11 est


ces


Le rapport entire le spectacle et 1
a 36


spectateur tend A


renverser


In Andrd Walter the narrator gradually replaces the

spectacle of the material world with the spectacle of


himself, his inner world. He


says,


"les choses deviennent


vraies: il suffit qu'on les pense.


--C'est en nous qu'est la


rdalitd


notre esprit crde


ses


Vdrites." (OC I, p.54)


This


radical denial of exterior reality leads to a paradoxical

negation of the subject that only attains the purity it is

seeking through the death of the protagonist and of his

double. The conclusion of the text corresponds with the

death of its author; the text then is the image of the

author's life.

A few years later Gide was to write in his Journal,



On peut dire alors ceci, que je vois come


- .- 4 I V











46

The text is, in this sense, a higher reality; it is the

ideal that governs his actions. In the same 1892 entry in


his Journal Gide


says


"Toute notre vie s'emploie a tracer de


nous-memes un ineffagable portrait." (JAG I, p.29)


portrait we


see


of Andr6 Walter is a composite portrait of


his soul, and inevitably, the soul and will are all that


remain


cerebrale.


his body and his reason succumb to the 'fi&vre

I


The young AndrB Gide saw his first novel


a response


to a pressing need of his generation; in fact, he states in


Si le grain ne meurt that he expected great


success


this


work seemed to him to correspond to Melchior de VogOu's call

for innovation and to Paul Desjardin's Devoir present. (OC


XIII, p.304)


He was bitterly disappointed by the absence of


critical acclaim, not to say the indifference, of the large


majority of his contemporaries.


the praise of the 'happy few.


However, he took solace in

Pierre Louys lavished


enthusiastic praise on his friend's work and it was read and

admired within a small circle of habitues at Mallarm6's


courses du mardi soir.


' They admired his style and his


rigorous use of language in his effort toward perfect


limpidity of expression. Gide later said of hi


s Cahiers


. 9 .- 3 TI f A S -


1 1 __ ~











47

Gide began writing for various literary journals over


the coming years


a critic and essayist. The previously


mentioned "Notes de Bretagne" was published, still under the

pseudonym of Andrd Walter, in Albert Mockel's literary

magazine Wallonie and he finally published, under his own

name, the Traitd du Narcisse in Tristan Bernard's Entretiens


nolitiaues et litt~raires in 1892.


The Traitd du Narcisse,


with a subtitle "Thdorie du Symbole"


reads like a manifesto


of the Symbolist movement, of which Gide had become


a part.


Indeed certain critics


see


a major statement of


Symbolist esthetics. The following chapter will delve more

deeply into Gide's participation in the Symbolist movement.



NOTES

1. Herbert Marcuse, Reason and Revolution, London,
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973, p.341.


Charl


Lalo,


"Introduction." Cours de philosophie


positive, Paris, Hachette, 1927


3. August


, p.xxiv


e Comte, Cours de philosophie positive, Paris,


Hachette, 1927


, p.39.


4. Lalo, p.xiv.


Theodore Zeldin, France 1848-1945,


vol.II, London,


Clarendon Press, 1977


, p.14


6. Ibid., p.155.


-- -- a 101










48

11. Ibid., p.292.

12. Ibid., p.121.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid., p.123.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., p.124.

17. Emile Zola, Le Roman experimental, Les Oeuvres Completes
d'Emile Zola, Paris, Francois Bernouard, 1927-1929,vol.41,
p.1.

18. Michel Raimond, Le Roman depuis la Rdvolution, Paris,
Armand Colin, 1972, p.133.

19. Ibid., p.124.

20. Ibid. p.131.

21. Ibid., p.133.

22. Ibid., p.131.

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid., p.132.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid., p.134.

27. Jacques Chastenet, Histoire de la TroisiBme R4publique,
Paris, Hachette, 1974, p.535.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid., p.534.

30. Ibid., p.535.










49


34. Ibid., p.301-302.

35. Ibid., p.302.

36. Jean Rousset, L'Interieur et 1'exttrieur, Paris, Jose
Corti, 1968, p.227.
















CHAPTER 3




THE FOUNDATIONS AND FLUIDITY OF GIDE'S ESTHETIC




The Symbolist Movement


Although it is evident from remarks in Si le grain ne


meurt,


in Delay's


biography


and


in Gide's early


journal


entries that he was an avid reader of novels and philosophy,


his first love was poetry.


"Mais en


temps-lA, je n'avais


de regards que pour l'Ame, de goit que pour la poedsie." (OC


VII,p.316)


Gide


became


friends with Josd-Maria Herddia


through his


friend Pierre


Louys and spent his


Saturday


evenings at Hdrddia's home in the company of many poets and


artists whom he also


saw


on Tuesday evenings at Mallarm 's


apartment.


The


formative


influence of this


loosely knit avant-


garde


group,


and most particularly Stdphane Mallarmd,


Gide's career can hardly be overstated.


This is not to


that the young Gide was a sycophant who blindly followed his


guru ,


because


was


active


participant


the


-,1 -1t .?_ -_-


rfl t A- A_ A _


-S


-I


a a a n r ra n fl f r f Tr 1 r Vi rI V r 1' 0 r7 t I f fl r fl 0 T 1 fl 1 '1 T 0 0 1 0 f l


L










51

milieu was more of a catalyst that liberated him from any

realist penchant and reinforced his classical belief in the

primacy of style and the word. A closer examination of this

period will clarify some of the major and recurrent themes

in Gide's work.

The Symbolist movement derived its name from an 1886


article published by the poet Jean Moreas


in the Figaro.


Most of


journals


and magazines called it the


colee


d6cadente


Neither


these


expressions


truly


characterizes


the movement which,


dessinait en reaction contre


in Gide's words,


le rdalisme,


avec un remous


centre


Parnasse


6galement.


(OC


VII,p 321)


The


Parnassians, particularly in the person of Leconte de Lisle,


espoused a poetry of detachment and total objectivity.


their


scientific pretensions


defining


their esthetic


ideas were often as categorical as those of the Naturalists.


The


Symbolists


opposed


rigorous


precision


description of objects and the pristine clarity of ideas in


the


Parnassian


esthetic.


They put


greater


emphasis


fleeting


feeling


impressions


arising


from


the


subconscious.2


They


looked back


Baudelaire for their


vision of art.











52

Baudelaire is commonly regarded as a poet with one foot

in the past, Romanticism, and another in modernist idealism.


This dualism is certainly evident in much of his work


attempts to reconcile the material world with the spiritual.


dark moments,


his


nostalgia


for


a lost paradise of


natural harmony and purity gives way to irrational pessimism

about the oppressive world of material existence. He escaped


this


dilemma


through an abstract


idealism


in which the


harmonious paradise


could be


recreated


through art,


rather,


intuited


through


the mediation of


art.


But his


yearning for the sensuality of the material world constantly

crept back to burst his spiritual bubble.


