André Gide: A Life in the Present

Overview

One of the most important writers of the twentieth century, André Gide also led what was probably one of the most interesting lives our century has seen. Gide knew and corresponded with many of the major literary figures of his day, from Mallarmé to Oscar Wilde. Though a Communist, his critical account of Soviet Russia in Return from the USSR earned him the enmity of the Left. A lifelong advocate of moral and political freedom and justice, he was a proscribed writer on the Vatican's infamous "Index." ...

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Overview

One of the most important writers of the twentieth century, André Gide also led what was probably one of the most interesting lives our century has seen. Gide knew and corresponded with many of the major literary figures of his day, from Mallarmé to Oscar Wilde. Though a Communist, his critical account of Soviet Russia in Return from the USSR earned him the enmity of the Left. A lifelong advocate of moral and political freedom and justice, he was a proscribed writer on the Vatican's infamous "Index." Self-published most of his life, he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, at the age of 77. An avowed homosexual, he nonetheless married his cousin, and though their marriage was unconsummated, at 53 he fathered a daughter for a friend.

Alan Sheridan's book is a literary biography of Gide, an intimate portrait of the reluctantly public man, whose work was deeply and inextricably entangled with his life. Gide's life provides a unique perspective on our century, an idea of what it was like for one person to live through unprecedented technological change, economic growth and collapse, the rise of socialism and fascism, two world wars, a new concern for the colonial peoples and for women, and the astonishing hold of Rome and Moscow over intellectuals. Following Gide from his first forays among the Symbolists through his sexual and political awakenings to his worldwide fame as a writer, sage, and commentator on his age, Sheridan richly conveys the drama of a remarkable life; the depth, breadth, and vitality of an incomparable oeuvre; and the spirit of a time that both so aptly expressed.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times

A Life in the Present proves to be the best book on Gide I know...Certainly Sheridan's is the first book anyone interested in this author should consult after reading Gide's own work and—in the case of certain precariously 'sincere' Gidean texts, such as 'Corydon'—even before...Sensible and sympathetic, as well as powerful and politic.
— Richard Howard

Choice

Noted author and translator of works by Sartre, Lacan, and Foucault, Sheridan provides the most thorough literary biography since Gide's death in 1951...Writing in remarkable, accessible prose that leaves scarcely a stone unturned, Sheridan integrates Gide's life and fiction...Among the best treatments of Gide, this volume will be a point of departure for anyone interested in Gide or French literature.
— R. Merker

New Republic

[André Gide] far surpasses earlier biographies...The time was ripe to demonstrate Gide's intellectual legacy: to show how, in a career that bridged two centuries, the ground was laid for the subversive strategies of the nouveau roman and for the all-out war waged by ideologues such as Sartre and Foucault against 'patriarchal' institutions, above all the family...Alan Sheridan is an eloquent and perceptive writer...The book has many virtues, not least of them being Sheridan's ability to weave brief and penetrating essays on Gide's work into the chronicle of his restless days.
— Frederick Brown

Boston Globe

Paradoxically, it was left to an Englishman, Alan Sheridan, to write the first full-scale life of Gide. Sheridan has the credentials for the job—the mastery of two languages; the grasp of political and cultural as well as literary history; the patience; the sympathy; the sheer industry. He has assimilated all this material and handles it with easy familiarity, taste, and wit...He writes with insight about the life, the works, and their interconnections, and he can suddenly cut straight to the marrow...Sheridan has no ax to grind, no theory to impose; he allows us to share the pleasure he takes in Gide's company.
— Richard Dyer,

Virginia Quarterly
This is the first full literary biography to date of the extraordinary life of the French modernist author Gide. Sheridan does a particularly fine job of chronicling his notoriety in matters both sexual and political. Gide's leftist politics and his open homosexuality are shown to be deeply interwoven with his literary creations. The book provides an intimate look at a figure who was, at best, a reluctantly public individual. This will be of great interest to anyone interested in French letters and literary modernity.
Washington Times

