The list of questions an author is asked inevitably includes which books most influenced them. Though they may start by trying to give an honest answer, writers ultimately treat it as a joke or lapse into endless speculation. We also come to realise that the answers we provide are far from objective or consistent, depending largely on when the question arises, on our age and sincerity. Influence moves and speaks in mysterious ways. But is this always the case?
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His father was of southern Huguenot peasant stock; his mother, a Norman heiress, although Protestant by upbringing, belonged to a northern Roman Catholic family long established at Rouen.
While in Rouen Gide formed a deep attachment for his cousin, Madeleine Rondeaux. Written, like most of his later works, in the first person, it uses the confessional form in which Gide was to achieve his greatest successes.
Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. Subscribe today In Gide paid his first visit to North Africa , hoping to find release there from his dissatisfaction with the restrictions imposed by his puritanically strict Protestant upbringing. One result of this nascent intellectual revolt against social hypocrisy was his growing awareness of his homosexuality. He satirized his surroundings in Marshlands , a brilliant parable of animals who, living always in dark caves, lose their sight because they never use it.
In October Gide married his cousin Madeleine, who had earlier refused him. Early in he was elected mayor of the commune of La Roque. At 27, he was the youngest mayor in France. He took his duties seriously but managed to complete Fruits of the Earth.
In the postwar generation, its call to each individual to express fully whatever is in him evoked an immediate response. His next tales mark the beginning of his great creative period. In these works Gide achieves a mastery of classical construction and a pure, simple style.
During most of this period Gide was suffering deep anxiety and distress. He called it not a tale but a sotie, by which he meant a satirical work whose foolish or mad characters are treated farcically within an unconventional narrative structure. This was the first of his works to be violently attacked for anticlericalism. In he returned to Cuverville, his home since his marriage, and began to write again.
Now, in a desire to liquidate the past, he began his autobiography , Si le grain ne meurt ; If It Die. After the war a great change took place in Gide, and his face began to assume the serene expression of his later years. By the decision involved in beginning his autobiography and the completion in of Corydon a Socratic dialogue in defense of homosexuality begun earlier , he had achieved at last an inner reconciliation.
He meant by this that in conception , range, and scope it was on a vaster scale than his tales or his soties. It is the most complex and intricately constructed of his works, dealing as it does with the relatives and teachers of a group of schoolboys subject to corrupting influences both in and out of the classroom.
In Gide set off for French Equatorial Africa. When he returned he published Voyage au Congo ; Travels in the Congo , in which he criticized French colonial policies. For a time it seemed to him that he had found a faith in Communism.
My mind and body were not my own until I read The Fruits of the Earth
Welcome everything that comes to you, but do not long for anything else. Long only for what you have. Let every moment renew your vision. The wise man is he who constantly wonders afresh. This unlearning was slow and difficult; it was more use to me than all the learning imposed by men, and was really the beginning of an education.
Fruits of the Earth
In , he became mayor of La Roque-Baignard , a commune in Normandy. In , Gide rented the property Maderia in St. This period, —07, is commonly seen as a time of apathy and turmoil for him. Gide and Marc fled to London, in retribution for which his wife burned all his correspondence — "the best part of myself," he later commented.