The Symbolists,


particularly Mallarmd,


ambivalence concerning the material


world;


shared no such

they magnified


the idealism into a credo of pure art. Michel Ddcaudin,


his


Crise


des valeurs symbolistes,


says


that art,


in the


second half of the nineteenth century became a moral system,

a religion and a metaphysics:


refuse


sollicitation


monde


politique


positiviste,
ou sociales,


r6alitd


s matdrielles,


des


conventions


contraintes de


la vie police


on affirme


que 1'art est necessairement iddaliste.4













Camille Mauclair describes the symbol as,


"1'expression


d'une pensee par un 6tre,


un objet,


un acte n'intervenant


pas pour eux-memes, mais seulement pour cette expression."5

Mauclair goes on to enumerate the means of expressing these


ideas--allegory,


transposition,


allusion


and all


other


procedures of synthesis--which leads him to conclude


that


Symbolism was more a movement of forms than of ideas. 6

Mauclair is generally correct as concerns the majority


of symbolist poets such as Verlaine, R6gnier,


Vi61"-Griffin among others,


Verhaeren and


but his statement is misleading


for the more complex case of St6phane Mallarmd.


Yuen Park,


his


L'Id6e


chez Mallarm6,


points


precisely


difficulty one has in separating idea and form in Mallarm6's


poetry.


"La forme pure est ce qui n'existe pas. Elle est le


n6ant en


tant qu' absence du concrete" 7


Park further


says


that Mallarm6's poetry strives toward absolute purity,


the absolute is not in the realm of truth in a moral sense;

rather it is in the realm of order in a geometric sense.

It is certainly this rigorous approach to language that


made


his


poetry


hermetic,


the


point


of being


incomprehensible


for most of his contemporaries.


Anatole


France,


as editor


of Parnasse contemporaine,


originally


_- L? .I .. _I I* _1 1 1 1 *













Leconte


Lisle


and his


'c6nacle.


In Diva.ations


writes,


la po6sie est 1'expression par


language


human


ramene


son


rythme


ess


entiel


sens


mystdrieux


l'existence:


elle


doue


ainsi


d'authenticitd notre s6jour et constitute la seule
tache spirituelle.8


Art,


in effect,


replaced religion,


or perhaps constituted


its highest form of expression for Mallarm6.


essential for the discussion here


juxtapose


the great poet's ideas to those of his young disciple Gide

whose first work published under his own name, Le Traite du


Narcisse,


bears


subtitle


"ThBorie


symbole"


explain the symbol, Gide has recourse to Greek and Christian


myths --Narcissus


and the Garden of Eden.


He rewrites


myth of Narcissus, beginning in a time before the hero had

found his own image. "En la monotonie inutile de 1'heure il


s'inquiete,


et son coeur incertain s'interroge."


(III,p.3)


He leaves the monotony to search for his own image and stops


along the banks of the River of Time,


"fatale et illusoire


rivibre ou les


annees


passent et


s' coulent."


(IllI,p.3)


Narcissus looks into the present of events flowing past; he


- -


-~~L -. -. -1 ---A t .


I


1













du flot seul les diff6rencie. "


(III,p.4)


This leads him to


conclude


that they all must come from some paradisiac and


crystalline


formee


premiere


perdue,"


and Narcissus


then


dreams of paradise


The Garden of Eden is a place of perfect harmony: "Tout


s'y crystallisait en une floraison ndcessaire "


Alone within this garden is Adam;

les formes apparaissent." (III,p.


(III,p.5)


pour lui, par lui,


5) But Adam tires of being


the privileged and eternal


spectator


and desires,


like


Narcissus,


see


his own image,


"Car,


c 'est un esclavage


enfin,


l'on n'ose


risquer un geste,


sans crever tout


l'harmonie." (III,p.6) In a rebellious gesture of free will,


Adam breaks a branch of Ygdrasil,


"1'arbre logarithmique,"


and in so doing destroys the harmonious order of paradise,

forever lost. Henceforth man will only know paradise through

the words of the prophets and


des
pieusement
immemorial


poete
les


feuill


lisait


voici, qui
ets ddchir


vdrit6


recueilliront
4s du Livre


qu' il


faut


connaitre. (III,p


Paradise


total harmony of form;


exists


beneath


appearances inside of objects


each salt has within it the













v6rit6.


Son seul


devoir est qu'il


la manifeste.


Son seul pdch6: qu'il se pr6fhre. (III,p.8)


It is


likely that Gide drew these last two ideas from the


German philosopher Schopenhauer--that the will by necessity


manifests


itself


and


that


the poet must suspend his own


subjective will.


L' artiste


, le


savant, ne doit pas


prdfdrer


Vdritd


qu'ili


veut


dire:


voil&a


toute


morale;


le mot ni


veut montrer:


toute 1'esth4tique


la phrase,


dirais presque,
. (III,p.8)


a 1'idde qu'il
aue c'est la


But


poet and scientist are both looking for


these primary forms


from which


sense


emanates,


latter is limited by his meticulous inductive method, by his


need


for


innumerable


examples,


and


stops


appearance


things.


The


scientist,


obsessed


with


certainty,


refuses


to guess


intuitively.


The poet intuits


the


archetype


object--the


symbol --behind


the


appearances. For Gide the work of art is like a crystal,


paradise partial
puret6 superieure


et sures,


ou l'idde refleurit en


ouh les phras


symbols encore, mais


rythmique


symbols purs, ou


1 --1-- - A- A_- I 1 -


1,,,,,,1


11













Gide's


"poete


pieux"


in Narcisse answers


the call


master's "tache spirituelle;" and Gide's "phrases rythmiques


sures"


correspond to


the previously quoted phrase from


Divagations,


"rythme


essential


du sens


myst r i e ux


1'existence." Undoubtedly Gide's


idea of spirituality is


more


properly


religious


than Mallarm 's


metaphysical


spirituality.


There is a flavor of Calvinism in the crucial


role Gide gives to Adam's free will in the preordained unity


paradise


and


poet


becomes a


tragic figure


Romantic


tradition


a demi-god mediator between man and


paradise. Furthermore, Gide's notion of the transparency of


words


another Romantic notion of


immanence


to which


Mallarmd surely would not subscribe. However, many critics,


then


now,


view Narcisse


a primary theoretical document


the


Symbolist


movement


despite


certain


criticisms


proffered at the


time of


its publication,


most notably by


Gide's best friend, Pierre Louys, in his Ldda ou la louange


des Bienheureuses T6nebres. Beyond certain differences on


theoretical level,


Louts


well


Gide's other Symbolist


friends admired the Traitd du Narcisse


a beautiful work


of art.9


George


Lukacs,


his


Thdorie


roman,


briefly


_a ----_------------A_-U _- n __ u .: _A- ------- _- La -r __ 3


I I








* 1 I L













LA, on exigeait du monde ext6rieur qu'il se
recr4e A neuf sur le module des id6aux; ici, c'est


une


intdriorit4


qui,


s'achevant elle-mlme comme


creation


littgraire


, exige


du monde


extbrieur


qu'il s'offre A elle comme mati&re adequate
autostructuration.10


This relationship to the exterior world


autostructuration of


son


raw material for


literary work is a crucial


notion that Gide retained from his Symbolist association and

I shall have occasion to return to this point later in the


discussion of Les


Faux-Monnaveurs.