[A] detailed and comprehensive biography of the great French and Nobel Prize-winning author of the Journals and The Counterfeiters...The biography moves chronologically—at the top of each recto page the reader can find out what year he's in—and we read what Gide does: the people he meets, the books he reads, what's on his mind, where he travels and by what means. It's as though we're living his life in the order that he lived and experienced it.
— Stephen Goode

Lambda Book Report

In André Gide, Sheridan does an admirable job of showing us why Gide should not be forgotten...It is the very essence of Gide, the man and the writer, to bravely defy expected norms of behavior in his principled search for truth and meaning. It is, Sheridan asserts, one of the reasons he remains such a compelling figure. Gide's constant traveling, his unflinching introspection, his cult of sincerity with always insisting he tell the absolute truth in his books, no matter the consequence, make him very much a person of our own times.
— Ulysses D'Aquila

Jerusalem Post

How does personal experience tie into Gide's literary odyssey in the realms of morality, religion, and politics? Sheridan, an experienced translator and literary commentator, eschews simplistic explanations, spiritual or materialistic, psychological, ideological or historical. General explanations, he claims, should be confined to particular circumstances in the course of human activities. This does credit to the complexity of the subject...Readers of [this] biography will have a fuller understanding of the actual models for characters in Gide's major works and even of some of the factual situations.
— Allan E. Shapiro

Commercial Appeal

The subtitle of Sheridan's biography, A Life in the Present, explains the exceptionally close focus with which he approaches his subject. Armed with encyclopedic grasp of Gide's life and works, including unpublished letters and journals that cast valuable light on his contradictory nature, Sheridan peers at Gide as through a microscope...The result is richly detailed and succeeds admirably in tying the life and work together.
— Fredric Koeppel

Dissent

One great virtue of Alan Sheridan's beautifully written new biography is that it does not try to claim Gide as a trophy for liberalism, modernism, or any other intellectual terrain...With great clarity and wit, and with a minimum of analytical fanfare, [Sheridan] brings us into the company of a particular life and a particular body of work. The miracle is that, in a volume of nearly three hundred thousand words, the narrative almost never becomes tedious.
— David Glenn

Boston Book Review

In his biography of Gide, Alan Sheridan has accomplished a magnificent feat. Whereas other biographers have been brought up short by the daunting intricacies of Gide's life, Sheridan does not shrink from recounting the full range of his subject's sexual escapades, musical knowledge, friendships, vexed marriage, Protestantism, affluence, and literary merits. Without interpreting the raw materials of Gide's life in a tendentious way, Sheridan shapes facts into coherent patterns. This is a biography worthily in the manner of Plutarch; the density of incidence never overwhelms the clarity of presentation.
— Allan Hepburn

ForeWord

Sheridan uses Gide's Journal (the book Gide said he would choose if only one could survive), forty volumes of letters, interviews and the novels themselves to build this outstanding biography. Sheridan's voice is clear in the narrative, and his personal comments and insights lighten the over 600 pages of chronological text. André Gide often reads like a novel. There are hilarious sections when an event is described in several different ways, in several different letters, to several different people. There are reading lists and journal entries; 'cruising' successes and failures; and synopses and interpretations of all his works...According to Sheridan, it is Gide's very un-French sincerity and the mysterious mix of curiosity and self-absorption that ensured the endurance and vitality of his work.
— H. Shaw Cauchy

The Independent on Sunday

Neither in English nor in French has there been a biography relating, in appropriate detail and depth, Gide's life and writings to each other...Happily this lack is now a thing of the past. Alan Sheridan has given us a biography as scrupulous and critically alert as it is lively and sympathetic...Alan Sheridan brings [Gide's relationships] to life with a multiplicity of detail and an empathy not only with Gide himself but with the others concerned.
— Paul Binding

