June 17, 2020 0 Comments

Last week, I noted that The Immoralist “caused a scandal” on its first publication in Which is the kind of thing you do when you get most of. Rereading Gide’s The Immoralist () recently that is indeed how I experienced the text. It is disturbing, upsetting even, to read. Why? In Homos in , Leo. I have been going through old classics on my shelves recently. A couple months ago, I re-read Albert Camus’ THE STRANGER and THE FALL.

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The Immoralist is based on Gide’s personal experience of discovering his homosexuality while traveling as a young man in North Africa. The Immoralist is narrated by Michel, a young man who describes his marriage to Marceline, a woman he hardly knew, and lays bare the developments of his inner life during the first few years of their marriage. While on an extended honeymoon in North Africa, Michel finds himself attracted to young Arab boys.

This experience inspires him to embark on a journey of self-discovery through which he eventually finds himself leading a double life: Back home in France, Marceline announces that she is pregnant. Meanwhile, Michel finds himself increasingly drawn to healthy and attractive young men. Becoming ill from tuberculosis, Marceline suffers a miscarriage.

Michel, motivated by a strong desire to return to North Africa, pushes her to travel with him, despite her deteriorating health. After she dies, Michel is left to grapple with the meaning of his own life, and to come to terms with his homosexual tendencies. The central theme of The Immoralist is repressed homosexuality. Gide’s narrative further explores themes of life versus death, mind versus body, and the process of self-discovery. When Gide was eleven, his father died of tuberculosis.

Soon after, Gide developed a predilection for faking illness, and was often kept home from school, receiving an uneven education from private tutors. Upon passing his baccalaureate examination at the age of twenty, he determined to devote his life to writing.

InGide made his first trip to North Africa, where he had his first homosexual experience. That year, he suffered from tuberculosis, though he soon recovered. Two years later, he returned to North Africa, where he met with the well-known homosexual Irish writer Oscar Wilde.

In important conversations with Wilde, Gide was encouraged to admit his homosexual tendencies to himself and his friends.

The Immoralist by Andre Gide | Quarterly Conversation

Gide’s trips to North Africa became the basis of The Immoralistin which Michel, the central character, travels twice to Algeria. The character of Menalque in The Immoralist is based on Wilde, and Michel’s late-night conversation with Menalque in which his friend hints at his homosexual tendencies is based on Gide’s discussions with Wilde.

Gide’s mother died in Soon gidee, he married his cousin, Madeleine Rondeaux. At the age of twenty-seven, Gide was elected mayor of La Roque, making him the youngest mayor in France.

The Immoralist by Andre Gide

The Immoralistone of Gide’s most important works, was first published in Like Michel in The ImmoralistGide struggled in his marriage with immmoralist of genuine love for his wife that conflicted with his homosexual inclinations and his strong need for immkralist freedom.

These tensions resulted in many years of estrangement between husband and wife. When she learned of Gide’s love affair with a young man inshe retaliated by burning all of his letters to her. InGide’s daughter, Catherine, was born to Elisabeth van Rysselberghe, a married woman with whom Gide had an extramarital affair.


However, Gide’s paternity of the child was kept secret from Madeleine. After a lengthy illness, Madeleine died in Gide’s lifelong concern with individual freedom lead him to advocate for the social, economic, and political liberty of oppressed peoples throughout the world, and he is remembered as a great humanitarian.

During World War Ihe worked for the Red Crossthen in a convalescent home for wounded soldiers, and later offered shelter to war refugees. During the s, he became an advocate for the oppressed peoples of colonized regions, immiralist well as for women’s rights and the humane treatment of criminals.

In he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Gide died in Paris on 19 Februaryat the age of eighty-one. Michel, the protagonist of The Immoralisthas spent his early adulthood as a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman cultures. He describes his marriage at the age of twenty-five to Marceline, a twenty-year-old woman whom he hardly knows. Shortly after their engagement, Michel’s father dies. The newlyweds travel on their honeymoon to North Africa, a region that at the time was colonized by the French.

During their travels, Michel becomes ill from tuberculosis. By the time they arrive in the city of Biskra, Algeria, he is gravely ill and close to death. Throughout his illness, Michel and Immorakist stay at a hotel in Biskra, where Marceline nurses him. Michel is so ill that he does not even leave immoralisf hotel room gidde a long immoarlist. As he begins to recover, Marceline brings Bachir, a local Arab boy, to play in Michel’s room and cheer gise up.