But Gide owes more


Mallarm6 than this basic vision of the artist's relationship


the exterior world;


appreciate


under his


importance of language


tutelage Gide came


itself and of


speaking subject.


Mallarme,


perhaps more


than any other poet,


believed


that the subject of all poems was poetry. His poems are an


attempt


to reverse


process


objectivation of


words.


undermines


and


obliterates


the


denotative


relationships between words and objects to create a higher


meaning. In Maurice Blanchot's words,


"Le language est


d6truit le monde pour le faire renaitre &a 1'tat de sens, de


valeurs signifi6es."11 This


idealist notion of language


best reflected in a famous quote from the preface Mallarm6













leve, id6e
bouquets 12


meme


suave,


1' absente


tous


this


absence of


the concrete


that Mallarmd seeks


through


the


form


poetic


expression.


This


abstract


idealism resembles closely some of Hegel's pronouncements on


poetry. 13


But Mallarm6


was


poet


and so


shifted


his


emphasis from objective reason to a subjective sensitivity.


In Mallarmd's poetry,


the subject becomes an integral part


of the texture, not as an end in itself, but as a universal

subject, a totalizing means of expressing the ideal. Order,


says Mallarm6,


"est saisi non par


la raison mais par


sensibility


le Beau n'est que 1'ordre immanent de la


totality


1'univers."14 Mallarme,


like


jet


pilot


breaking the sound barrier,


pushed the envelope of language


and form to the limit. To quote from Lukacs once again,


forme


1'immanence du sens


nait


justement du fa


telle que ]
it d'aller


l'exige la
jusqu'au


bout, et sans aucun management, dans la mise a nu
de son absence.15


lofty heights


of Mallarmean idealism fascinated


Gide


and


continued


admire


master's


mn: r~, ~ 1 I. -r











60

ideas remained, however, particularly the notion of critical


distance


and dialectical couples of subject/object and of


presence/absence.


The


subtlety


of Mallarmd's


dictum,


"Peindre, non la chose, mais 1'effet qu'elle produit,"16 was


remain


a point of


reference for Gide's view


suggestive magic of words,


importance of


form and


general problematic of language.


I shall return to Gide's


conception


form


and


problem


subj activity


language below.

It must be said that Gide was not particularly happy

with his chosen vocation as a poet, if one is to believe his

retrospective statements in Si le grain ne meurt. He could


not


remain


content


with


the


contemplative


peace


Narcissus,


seeing only his own reflection in the people and


objects that surrounded him. He writes,



1'ami qu'il m'eQt fallu, c'est quelqu'un qui


m'eat appri


s & m'int6resser a autrui et qui m' et


sorti de moi-meme


: un romancier. (OC VII,p.316)


Gide became friends with the English novelist Oscar Wilde in

1891 and Wilde certainly did much to open Gide up to himself


and


to others,


though it isn't certain that this was


C. t 1 ,1













of Nietzsche was


equally strong and perhaps accounts


some of his differences with others in the Symbolist group.

He writes at one point that the guests at Mallarmd's Tuesday

gatherings were enthralled with Plato, whereas he considered

Schopenhauer to be far superior. For the German philosopher,


artist


concerned


not


with


action


but


with


contemplation or what he termed will-less perception.


From


the


vantage


point


this


detachment,


all


esthetic


judgements would be disinterested and beauty sufficient unto


itself,


exterior


the


cause/effect


reasoning


conventional perception.


Schopenhauer


also held that there


is a shift in the subject's mode of perception in relation

to an esthetic object and consequently a shift in the object

perceived. The esthetic object is exterior to normal spatio-


temporally


and causally related


things


and events.


esthetic


observer is presented with,


"permanent essential


forms of the world and all its phenomena,"17 which he calls

archetypal forms. Schopenhauer approved Kant's separation of


noumena


(things


themselves)


from


phenomena


(one's


perception of things)


and agreed that one could only know


things through their appearances.


But he differs from Kant


that he proposes


two separate modes of


self-awareness.


- -


-, -. ,, -., -, ..- -- --- --. 4 I- 6 -- a-.- *


I. I


A


L ..













the Cartesian dualism of body and mind,


seeing instead the


body


merely an objectification of the will.


Though Gide


was


later


renounce


these


beliefs


favor of a more


materialist


doctrine,


Schopenhauer's


early


influence,


particularly regarding the double nature of the subject, was


remain.


Nietzsche,


another


disciple


Schopenhauer,


helped Gide overcome his fascination with the author of The


World As


Will


and Representation while


reinforcing his


vitalist penchant.


It is always difficult to


assess


the precise influence


that


ideas of one man produce


in another.


More often


than not


new ideas


are


integrated into an existing


framework


ideas


and ,


under


the


influence


personality of the reader and of the events of the time, are


selected and modified


to conform


much


they exert


pressure to change. Gide writes, in 1892,


remue


chaque
toutes


pens6e
les aut


nouvelle


res.


tout


ddplagant,
se confond


dans ma t&te


peu & tous les autres


. chaque concept


s'accroche un


(JAG I,p.30)


shall


return


Nietzsche's


place


in Gide's web


beliefs after


a discussion of the sophisticated irony of











63

Paludes and the Critiaue of Idealism


Gide maintained the


greatest respect for Mallarmd and


for


his


other


friends


Symbolist


group,


but


gradually


became


critical


the


closed


circle


they


represented, resisting exterior influences and making a cult


idealist beauty.


His novel Paludes,


published in 1895,


was


a reaction against the


egocentrism of


Parisian


milieu and many of its characters are easily recognizable

members of the group.


But


this


satire is


in good humor


and,


although Gide


mocks


the pretentions of many of his colleagues, his most


biting


satire


reserved


his


own


alter


ego,


nameless narrator. There is a significant shift in tone from

Gide's earlier works and Gide was later to classify Paludes

as a sotie. The original subtitle for this work was "Trait6


la Contingence"


and it was meant to be a complement to


his Narcisse. In the intervening period Gide had undergone a

radical change; his vision was different


Tout au plus pouvais-je pardonner aux autr


ae ne pas
j 'avais a


pouvais


reconnaitre que


dire


plus


des choses


leur


parler.


j' tais change
nouvelles, et


J'eusse


voulu


je ne
leur


I -I----------











64

To show this change in himself and the new ideas he wanted

to express, he conceived a different form of prose. Paludes

is a very lively, amusing and ironic narrative. The narrator


exaggerates


his


obsessions


and is


self-deprecatory


analysis


structure of this novel,


particularly


regards


the


levels


irony,


will


useful


discussion of Gide's development as a novelist.


Paludes,


broad


structural


outline,


closely


resembles the earlier Cahiers d'Andr6 Walter.