Contemporary Review

Alan Sheridan's account is perhaps best in dealing with the critical moments of his subject's life. The meetings with Wilde; the acceptance, then world-shaking rejection, of Stalin, are narrated as if by an eye-witness.
— Geoffrey Heptonstall,

San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle

André Gide is a remarkable achievement. To portray adequately Gide's place in literary history is already an impressive feat...Sheridan guides his reader through Gide's varied literary output as well. He provides excellent accounts of the social and political activities Gide became involved in. Most important, Sheridan provides a frank and sympathetic account of Gide's personal life, as paradoxical as his public one.
— Michael Lucey,

Lesbian & Gay New York

The strength of Sheridan's biography is its relentless attention to Gide the man rather than Gide the novelist. Though Sheridan offers rather informed readings of each of Gide's works, he goes beyond his call in successfully fleshing out the man-in-the-world.
— Christopher Voigt,

The Brunswick Reader

An excellent new study...Reading Sheridan's biography gives some of the same pleasure you get from reading Gide's Journals, which appeared between 1939 and 1950, or his vast published correspondence...In absorbing a great deal of Gide's own distinctive voice, one is reminded both of Graham Greene's world-weariness and of Joseph Conrad's cosmopolitanism...One of the reasons to enjoy the book by Sheridan is that Sheridan is an English academic, not an American one, and even though Sheridan has been one of Michel Foucault's many translators, he doesn't write in the trendy jargon of postcolonial studies, using words like Otherness, upper case, or alternity; He simply accepts that colonialism was the dominant form of international trade and culture when Gide was doing his most important work.
— Douglas Fetherling

Literary Biography

Sheridan, who is a most careful and conscientious biographer, has amassed a remarkable amount of detail...[He] is both perceptive and restrained in his judgement that Gide has had much to say to several generations. Certainly he presents us with a most informative and detailed biography.
— Douglas Johnson

