If it Die – Andre Gide

IID(We have not discussed this in the group but it was a ‘spin off’ from one of our meetings and this review is in a personal capacity.)

Gide has no time for notion that children are innocent. He talks about the bad things he did under the table with another boy. He is almost an apologist for the doctrine of original sin.

He loved his kaleidoscope and laments that children no longer have them. I did, much later on.

His childhood was lonely except for his mother’s governess, Anna, who always welcomed him and treated him as a humans being rather than a nuisance.

Like me, he wasn’t allowed to go to his own father’s funeral.

He asks his mother what an ‘atheist’ is and gets the reply ‘horrid and foolish’.

He observes that the French need to take sides, to belong to a particular party.

He is derided for getting full marks in school – this is often assumed to be a modern thing but, clearly, it isn’t.

Someone speaks of ‘domicilliary visits’. I have only ever heard that term once before, in 1978, from someone very pompous.

We get several boring pages about philosophy, art and poetry.

The person who had this copy before me pencilled in all sorts of ridiculous comments that made this book seem even more pompous. Some of his remarks are in French and some show that he knows little about Gide. For example, when Gide writes that he loathes virtue, the frantic scribbler adds a question mark.

Compared with other stuff that I’ve read by Gide, I found this somewhat boring.

Perhaps this comment says it all: Memoirs are never more than half sincere, however great one’s desire for truth; everything is-always more complicated than one makes out. Possibly even one gets nearer to truth in the novel

“In the name of what God or what ideal, do you forbid me to live according to my nature?…But I gradually came to wonder whether God really exacted such constraints, whether it was not impious to be in continual rebellion, whether such rebellion was not against Him.”

“but when Ali – that was my little guide’s name – led me up among the sandhills, in spite of the fatigue of walking in the sand, I followed him; we soon reached a kind of funnel or crater, the rim of which was just high enough to command the surrounding country”…”As soon as we got there, Ali flung the coat and rug down on the sloping sand; he flung himself down too, and stretched on his back”…”I was not such a simpleton as to misunderstand his invitation”…”I seized the hand he held out to me and tumbled him on to the ground.”

“I should say that if Wilde had begun to discover the secrets of his life to me, he knew nothing as yet of mine; I had taken care to give him no hint of them, either by deed or word.”…”No doubt, since my adventure at Sousse, there was not much left for the Adversary to do to complete his victory over me; but Wilde did not know this, nor that I was vanquished beforehand or, if you will”…”that I had already triumphed in my imagination and my thoughts over all my scruples.”

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