It is also


written in


poems,


journal form, it

is open-ended and,


contains


letter fragments and


in a strange sense,


it also


recounts the spiritual quest of a young novelist writing a


novel.


But between these


two novels,


similar in form,


lies


the


distance


ironic


consciousness.


One


finds


character


Emmanuelle


from Andrd


Walter,


a very serious,


spiritual companion, metamorphosed into Angble, a lively and

frivolous companion. The earlier sedentary and introspective

narrator has become a peripatetic extrovert. Moreover, while


Andre


Walter


there


are


really


only


two


essential


characters who rarely speak,


in Paludes there are many and


dialogue


abound.


If Andr4


Walter's


dilemma


was wholly


within his


soul and apparent to no one,


the narrator


0 -,,1 ,,~ 1 .E Al nIhl nI a i Aa .1 n*


An













more


than


journal entries.


Furthermore,


these chapters qua


journal


entries


are not


simply


accounts


the events,


encounters


and


abstraction,


readings


but


truly


the


narrative


day


with


units


appropriate


with


reported


dialogues, character analysis and descriptions, all of which


concern,


Paludes,


directly


which


indirectly,


in effect,


novel


the novel


in progress,


we are reading.


Indeed at one point on the last day, after what appears to


be an extemporaneous


affabulation,


the narrator preempts


Angle's comment saying,


"Et ne me dites pas que je devrais


mettre


cela


dans


Paludes.


D'abord,


est


d6ja "


(Ill,p. 125)

The narrator promotes our confusion of the two Paludes,


one


we


are


reading


and


one


writing,


constant references to


things he has seen,


heard or


just


written that should be included in Paludes; and of course,


in a very obvious sense,


in a few very


they are.


important aspects.


Yet the two texts differ

The frame narrative is


written in the first person while the fragmentary narrative


within


told


third


person.


The


first


person


narrator


has no name,


but the


protagonist


third


person narrative is named Tityre, a character borrowed from


174 .a...*1 I *~ 4- -S 1 S a .....~* .3.31 a ...C a -


tt f t 1 I n A -*


I -


rF!L













How


completely


different


setting of


frame


narrative--an urban landscape full of movement and lively


conversation.


The narrator never seems to stop moving, from


his


apartment


the street,


to Angle's


apartment,


someone's salon, and back again to his own apartment.


There


is a constant stream of brief visits by or to the narrator


and


there


are constant digressions


from his


discourse.


However


both


versions


Paludes,


for


all


their


differences,


give


the same


impression- -the


inutility of


action.


narrator's


Despite


claim


the agitation of


that he writes


the frame narrative,


in order to act and his


exhortations to his colleagues to change their habits, what


see


an endless


repetition of the same actions and


words. The story of Tityre is a transposition of the vicious


circle of


the narrator's existence in the literary scene


into a landscape of monotony.


The narrator writes


down an agenda each evening of


things to do the following day, but his lists are bizarre in


that


they


rarely


involve


concrete


actions


and


tend


accentuate the narrator's objectification of self (s'dtonner

de, penser a, s'inqui6ter de, tAcher d'avoir). He begins the


second day by


looking


at his


list of


things


to do and


. .


a~l CLn 4 .1 a. 4-l 1. ai nr -E a.~w ~ aA 1 4 .1.4. .a A a.


k"-^ h^ il J^ h b ^ i ^ *













give him "des id6es morales. "


(III,p.96)


This said, he has


no compunction about ignoring items on the list or modifying


them


fit


his


impulses.


The


distance


between


intentions and his actions sets the text in an ironic mode

which is made all the more obvious by the triviality of his


agenda items and his


lengthy moral rationalization of


function of such lists.


So he finds written in his agenda for the


"ticher de


second day,


lever a six heures," and beside it he writes,


"lev6 A sept." (III,p.96) He calls the difference 'l'imprivu


ndgatif.


Two days


later,


his agenda qua moral


calendar


reaches absurd proportions. He arises at eight,


sees


on the


agenda "tAcher de


lever a six heures,"


crosses


it out and


writes


instead,


"tAcher de


lever b onze heures,"


then


goes back to bed.


Unable to sleep, he nevertheless refuses


out of self-discipline to arise before the newly appointed

hour. (III,p.128)

He also finds noted in his list for the second day that


should


think


about


individuality


of his


friend


Richard and


says,


illogically,


"Je m'appretais


penser a


1'individualit6 de Richard." (III,p.97) He begins by pulling


out a file


that he


keeps


on Richard who,


that very


we ,. fl 4-*% Ylte r tA n a ~rnmel n *- U-lt l -l* l4 -.. 4 ne n


nJrv ^ 4i rn ^- nt1 r^ + ^ ^


m A OI II II C













narrator's notes on Richard.


It is as if he were called to


life


by the


text to concretize


the narrator's


incongruous


phrases, giving an impression of repetitive absurdity.

Richard's presence quickly turns out to be more of a


hindrance


narrator


than a


help ,


writes,


"J'6tais ladgrement ennuy4 ne pouvant bien penser aux gens


en leur presence."


(III,p.99) This comical situation points


a serious


esthetic


principle,


necessary distance


between


narrator and his subject.


The narrator


later


says


that the


third person is


the one who


is absent;


subsequently


, in


conversation


with


group


intellectuals at Angele's party, he defines the third person

as the 'normal' man, generalized man who resembles everyone

equally. In fact, this is the very subject of his novel.


Paludes


c'est


l'histoire du


terrain


neutre


qui


est


tout


1'histoire de la troisibme personnel


parle
nous.


mond
cell


--qui vit en chacun et qui ne meurt p
(IIIp.116)


e don't on


avec


Tityre


essence


this


third


person-- faceless,


malleable ,


content


and


absent


never


speaks)


narrator tells AngBle that Tityre


modeled after Richard,


9a 4 .. an 1rn ,, I r. anvk lnnn a n iI n 4 nf e n 4 ,ra 4 an n i na a C n













phenomenological


leitmotif of presence/absence


throughout


the novel.


There


is another playful reference


to repetition and


inutility in a scene that takes place just before Angele's

party in the stairwell of her building. As the narrator sits


on a


bench


composing


letter,


man


whom


addressed arrives and,


without having read the note,


sits


down to write a response.


Their first exchange concerns the


idea


'ignorance


is bliss,


' but they draw diametrically


opposed conclusions. The second exchange of notes begins, in


each


case,


with an example of a mistranslated Latin


text.


But whereas


narrator


uses


his


example


show


necessity of lucidity to achieve true happiness, his friend


Martin uses


his example


to demystify the notion of moral


necessity.

respective


Finally,


in their third and last exchange,


notes coincide perfectly:


"Plus


their


j'y rdfldchis,


plus


trouve


ton


example


stupid,


car


enfin


This


unlikely parallelism


thought


and


expression


totally


undermines


seriousness


subject--individual liberty and moral necessity. There is no

progression in this dialogue of notes, only an accumulation


tangents.