New Republic - Frederick Brown
[André Gide] far surpasses earlier biographies...The time was ripe to demonstrate Gide's intellectual legacy: to show how, in a career that bridged two centuries, the ground was laid for the subversive strategies of the nouveau roman and for the all-out war waged by ideologues such as Sartre and Foucault against 'patriarchal' institutions, above all the family...Alan Sheridan is an eloquent and perceptive writer...The book has many virtues, not least of them being Sheridan's ability to weave brief and penetrating essays on Gide's work into the chronicle of his restless days.
Boston Book Review - Allan Hepburn
In his biography of Gide, Alan Sheridan has accomplished a magnificent feat. Whereas other biographers have been brought up short by the daunting intricacies of Gide's life, Sheridan does not shrink from recounting the full range of his subject's sexual escapades, musical knowledge, friendships, vexed marriage, Protestantism, affluence, and literary merits. Without interpreting the raw materials of Gide's life in a tendentious way, Sheridan shapes facts into coherent patterns. This is a biography worthily in the manner of Plutarch; the density of incidence never overwhelms the clarity of presentation.
Washington Times - Stephen Goode
[A] detailed and comprehensive biography of the great French and Nobel Prize-winning author of the Journals and The Counterfeiters...The biography moves chronologically--at the top of each recto page the reader can find out what year he's in--and we read what Gide does: the people he meets, the books he reads, what's on his mind, where he travels and by what means. It's as though we're living his life in the order that he lived and experienced it.
Los Angeles Times - Richard Howard
A Life in the Present proves to be the best book on Gide I know...Certainly Sheridan's is the first book anyone interested in this author should consult after reading Gide's own work and--in the case of certain precariously 'sincere' Gidean texts, such as 'Corydon'--even before...Sensible and sympathetic, as well as powerful and politic.
San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle - Michael Lucey
André Gide is a remarkable achievement. To portray adequately Gide's place in literary history is already an impressive feat...Sheridan guides his reader through Gide's varied literary output as well. He provides excellent accounts of the social and political activities Gide became involved in. Most important, Sheridan provides a frank and sympathetic account of Gide's personal life, as paradoxical as his public one.
Boston Globe - Richard Dyer
Paradoxically, it was left to an Englishman, Alan Sheridan, to write the first full-scale life of Gide. Sheridan has the credentials for the job--the mastery of two languages; the grasp of political and cultural as well as literary history; the patience; the sympathy; the sheer industry. He has assimilated all this material and handles it with easy familiarity, taste, and wit...He writes with insight about the life, the works, and their interconnections, and he can suddenly cut straight to the marrow...Sheridan has no ax to grind, no theory to impose; he allows us to share the pleasure he takes in Gide's company.
Contemporary Review - Geoffrey Heptonstall
Alan Sheridan's account is perhaps best in dealing with the critical moments of his subject's life. The meetings with Wilde; the acceptance, then world-shaking rejection, of Stalin, are narrated as if by an eye-witness.
ForeWord - H. Shaw Cauchy
Sheridan uses Gide's Journal (the book Gide said he would choose if only one could survive), forty volumes of letters, interviews and the novels themselves to build this outstanding biography. Sheridan's voice is clear in the narrative, and his personal comments and insights lighten the over 600 pages of chronological text. André Gide often reads like a novel. There are hilarious sections when an event is described in several different ways, in several different letters, to several different people. There are reading lists and journal entries; 'cruising' successes and failures; and synopses and interpretations of all his works...According to Sheridan, it is Gide's very un-French sincerity and the mysterious mix of curiosity and self-absorption that ensured the endurance and vitality of his work.
Lambda Book Report - Ulysses D'aquila
In André Gide, Sheridan does an admirable job of showing us why Gide should not be forgotten...It is the very essence of Gide, the man and the writer, to bravely defy expected norms of behavior in his principled search for truth and meaning. It is, Sheridan asserts, one of the reasons he remains such a compelling figure. Gide's constant traveling, his unflinching introspection, his cult of sincerity with always insisting he tell the absolute truth in his books, no matter the consequence, make him very much a person of our own times.
Commercial Appeal - Fredric Koeppel
The subtitle of Sheridan's biography, A Life in the Present, explains the exceptionally close focus with which he approaches his subject. Armed with encyclopedic grasp of Gide's life and works, including unpublished letters and journals that cast valuable light on his contradictory nature, Sheridan peers at Gide as through a microscope...The result is richly detailed and succeeds admirably in tying the life and work together.
Lesbian & Gay New York - Christopher Voigt
The strength of Sheridan's biography is its relentless attention to Gide the man rather than Gide the novelist. Though Sheridan offers rather informed readings of each of Gide's works, he goes beyond his call in successfully fleshing out the man-in-the-world.
The Brunswick Reader - Douglas Fetherling