Reading group: A slap in the face from AndrĂ© Gide’s The Immoralist

Eventually, Michel recovers enough from his illness to go out for a walk with Marceline in a park near their hotel.

When they meet a group of local Arab boys in the park, Immoraliist feels that he would prefer to go there without his wife. He realizes that, as a scholar, he has been living the life of the mind, while neglecting his physical being. Finding a renewed sense of life and a new awareness of his physical senses, Michel determines to devote himself to improving his health.

As Michel’s health continues to improve, he begins to take walks alone among the orchards of a nearby oasis, where he meets and befriends more Arab boys.

Reading group: A slap in the face from AndrĂ© Gide’s The Immoralist | Books | The Guardian

He and Marceline begin to invite the Arab boys to their hotel lodgings to play and eat sweets. One day, Michel sees one of the boys, Moktir, steal a pair of his wife’s sewing scissors. Instead of reprimanding Moktir, or taking the scissors away from him, Michel lies to his wife about why the scissors are missing. After this incident, Michel finds that Moktir is his favorite of the children.

After staying in Biskra for several months, Michel and Marceline decide to leave. With his newfound health and excitement about life, Michel finds himself losing interest in his scholarly research.

While staying in Salerno, Michel spends many days off on his own exploring the area, leaving his wife behind at their hotel. He becomes very focused on his body and his physical health. He soon finds himself leading a double life. Away from his wife, he continues to focus on his newly emerging sense of self and renewed im,oralist about life.

In his wife’s presence, however, he presents a false persona as a loving and attentive husband. One day, Michel gets into a fight with a drunken ummoralist driver, who had been driving recklessly while Marceline was a passenger in the coach.

That night, two months after their wedding, Michel and Marceline make love for the first time. In the spring, the newlyweds return home to France. Michel becomes acquainted with Bocage, his estate manager. Michel becomes increasingly involved in the management of his estate. Marceline informs him that she is pregnant. In the fall, Michel and Marceline move back to Paris, where he begins his teaching post at the College de France. In Paris, Michel is bored by the demands of their social life.


One day, he meets Menalque, a former acquaintance, with whom he strikes up a friendship. Menalque explains that he has traveled to Biskra and met many of the Arab boys whom Michel had befriended while on his honeymoon.

One night, Menalque hands Michel the pair of scissors that Moktir had stolen from Marceline.

Michel arrives home that yide to find that Marceline has had a miscarriage and is gravely ill from tuberculosis. Marceline becomes more and more ill. Michel, meanwhile, spends more and more time with the peasants on his estate. He imkoralist joins Alcide, the youngest son of Bocage, in secretly poaching game on his own grounds. He finds himself immoralist by the lives of the peasants, particularly those whose behavior is morally questionable. Marceline becomes more and more ill, while Michel finds himself increasingly full of health and vigor.

They return again to Biskra. Michel cares for Marceline during the day, but after she goes to sleep, he goes out prowling the streets at night. He meets many of the children they had befriended two years earlier. However, the boys have become young men, and have gone on with their lives.

Some of them have married and found work, while others have become criminals and spent time in jail. Moktir, the boy who once stole the pair of scissors, has recently been released from prison.

Michel is disappointed that these boys have lost the health and freshness that had first drawn him to them. One night Moktir ommoralist Michel to a prostitute. Michel returns home from this encounter to find that Marceline is dying. After Marceline dies, Michel remains in Algeria for three months. During this time, he befriends an Arab boy named Ali. Ali eventually introduces Michel to his sister, who is a prostitute. Michel sleeps with Ali’s sister on several occasions.

However, Michel soon becomes bored of her, and feels gied Ali seems to be jealous, so he tells the girl he no longer wants to see her. Ali continues to spend time with Michel, and to do various errands for him, “in exchange for the odd caress. Michel’s response, which is the closing line of the novel, is “Perhaps she is not altogether wrong. When Michel learns that Bocage has been poaching on the estate, he decides to join the young man in secretly poaching on his own land.

Ali is a little Arab boy whom Michel befriends during his second visit to Biskra.

Ali introduces Michel to his sister, who is a prostitute. After Marceline dies, Michel sleeps with Ali’s sister several times, but soon notices that Ali seems to get jealous of his sister.

Michel thus decides to stop sleeping with the girl in order to maintain his relations with Ali. When Ali’s sister teases Michel that he is more interested in Ali than in her, Michel reflects, “Perhaps she is not altogether wrong.