The


first exchange of notes recalls Plato's


*v ar it ar n n fl t4 So* 4 L - -- t S .-


--T. A_, -l t


M


(II ,p. 115)


I


/ Q 1TQ


f


T













(III,p.114) However absurd the context,


this is one of the


central


questions


awareness and


text- the


implications


consequences of self


it has


for the self and


others.


Whereas Martin argues for passive resignation,


narrator proposes freedom through an act of will. It is also

an argument about the philosophical notion of contingency


and the philosopher,


Alexandre,


arrives at the end of


exchange


say


the narrator,


"Rattachez-vous a


tout,


Monsieur, et ne demandez pas la contingence; d'abord vous ne


1'obtiendrez


pas- -et puis:


a quoi


Ca vous


servirait-il?"


(I The distance between the narrator' intention,p 115)

The distance between the narrator's intentions and his


actions


is perhaps most apparent near the end of the text


when he and AngBle decide to take a trip to get away from


the

days

effe<


stagnant self-complacency of their

of planning and with great hopes


cts


their absence,


milieu


they never make


u. After two

the curative


it any further


than the train station. But the narrator is not discouraged

and rationalizes the setback into a victory


est a


ssez


heureux,


apres


tout,


que


petit voyag


instruire.
un voyage
1 I A A,, 4.4


e ait ratd--pouvant ainsi mieux vous


1


e plaisir que nous peut procurer


n'est qu' accessoire.
4. -w ^ -t 4 o 4


g l l nh I f. I 1


On voyage


pour













In the end,


and Roland who


it is Hubert,


leave on a long trip


the narrator's best friend,


to North Africa.


narrator is


left to his habits and futile repetitions.


immediately begins to worry about how he is going to replace

Hubert's regular six o'clock visits and, as Paludes comes to


a close,


we find him once again sitting in his room


the opening scene.


A friend enters and finds him writing.


When


inquires,


just


beginning,


what


narrator


writing,


told,


"J' cris


Polders."


(III,p.146)


The whole farcical


text has come back to its


point


departure,


leaving the reader with


a feeling of


infinite repetition.


Paludes is,


to say the least,


an enigmatic text,


full


linguistic


and


logical


paradoxes.


constantly


undermining


reliability


narrator,


Gide


decentered the text.


The reader is invited to find his own


truth between


lines.


Indeed,


in a short preface


Paludes, the author writes,


si nous savions


que nous voulions dire,


nous ne savons pas si nous ne disions que


cela


On dit


toujou


plus que CELA.--Et


sur


tout m'y int~resse,


savoir,


- -ce


tte


c'est
part


ce que j'y ai mis
d'inconscient. at


sans


voudrais appeler la part de Dieu.


(III,p.89)













encountered considerable


success and was read and commented


widely,


Paris


albeit


somewhat


literary scene.19


restrained circle of


Gide's contemporaries were


greatly


impressed by this unusual


and masterful


farce.


Camille


Mauclair wrote in the Mercure de France,


je crois bien que depuis Laforgue personnel


n'avait


eu cette


paisiblement


fagon exquisement dd


pret


aux


larmes


lassitude de l'ordinaire et du prdvu


ses


p6ree et


trahir
20


And in an anonymous note in the Figaro of July 17

reference is to Sterne


, 1895, the


Fantaisie


dessus de toute


d'un
s cho


esprit


ses


z616,


qui


sans s'y poser


vole


au-


, un peu


la fagon de Sterne, avec des points d'ironie, de


critique et des Blans de poet


On n'analyse guere


plus un
parfum;
la parol


livre c


omme celui-la qu'on n'explique un


ce sont 1I choses trop subtitles pour que
e suffise A en donner l'impression.21


But perhaps it is Mallarm6 who, in a letter to Gide, sums up

best the impression left by Paludes.


fais


pas


allusion


d' abord


goutte aigrelette et prdcieuse d'ironie qui tient


cent


pages,


elle


est


d'essence


unique;


m


ii I fF 01,.. nr 4I>-4 n' n1 -4 _. 1


.ais


ne


votre


ail^Vfi~t~i -l













Though


the critics were


not equal


their praise,


Paludes made a stir in the Parisian literary community and


Gide's parody of


for considerable polemic.


replace


the salons and cenacles was


Lfon Blum,


the occasion


whom Gide was soon to


literary critic for the Revue Blanche,


saw in


this


strange novel


a major


statement not only of Gide's


esthetic,


saw it


but of a changing esthetic in his generation. He

a novel heralding a new sensitivity.


Paludes,


richesse


dans


gai roman de
la monotonie


l'ennui,


livre de


ou 1'uniformitd du


recit


incroyable


la pensee
abondance


est


varlee


par


une


d'observation


d'imagination psychologique


changent;


Les gdndrations


celle-ci n'est plus romanesque,


r6cit


intime et difficile de


Paludes a bien pu


Atre son Werther. Chaque jour la verra se ddtacher
de 1'homme vers la nature et vers 1'id6e 23


Leon Blum astutely points to one of the major influences on


Gide's esthetic at that time,


Goethe,


who was to remain a


model for Gide's subsequent work.


Blum may have found the


references


Goethe


Gide's


1897


"Postface


pour


deuxibme edition de Paludes et pour annoncer Les Nourritures


Terrestres


which


Gide,


contrary


his


original


preface, attempts to explain the genesis and meaning of his


r. .


S- *


a- 4


nfl n n n r n nt.a ns lk n~e N rn rs n nr nn .a'. an F '4 rrr r I


L*


1













on Human Understandint.


Paludes,


we read,


marked a feeling


of stagnation in a closed literary milieu and a desire to


bannir


soulever
d~polies
' Autre


pour u
rideaux,


qui


qui


tout


tout


long
ouvrir


temps
, briser


livres,


les vitres


s 'paissit entire nous et


ternit


nature,


harmoniser 4
1' optimism
temperament
Goethe et ]
(III,p.1476)


enfin sa vie


6perdu
d'abord,
a lente


ses


I' avaient


puis


ensues, selon
conduit son


son admiration pour


meditation


Leibnitz.


And


in a


letter


his


mother


shortly


before


publication of Paludes,


Gide recommends Goethe


to her in


these terms:


. 1'extraordinaire some de folie que cet


homme raisonnable entire tous put absorber,


neutraliser


faire sienne et


"24 It is Goethe's receptivity to the world


of sensations that Gide admires and would emulate. His long

meditation of Leibnitz had lead him to re-evaluate the worth

of an individual idea as opposed to a universal truth. In an

1894 entry in his Journal, Gide writes


Certains


Leibnitz,


confondent iddes et v6rit6s


Nouveaux


Essais)


verites


(voir
sont


touj ours bonnes;


montrer.


idles souvei


L' on dirait que 1'idde


nt dangereuses A
est la tentation


v6rit


II n'est pas


bon


tenter


autres; Dieu envoie a chacun des tentations selon


S.