An excellent new study...Reading Sheridan's biography gives some of the same pleasure you get from reading Gide's Journals, which appeared between 1939 and 1950, or his vast published correspondence...In absorbing a great deal of Gide's own distinctive voice, one is reminded both of Graham Greene's world-weariness and of Joseph Conrad's cosmopolitanism...One of the reasons to enjoy the book by Sheridan is that Sheridan is an English academic, not an American one, and even though Sheridan has been one of Michel Foucault's many translators, he doesn't write in the trendy jargon of postcolonial studies, using words like Otherness, upper case, or alternity; He simply accepts that colonialism was the dominant form of international trade and culture when Gide was doing his most important work.
Jerusalem Post - Allan E. Shapiro
How does personal experience tie into Gide's literary odyssey in the realms of morality, religion, and politics? Sheridan, an experienced translator and literary commentator, eschews simplistic explanations, spiritual or materialistic, psychological, ideological or historical. General explanations, he claims, should be confined to particular circumstances in the course of human activities. This does credit to the complexity of the subject...Readers of [this] biography will have a fuller understanding of the actual models for characters in Gide's major works and even of some of the factual situations.
Choice - R. Merker
Noted author and translator of works by Sartre, Lacan, and Foucault, Sheridan provides the most thorough literary biography since Gide's death in 1951...Writing in remarkable, accessible prose that leaves scarcely a stone unturned, Sheridan integrates Gide's life and fiction...Among the best treatments of Gide, this volume will be a point of departure for anyone interested in Gide or French literature.
The Independent on Sunday - Paul Binding
Neither in English nor in French has there been a biography relating, in appropriate detail and depth, Gide's life and writings to each other...Happily this lack is now a thing of the past. Alan Sheridan has given us a biography as scrupulous and critically alert as it is lively and sympathetic...Alan Sheridan brings [Gide's relationships] to life with a multiplicity of detail and an empathy not only with Gide himself but with the others concerned.
Literary Biography - Douglas Johnson
Sheridan, who is a most careful and conscientious biographer, has amassed a remarkable amount of detail...[He] is both perceptive and restrained in his judgement that Gide has had much to say to several generations. Certainly he presents us with a most informative and detailed biography.
Dissent - David Glenn
One great virtue of Alan Sheridan's beautifully written new biography is that it does not try to claim Gide as a trophy for liberalism, modernism, or any other intellectual terrain...With great clarity and wit, and with a minimum of analytical fanfare, [Sheridan] brings us into the company of a particular life and a particular body of work. The miracle is that, in a volume of nearly three hundred thousand words, the narrative almost never becomes tedious.
Los Angeles Times
A Life in the Present proves to be the best book on Gide I know...Certainly Sheridan's is the first book anyone interested in this author should consult after reading Gide's own work and--in the case of certain precariously 'sincere' Gidean texts, such as 'Corydon'--even before...Sensible and sympathetic, as well as powerful and politic.
— Richard Howard
Choice
Noted author and translator of works by Sartre, Lacan, and Foucault, Sheridan provides the most thorough literary biography since Gide's death in 1951...Writing in remarkable, accessible prose that leaves scarcely a stone unturned, Sheridan integrates Gide's life and fiction...Among the best treatments of Gide, this volume will be a point of departure for anyone interested in Gide or French literature.
— R. Merker
New Republic
[André Gide] far surpasses earlier biographies...The time was ripe to demonstrate Gide's intellectual legacy: to show how, in a career that bridged two centuries, the ground was laid for the subversive strategies of the nouveau roman and for the all-out war waged by ideologues such as Sartre and Foucault against 'patriarchal' institutions, above all the family...Alan Sheridan is an eloquent and perceptive writer...The book has many virtues, not least of them being Sheridan's ability to weave brief and penetrating essays on Gide's work into the chronicle of his restless days.
— Frederick Brown
Boston Globe
Paradoxically, it was left to an Englishman, Alan Sheridan, to write the first full-scale life of Gide. Sheridan has the credentials for the job--the mastery of two languages; the grasp of political and cultural as well as literary history; the patience; the sympathy; the sheer industry. He has assimilated all this material and handles it with easy familiarity, taste, and wit...He writes with insight about the life, the works, and their interconnections, and he can suddenly cut straight to the marrow...Sheridan has no ax to grind, no theory to impose; he allows us to share the pleasure he takes in Gide's company.
— Richard Dyer,
Washington Times
[A] detailed and comprehensive biography of the great French and Nobel Prize-winning author of the Journals and The Counterfeiters...The biography moves chronologically--at the top of each recto page the reader can find out what year he's in--and we read what Gide does: the people he meets, the books he reads, what's on his mind, where he travels and by what means. It's as though we're living his life in the order that he lived and experienced it.
— Stephen Goode
Lambda Book Report
