Gide, André (1869–1951) By Geary Keohane, Elizabeth
André Gide (1869–1951) is frequently viewed as a pillar of modern French literature. From his early experimentations with Symbolism to the deeply confessional life writing that perhaps best defines his output, as encapsulated by his multi-volume Journal, Gide’s long and prolific career produced a wide variety of works. Gide himself was well aware of his constant tendency to hop among genres and themes, each new work always seeming to reject the preceding one. Perhaps the defining moment of Gide’s adult life occurred in Algiers in 1895 when, tantalized by the so-called exoticism of North Africa, and admitting his desire for the young male musician playing for the room, he came out. L’Immoraliste (The Immoralist, 1902), arguably his best-known work in the English-speaking world, focuses on Michel, who, finding a new zest for life, remains largely unapologetic for his sexual transgressions. From 1908 onwards, Gide held, as a founding member, a powerful editorial role at La Nouvelle Revue Française. Si le grain ne meurt (If It Die) and Corydon, both published in 1924, essentially revealed his homosexuality to his readership, while 1925 saw the publication of what is widely recognized as his greatest contribution to Modernism: the highly self-reflexive novel Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1947.