SA --* r


nf^ .. %-n- *n, A -- t











75

the novel. One of the two phrases cited is, "Ii faut porter

jusqu' la fin toutes les idees qu'on souleve." (III,p.149)

In his 1897 "Postface" Gide commented on this choice


voil&


sujet


mon


livre


'es


1'histoire d'une id6e plus que 1'histoire de quoi


que


soit


d'autr


c'est


I 'histoir


maladie


qu 'elle


cause


dan


tel


esprit


(III,p.1478)



He then goes on to compare the idea to a cancer that takes


over the body


, to a seed that becomes a majestic tree and to


the kingdom of God.


From


these


comments


one


can


see


that


extreme


receptivity of


the author to his


intellectual


environment


gives birth to and nourishes the idea around which the text


constructed.


The


idea is


ordering principle


that


governs the logic of narrative development much more than do


concerns of verisimilitude. Therefore, in Paludes, it


logic of boredom and stagnation


that


dictates narrative


form--repetition,


digression and circularity. But one might


conclude


from


these comments


that Gide was


promoting a


didactic literature.


To disabuse his readers of this notion


he goes a step further to express an esthetic principle that

n ~,,, ae a oaAa o1 9 .













J'aime qu'il porte en lui de quol


supprimer lui-meme


nier,


(III,p.1479)


It is this dialectical tension between subject and


object, inscribed within the text,


that gives Paludes its


enigmatic quality and assures its enduring modernism beyond

the topical parody of the Parisian literary milieu. To

create this dialectical tension between subject and object

Gide has recourse to a narrative form that he calls a

"construction en abyme." He writes


J 'aime


assez


qu'en une oeuvre d'art,


retrouve


ainsi


transpo


'dchelle


des


personnages, le sujet m&me de cette oeuvre. Rien
ne 1'6claire mieux et n'4tablit plus surement
toutes les proportions de 1'ensemble. (JAG I,p.41)



He gives a series of examples of this interior duplication

to illustrate his idea. He mentions Memling and Quentin

Metzys, whose paintings contain convex mirrors reproducing

the pictural space from within; the Velasquez painting Las


Meninas, in which one


sees


the painter painting; literary


works such as Hamlet, Wilhelm Meister and The Fall of the


House of Usher,


all


of which contain autoreferential


narratives; and his own works, AndrB Walter, Narcisse and













in Les Faux-Monnaveurs,


thirty years later.


I shall explore


this


narrative


procedure


depth


later


chapter.


Suffice


it to say here


that one of


the primary functions


that Gide ascribes to the mise en abyme is the engagement of


the reader in the psychological development of the novel


a dialogic process of becoming.


"Cette r4troaction du sujet


sur


lui -mime


m'a


touj ours


tent4


C'est


roman


psychologique typique." (JAG I,p.41)

In other words the structure of the work of art would,


in this way,


represent the structure of human consciousness


--the subject's awareness of self as an object of thought.


This


translates


radical


subjectivity in Gide's early


works mentioned in the passage above.


Jean Rousset


says


Gide's Narcisse, for instance


Ce Narcisse gidien


est lui aussi aquarelliste;


son


regard


compo


les miroitements


colors


proj&te sur la toile vide du monde


ce


qu'il
n'est


pas


son effigie qu'il


regarded dans


e miroir,


c'est


tout


le visible


qui,


tournant autour de


cette conscience devenue
pensee partout refl6tee.


But Gide's


away from his


'centre'


lui montre


own logic of retroaction eventually


idealist position because


leads him


surely


A-1_ t A 1


---------- -1


- -I-


T- n itlm a 4 cr a- r nnr T.Y f^ 1 a __ if r n r ha


Erll^ Ar^^- / a af A V~ a r a~ ^1 n ^\ nl a *V


h xa












decentering the


subj active


presence


in the


text through


duplication,


but also by representing the subtle dialectic


between interior and exterior. Maurice Nadeau writes,



En tant qu' me promise A Dieu il avait v4cu


dans


s nuees


redescendant sur terre,


faut d4couvrir le fait d'exister
dans le monde) a travers le 'fa


qui est exister
it de conscience'


61mentaire qui assoit dans un unique phenomene le
sujet et 1'objet: la sensation.26



Paludes paved the way for les Nourritures terrestres and the


author's


materialist conversion which Nadeau goes on to


describe in these terms



Par les sens le monde existe; par la sensation il


est


pr~hens ible,


connaissable


rapport de participation.


, a


travers


L'excitation appelle la


reaction qui,
stimuli 27


A son


tour ,


suscite


nouveaux


Les


Nourritures


terrestres,


announced


1897


"Postface" to Paludes as the author's conversion to a more


materialist vision,


critique


a hymn to sensual


of bourgeois mentality.


pleasure and a


By his own account Gide


wanted


"pr4cipiter


sensualisme


d'ou elle ne


litterature


puisse


dans un abime de


sortir que compl&tement











79

reactions to this unusual work and the literary context in

which it first appeared


Quand ont paru mes Nourritures,


plein Symbolisme;


j'ai


cru que


1'art


on dtait en
courait de


grands
natural


risques &


sdparer ainsi r6solument du


vie.


Mais


mon


livre


dtait


beaucoup


trop


natural


pour


point


paraitre


factice A ceux qui n'avaient plus de gott que pour


artificiall


prdcis6ment


parce


qu' il


s' chappait de la littdrature


que


quite


sse


nce


, on n'y vit d'abord
la littdrature.


(III,p.1486)


Although


this book was amply criticized and certainly


did not achieve the commercial success that Gide would have


liked,


did


find


admirers,


particularly


among


young


writers of the time,


and received favorable reviews in the


avant-garde press.28 Contrary to Gide's own assertions, his

break with Symbolism was very much in tune with the esthetic

aspirations of a new generation. Edmond Jaloux, writing for


the Marseille


daily L'Inddpendance


rdpublicaine,


declared


Mdnalque,


protagonist of Les Nourritures terrestres,


to be


the new Werther or Rend of the

profound optimism and love for


going


coming century.


life in


He saw a


this unique work,


to glorify it in these terms:


sais


nombreux esprits qui ont 6td bouleversds par Les Nourritures











80

vision of human existence and an awareness of others. In an

1897 letter to his Belgian friend AndrB Ruijters Gide writes


Crois bien que


qui mange mon Je n'est pas


seulement mon idbe. Si Je suis moins, c'est aussi
que je m'interesse toujours plus aux autres.30


This change in perspective


is marked by a seven year


hiatus of journal entries. Gide had come to


see


Journal


narcissistic


device


that


lead


him


obsessive


introspection and prevented a more genuine contact with the


world around him.


traveled extensively in North Africa


and, most significantly recovered from a terrible bout with


tuberculosis.


In fact,


he came


see


illness


wellspring of his art;


the uneasiness and difference from


others that one feels through illness produces a feeling of


disequilibrium and a search for a new order:

propose a 1'homme une inquietude nouvelle, qu


"La maladie


'il s'agit de


16gitimer." (JAG 1,98)


previously


stated,


although


Nourritures


terres trees


represented a radical break with contemporary


ideas


of literature and particularly with


the Symbolists,


Gide was not merely a voice crying out in the desert. His

a~r~ al 1.r a a a -1 a 1r a- St a 31.. a. a S, - -L -


Les













Saint-Pierre.