In André Gide, Sheridan does an admirable job of showing us why Gide should not be forgotten...It is the very essence of Gide, the man and the writer, to bravely defy expected norms of behavior in his principled search for truth and meaning. It is, Sheridan asserts, one of the reasons he remains such a compelling figure. Gide's constant traveling, his unflinching introspection, his cult of sincerity with always insisting he tell the absolute truth in his books, no matter the consequence, make him very much a person of our own times.
— Ulysses D'Aquila
Jerusalem Post
How does personal experience tie into Gide's literary odyssey in the realms of morality, religion, and politics? Sheridan, an experienced translator and literary commentator, eschews simplistic explanations, spiritual or materialistic, psychological, ideological or historical. General explanations, he claims, should be confined to particular circumstances in the course of human activities. This does credit to the complexity of the subject...Readers of [this] biography will have a fuller understanding of the actual models for characters in Gide's major works and even of some of the factual situations.
— Allan E. Shapiro
Commercial Appeal
The subtitle of Sheridan's biography, A Life in the Present, explains the exceptionally close focus with which he approaches his subject. Armed with encyclopedic grasp of Gide's life and works, including unpublished letters and journals that cast valuable light on his contradictory nature, Sheridan peers at Gide as through a microscope...The result is richly detailed and succeeds admirably in tying the life and work together.
— Fredric Koeppel
Dissent
One great virtue of Alan Sheridan's beautifully written new biography is that it does not try to claim Gide as a trophy for liberalism, modernism, or any other intellectual terrain...With great clarity and wit, and with a minimum of analytical fanfare, [Sheridan] brings us into the company of a particular life and a particular body of work. The miracle is that, in a volume of nearly three hundred thousand words, the narrative almost never becomes tedious.
— David Glenn
Boston Book Review
In his biography of Gide, Alan Sheridan has accomplished a magnificent feat. Whereas other biographers have been brought up short by the daunting intricacies of Gide's life, Sheridan does not shrink from recounting the full range of his subject's sexual escapades, musical knowledge, friendships, vexed marriage, Protestantism, affluence, and literary merits. Without interpreting the raw materials of Gide's life in a tendentious way, Sheridan shapes facts into coherent patterns. This is a biography worthily in the manner of Plutarch; the density of incidence never overwhelms the clarity of presentation.
— Allan Hepburn
ForeWord
Sheridan uses Gide's Journal (the book Gide said he would choose if only one could survive), forty volumes of letters, interviews and the novels themselves to build this outstanding biography. Sheridan's voice is clear in the narrative, and his personal comments and insights lighten the over 600 pages of chronological text. André Gide often reads like a novel. There are hilarious sections when an event is described in several different ways, in several different letters, to several different people. There are reading lists and journal entries; 'cruising' successes and failures; and synopses and interpretations of all his works...According to Sheridan, it is Gide's very un-French sincerity and the mysterious mix of curiosity and self-absorption that ensured the endurance and vitality of his work.
— H. Shaw Cauchy
The Independent on Sunday
Neither in English nor in French has there been a biography relating, in appropriate detail and depth, Gide's life and writings to each other...Happily this lack is now a thing of the past. Alan Sheridan has given us a biography as scrupulous and critically alert as it is lively and sympathetic...Alan Sheridan brings [Gide's relationships] to life with a multiplicity of detail and an empathy not only with Gide himself but with the others concerned.
— Paul Binding
Contemporary Review
Alan Sheridan's account is perhaps best in dealing with the critical moments of his subject's life. The meetings with Wilde; the acceptance, then world-shaking rejection, of Stalin, are narrated as if by an eye-witness.
— Geoffrey Heptonstall,
San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle
André Gide is a remarkable achievement. To portray adequately Gide's place in literary history is already an impressive feat...Sheridan guides his reader through Gide's varied literary output as well. He provides excellent accounts of the social and political activities Gide became involved in. Most important, Sheridan provides a frank and sympathetic account of Gide's personal life, as paradoxical as his public one.
— Michael Lucey,
Lesbian & Gay New York
The strength of Sheridan's biography is its relentless attention to Gide the man rather than Gide the novelist. Though Sheridan offers rather informed readings of each of Gide's works, he goes beyond his call in successfully fleshing out the man-in-the-world.
— Christopher Voigt,
The Brunswick Reader
An excellent new study...Reading Sheridan's biography gives some of the same pleasure you get from reading Gide's Journals, which appeared between 1939 and 1950, or his vast published correspondence...In absorbing a great deal of Gide's own distinctive voice, one is reminded both of Graham Greene's world-weariness and of Joseph Conrad's cosmopolitanism...One of the reasons to enjoy the book by Sheridan is that Sheridan is an English academic, not an American one, and even though Sheridan has been one of Michel Foucault's many translators, he doesn't write in the trendy jargon of postcolonial studies, using words like Otherness, upper case, or alternity; He simply accepts that colonialism was the dominant form of international trade and culture when Gide was doing his most important work.
— Douglas Fetherling
Literary Biography
