Gide, André äNdrā´ zhēd [key]
, 1869–1951, French writer. He established a reputation as an unconventional novelist with The Immoralist
(1902, tr. 1930), a partly autobiographical work in which he portrays a young man contravening ordinary moral standards in his search for self-fulfillment. In this and other major novels, including Strait Is the Gate
(1909, tr. 1924), Lafcadio's Adventures
(1914, tr. 1927), and The Counterfeiters
(1926, tr. 1927), Gide shows individuals seeking out their own natures, which may be at conflict with prevailing ethical concepts. Raised as a Protestant, Gide became a leader of French liberal thought and was one of the founders (1909) of the influential Nouvelle Revue française.
He was controversial for his frank defense of homosexuality and for his espousal of Communism and his subsequent disavowal of it after a visit to the Soviet Union. His voluminous writings, which include plays, stories, and essays, show great diversity of subjects and literary techniques. His use of myth to embody his thought is evident in such early satirical tales as Prometheus Misbound
(1899, tr. 1933). His Travels in the Congo
(1927, tr. 1929) and Retour du Tchad
(1928) helped bring about reform of French colonial policy in Africa. In 1947 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
See his autobiography, If It Die (tr. 1935, repr. 1957), and his journals (1889–1949), tr. and ed. by J. O'Brien (4 vol., 1947–51); studies by J. O'Brien (1953), J. Hytier (tr., 1967), V. Rossi (1967), G. D. Painter (rev. ed. 1968), A. J. Guérard (2d ed. 1969), and K. Mann (1978).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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