They


published


harsh


criticism


Symbolists,


especially Mallarm4 and Henri


de REgnier,


called for


a return


nature,


to an expression of


senses


rather


than


intellect.


They


expressed


great


admiration for Gide and his long- time friend Francis Jammes.

Gide found much to agree with in the Naturist movement, but


was


bothered by the unbridled attacks against R4gnier and


Mallarme.


Bouhdlier,


with


the help of Emile Zola,


published a


manifesto of Naturism in the January


1897


issue of Le


Figaro in which he defined the esthetic principles of


new movement as an amor fati of the material world.



Au lieu d'dvoquer de charmantes et de suaves


seigneur
fetes d


s chim6riques,
e 1 homem.


nous chanterons les hautes


Pour


splendeur


spectacle,
les 6toiles,


es podtes convoqueront les plants,
les vents et les graves animaux. Une


litt&rature naitra qui glorifiera les marines, les
laboureurs nes des entrailles du sol et les
pasteurs qui habitent pres des aigles.31


But


Gide


could


find


common


ideas


this


introduction,


one


can only


imagine his reaction


to what


followed and which Claude Martin correctly qualifies as,

". sans ambiguity, une morale xenophobe, une esth4tique













defigure 1'esprit de la race


"33 At this point, without


publicly denouncing the Naturists,


Gide nevertheless


began


distance himself from their movement.


But despite his


very tentative involvement with this movement and subsequent


denial


their


esthetic


principles,


his


Nourritures


terrestres came to be seen as the only true Naturist work.


naturisme,


comme


le crois,


n'est


qu'une
retour
nature


revendication


aux


theories


droit


conception
le la vie,


plus


par


individualistes


lyrisme,
large de


opposition aux
u mystiques,


1'affirmation d'une sorte de pantheisme a la fois
r4aliste et moral, alors 1'oeuvre de Gide est bien


une oeuvre naturiste,
nommer au premier rang
nommer au premier rang.


faudra


Once again,


and despite Gide's


affirmations


contrary, he had crystallized the new esthetic concerns of a


rising


generation


writers.


But


if Les


Nourritures


terrestres


illustrates perfectly the


thrust of


new


Naturist esthetic, it also contains structural elements that

continue to appear as leitmotifs in his subsequent works.

The two structural elements in question for the purpose

of this study have been mentioned in connection with Gide's


earlier works and will be discussed at length


in a later


- U- ---~ f - n- -'I ~ -S -- ~ L


m 4


I _


I


zl rr.., r.











83

Nourritures terrestres by inserting "Le R6cit de Mdnalque."


Gide


regretted


previous


publication of


this


text


excerpted form and originally planned not to include it in


the final version. He finally did so, at least in part,

add this extra narrative dimension to his work.35


The


second


structural


element


best


resumed


Francis Jammes in a letter he sent to Gide immediately after


publication of Les Nourritures


terrestres


in which he


writes:


"Chacune


tes


pens6es


portrait


elle,


DIRECTEMENT,sa


propre


refutation.


.36


Gide's


text


continually undermined by a vacillating point of view as the


narrator


balances


affirmation with negation--success may


also be a type of failure, goodness may also be evil, good


intentions


may


disguise


selfish motives.


This


play


opposites maintains a narrative tension throughout the text


and prevents


it from becoming didactic,


it would by


offering simplistic moral lessons.

Finally, although at first glance a disordered text of

lyrical effusion, Les Nourritures terrestres is, like Gide's


other works, carefully and purposefully assembled,


Claude


Martin demonstrates. 37


Henri


GhBon,


soon


to become one of


Gide's closest friends and collaborators, was one of the few


- ,.t A- -- -A --- .. _. -1 t r


t





1


I


I~











84

d'avoir su developper une thbse philosophique avec
un tel lyrisme, et de nous avoir offert une oeuvre


complete


triomphent


tous


dons que nous


avions admires un a un,
livres.38


dpars dans chacun de


ses


The intimate tone of this book engages the reader to enter


the


subj active


world


the


narrator s


thoughts


and


sensations, but also demands that he shed his traditionally


anonymous


and


passive


reader'


role.


asked


participate actively in the deciphering of the narrative, to


use it for his own purposes and go beyond. Already,


in the


preface


Paludes,


the author called upon his


reader to


explain his text to him.




Un livre est toujours une collaboration,


tant plus le livre vaut-il


, que plus


la part du


scribe y est petite
revelation des chosi


Attendons de partout la
es; du public, la rtvdlation de


nos oeuvres. (III,p.89)




Gide's Readers


The idea of reader participation was always a concern


of Gide's


and he was


often disappointed not only by the


frequent misinterpretation of his works,


but also by the


- -. -- r __ -- 1- .


__ I


__ 1













previously mentioned,


Gide


did have


substantial


and


sympathetic readership. But he was rarely satisfied with the


reactions of his readers.


Throughout his career he readily


responded to any criticism in the press. It is certain that

he didn't expect his works to be great commercial successes

and, happily, he didn't depend on the sales of his works for

his livelihood, but he remained acutely aware of the public

reaction to his writing.

In two brilliant lectures given in Brussels in 1900 and

in Weimar in 1903, Gide discusses the role of the artist in


relation


literary


tradition


and


relation


his


readers.


The first,


called De 1'influence en litterature,


revolved around two basic ideas: first, influence isn't good

or bad in any absolute sense, only in relation to the person


influenced


and


second,


impossible


avoid


influence.


(OC III,p.250)


the contrary,


truly


great


individual


need not fear


losing his personality through


influence; he should be receptive to it.


Un grand home n'a qu'un souci:


devenir


plus
BANAL.


human


possible,


Devenir banal,


--dison


Shakespeare,


mieux:


banal


DEVENIR
Goethe,


Molibre


devient


, Balzac,


Tolstoi


le plus personnel.


. c'est ainsi qu'il
Tandis que celui qui


fuit


1'humanit6


pour


lui-meme,


n'arrive


qu'A


t 4 -.-


p t r


.1 vT on vn 4 4 ar F n l -r


nnrt rn ny ^" t ^^^yr'^^^lui^











86

certain sense, only in virtual form before finding its place


the mind of


a reader;


but


the artist


bears


a heavy


responsibility for the influence of his


ideas.


To relieve


him of the torment of this responsibility he needs the help

of a group


Chez


1'artiste


, souvent,


soumission


d autrui


qu' i11


obtient


causes


tres


diff4rentes


mot


pourrait,


crois


, les


resumer: il ne se suffit pas & lui-meme.


II a besoin d'adjoints,


Ii influence:


de substitute


d'autre


de secretaires.


s vivront et joueront pour


i ses id6e
sa place.


s; risqueront le danger de les experimenter
(OC III,p.262)


important


to note


this


series of dialectical


opposition in Gide's esthetic. In the discussion of Paludes

and of Les Nourritures terrestres I pointed out the dynamic


nature of writing and reading,


that is,


the retroactive


influence of the work on its author and the reader's active


role


interpretation.