Sheridan, who is a most careful and conscientious biographer, has amassed a remarkable amount of detail...[He] is both perceptive and restrained in his judgement that Gide has had much to say to several generations. Certainly he presents us with a most informative and detailed biography.
— Douglas Johnson
Dan Hofstadter
Though [Sheridan] is obviously very learned, he lacks the one attribute that a literary biographer must have: a consistent aesthetic point of view.
Wall Street Journal
New Republic
[André Gide] far surpasses earlier biographies...Alan Sheridan is an eloquent and perceptive writer...The book has many virtues, not least of them being Sheridan's ability to weave brief and penetrating essays on Gide's work into the chronicle of his restless days.
Boston Globe
Paradoxically, it was left to an Englishman, Alan Sheridan, to write the first full-scale life of Gide. Sheridan has the credentials for the job--the mastery of two languages; the grasp of political and cultural as well as literary history; the patience; the sympathy; the sheer industry. He has assimilated all this material and handles it with easy familiarity, taste, and wit...He writes with insight about the life, the works, and their interconnections, and he can suddenly cut straight to the marrow...Sheridan has no ax to grind, no theory to impose; he allows us to share the pleasure he takes in Gide's company.
Washington Times
[A] detailed and comprehensive biography of the great French and Nobel Prize-winning author of the Journals and The Counterfeiters...The biography moves chronologically--at the top of each recto page the reader can find out what year he's in--and we read what Gide does: the people he meets, the books he reads, what's on his mind, where he travels and by what means. It's as though we're living his life in the order that he lived and experienced it.
Dissent
One great virtue of Alan Sheridan's beautifully written new biography is that it does not try to claim Gide as a trophy for liberalism, modernism, or any other intellectual terrain...With great clarity and wit, and with a minimum of analytical fanfare, [Sheridan] brings us into the company of a particular life and a particular body of work. The miracle is that, in a volume of nearly three hundred thousand words, the narrative almost never becomes tedious.
ForeWord
Sheridan uses Gide's Journal (the book Gide said he would choose if only one could survive), forty volumes of letters, interviews and the novels themselves to build this outstanding biography. Sheridan's voice is clear in the narrative, and his personal comments and insights lighten the over 600 pages of chronological text. André Gide often reads like a novel. There are hilarious sections when an event is described in several different ways, in several different letters, to several different people. There are reading lists and journal entries; 'cruising' successes and failures; and synopses and interpretations of all his works...According to Sheridan, it is Gide's very un-French sincerity and the mysterious mix of curiosity and self-absorption that ensured the endurance and vitality of his work.
Library Journal
Sheridans biography of Andr Gide (18691951) answers a need for a thorough, well-documented study of the French Nobelists life, including insightful analyses of his literary works. Sheridan (Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth, Routledge, 1993) rightfully acknowledges the futility of strict adherence to literary history in interpreting Gides work, but he does delineate the process by which the author transmutes the material of his life into the work. Sheridan perceptively examines the structure of each of Gides works and their relation to each other. Gide, a homosexual, married his first cousin Madeleine Rondeaux, but the marriage was never consummated. At age 43, he fathered a daughter with a friend, a woman who did not want marriage. Although he had many sexual dalliances with adolescents and young men, the most enduring was with film director Marc Allgret, a man more than 30 years his junior. Sheridan has written an excellent biography of a great 20th-century writer. Highly recommended.Robert T. Ivey, Univ. of Memphis, Bartlett
Frederick Brown
...[This book]far surpasses earlier biographies, at a propitious moment....Alan Sheridan is an elegant and perceptive writer....[T]he book has many virtues, not the least of them being Sheridan's ability to wave brief and penetrating essays on Gide's work into the chronicle of his restless days.
The New Republic
Augustin Cauchy
[An] outstanding biography. Sheridan's voice is clear in the narrative, and his personal comments and insights lighten the over 600 pagess of chronological text. Andre Gide often reads like a novel.
ForeWord
Allan Hepburn
In his biography of Gide, Alan Sheridan has accomplished a magnificent feat. Whereas other biographers have been brought up short by the daunting intricacies of Gide's life, Sheridan does not shrink from recounting the full range of his subject's sexual escapades, musical knowledge, friendships, vexed marriage, Protestantism, affluance, and literary merits. Without interpreting the raw materials of Gide's life in a tendentious way, Sheridan shapes facts into coherent patterns. This is a biography worthily in the manner of Plutarch; the destiny of incidence never overwhelms the clarity of presentation.
Boston Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674003934
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/2/2000
  • Pages: 752
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 1.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Sheridan's most recent book is Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth. He has also translated over 50 books, including works by Sartre, Lacan, and Foucault.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction

1. Two Stars, Two Races, Two Provinces, Two Faiths

2. Childhood: Schooldays and Holidays (OCTOBER 1874—OCTOBER 1880)

3. Youth: God and Love (OCTOBER 1880—SEPTEMBER 1889)

4. André Waiter: Puritan and Narcissist (OCTOBER 1889—JUNE 1891)

5. The Ironic Narcissist: le Traité du Narcisse, Poésies d'André Walter, le Voyage d'Urien, La Tentative ainoureuse (JUNE 1891— OCTOBER 1893)

6. Liberation and…Engagement: 'J'écris…Paludes'(OCTOBER 1893—JUNE 1895)

7. Marriage and Nomadism: les Nourritures terrestres, Saül, Le Prométliée mal enchaîé, Philoctète (JUNE 1895—OCTOBER 1898)

8. High Hopes Brought Low: le Roi Candaule and L'Immoraliste (NOVEMBER 1898—OCTOBER 1902)

9. The Barren Years: le Retour de l'Enfant prodigue and La Porte étroite (OCTOBER 1902—OCTOBER 1908)

10. The 'New' Gide and the Founding of the NRF: Isabelle and Les Caves du Vatican (OCTOBER 1908—AUGUST 1914)

11. The War: De Profundis, Summer's Lease (AUGUST 1914—NOVEMBER 1918)

12. The Post-War Years: La Symphonie Pastorale (NOVEMBER 1918—DECEMBER 1921)

13. Gide, Homosexual Theorist and Father: Corydon and Les Faux—Monnayeurs (JANUARY 1922—JULY 1925)

14. Heart of Darkness: Voyage au Congo and L'Ecole des femmes
(JULY 1925—DECEMBER 1930)

15. Gide, 'Fellow—traveller': Oedipe, Perséphone and les Nouvelles Nourritures (JANUARY 1931—JUNE 1936)

16. Retreat from Moscow, a Sense of Ending: Retour de L'U.R.S.S. and
Geneviéve (JUNE 1936—SEPTEMBER 1939)

17. Another War: Retreat and Exile (SEPTEMBER 1939—MAY 1945)

18. 'The End of Life…A Rather Dull Last Act': Thésée and
Ainsi soit—il (MAY 1945—FEBRUARY 1951)

Conclusion

Notes and References

Bibliography

Family Trees: The Gide Family, The Rondeaux Family

Index

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