Here one may see


the relationship


broadened to indicate the mutual influence of the writer and


literary


community


writer's


work


inscribed


within the tradition of literary production.


Gide makes it


clear


in his


1903


lecture


in Weimar,


1' importance du


public (OC IV,p.181-197), that


the writer cannot ignore his











87

Auguste Angl&s synthesizes these two lectures well.



Ces deux conferences complementaires sont une


profession
bienfaits


de
de


en


n6cessit6


1'interaction.


en


L'4crivain


les
doit


s'ouvrir aux influences et influence A son tour;
Goethe a 4t6 bonnifid par la cour de Weimar autant


qu'ili


ses


1'a dduquee;


l'artiste qui s'isole,


contemporains condamnent & 1'isolement,


ou que
verse


dans


l'extravagance


ou s' tiole.


Lorsque Gide


languit apr&s un public, ce n'est pas une action a


sens


unique


qu 'il


ambitionne:


souhaite


retour Otre modifi6.


ii salt qu'entre autrui


et lui
etre 40


joue


l'avenir


son


talent,


de son


The reader Gide had in mind was an enlightened friend


and,


indeed,


Claude Martin remarks that Gide always seemed


to need a closely knit group of friends,


in whom he could


confide and whose judgment he could trust.41 Gide had begun

collaborating with various literary journals quite early in


his


career


and,


near the


end of


century,


was a


frequent contributor to


La Revue Blanche and L'Ermitage,


among others.


He was easily persuaded to contribute pieces


to new,


often short-lived


journals,


but was reluctant to


become


identified with any particular group.


Although he


greatly valued his independence, he did seem to need a solid

support group, as previously stated, and often attempted to

a1.9













periodically discussing political,


philosophical and moral


problems.


also


showed


great


sensitivity


these


articles to foreign authors still largely unknown in France,


such as Nietzsche,


Tolstoy,


Dostoevsky


and Dickens.


encouraged the translation and diffusion of foreign works in


France


time


when


more


established


critics


were


proposing nationalistic and at times even racist criteria

for literary selection.

At a time when polemic often became grossly insulting,


Gide


sought a higher ground for criticism,


often praising


the work of those with whom he disagreed fundamentally. His


treatment of Les


D6racin6 s


by Maurice


Barres


is a good


example of his method.


respect,


He treated BarrBs with the greatest


praising his brilliant style and imagery as well as


his character portrayal. He expressed unqualified agreement

with the importance of the problem treated by Barrds but, in


the end,


found two basic faults: a heavy-handed ideological


bent that bordered on the didactic and a misunderstanding of

the true dilemma that his characters faced. Gide maintained


that


in fact,


novel


clearly


demonstrated the exact


opposite of Barrbs' stated thesis.


Putting aside


the question of


the validity of Gide's


-9 ~--.., .9 .9 9 I I- I 0


I













the author can,


through a close reading, be reversed. It is


through such subtle and objective critiques that Gide became


known


and


respected


new


voice


the


literary


community.

Gide's judgment of Barrbs is symptomatic of his view of

much of contemporary French literature which he found to be


stagnating within


confines


strictly


defined


ideology


national


consciousness


and


middle


class


morality.


It was


time,


felt,


like


the protagonist of


Paludes,


to open all the windows and doors to let in fresh


air .


With


idea of promoting new ideas in literature,


foreign and domestic,


Gide began making plans


to create a


literary journal with a closely knit group of friends.


result of their association was the Nouvelle Revue Francaise


which soon became a


forum for new ideas and continually


refused to be co-opted by political or religious movements.

The various contributors maintained their independent voices

and, despite inevitable clashes of opinion, they continually

offered their readers the best in new writing and criticism.


A list of early


contributors to


the N.R.F.


reads


like


Who's Who of 20th century French literature and criticism,

though at the time these authors were largely unknown.


S S -- S -- n













analysis


current trends.


Auguste Angles writes of his


impressions on reading the early issues of the N.R.F.


d'une curiosity en veil,


d'une riflexion


murie


pourtant


enthousiaste


, d'une


ample


conversation qui


va


diversifiant &


travers


maintes


incidents,


que de


grands


themes relient


et dominant. leur promptitude A faire surgir
un probleme gn4Bral.43


The poised


judgment of the editorial board and


'regulars'


came


perhaps


from


years


informal


conversations


and


elective affinities that brought them together. The strength

of their common project was then evident in the style and

presentation of their journal.


Three unifying themes


that Angles finds


in the early


issues of the journal are, 1) classical qualities


opposed


romantic


aberrations,


classicism as


the only true


expression


the


French


genius


and


value


psychological and moral exploration.44 The debate with the


different


'chapelles '


of Paris was engaged on far-reaching


questions and,


though the attacks and responses sometimes


degenerated into sterile posturing, they forced attention to

be focused on the nature of current French literature and

its place within history.











91

literature' by pointing to the fundamental ambiguity of any

such definition. Over the course of these three articles, he

gradually abandoned the questions of national literature and

classicism to lead his readers toward a more subtle vision

of literary works, to be viewed in terms of their individual


coherence


rather


than


expressions


sound moral


principles.45

It is in this sense that we understand Gide's repeated

request that his own works be judged only for their esthetic


qualities.


Many


of his


contemporaries


focused


their


attention exclusively on the moral implications of a text

and their incursions into questions of form served only to

define the author as part of a particular literary tradition

which in turn led them back to moral concerns of national

character. It should be evident from Gide's own criticism as


well


from his


fiction


that he


was not opposed


to a


discussion of ethical principles represented by the various


voices


in a text,


but he did oppose a superficial reading


that


reduced


all


the


voices


one


and


ignored


complexities of narrative structure and ironic distancing.



A Mosaic of Novels













during


two decades preceding Les Faux-Monnayeurs.


intention here


is not to formulate extensive analyses of


these


fictional


works themselves,


but rather to highlight


certain aspects


regarding narrative


technique,


modes of


irony and the mediation of experience in novelistic form.


One


hesitates


speak


evolution


Gide's


esthetic ideas because he himself argued explicitly against

such an interpretation of his works. He claimed, on several

occasions, to have conceived the whole of his works from the


beginning,


and


there


exists


solid corroborative evidence


from his friends and acquaintances. As Auguste Angles


says,


n'a


cesse


revendiquer


son appartenance


1'ordre du simultand."46 In one of his famous


"Billets &


AngHle" Gide claims to have conceived all of his fictional


works


from L'Immoraliste


through La Symphonie pastorale


before


the


age


thirty.


(III,p.1582)


This


seems


contradict Gide's previously mentioned statements concerning

the dynamic relationship between an author, his work and his


public.


In order to reconcile


these


ideas of simultaneity


with dynamic interaction,


one must consider the context of


their utterance.

It is a particular characteristic of Gide's work that


-~~ ~~ a


I