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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Return to Book Page. The story’s protagonist, Michel, immorlaist nothing about love ggide he marries the gentle Marceline out of duty to his father. On the couple’s honeymoon to Tunisia, Michel becomes very ill, and during his recovery he meets a young Arab boy whose radiant health and beauty captivate him.
An awakening for him both sexually and morally, Michel discovers a new freedom in seeking to live according to his own desires. But, as he also discovers, freedom can be a burden. A frank defense of homosexuality and a challenge to prevailing ethical concepts, The Immoralist is a literary landmark, marked by Gide’s masterful, pure, simple style.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. Paperbackpages. Published September 1st by Penguin Classics first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about The Immoralistplease sign up. Is Dover Thrift’s edition of this book any good? I am concerned about reading an acclaimed book in a bad edition See 1 question about The Immoralist….
Lists with This Book. Recommended to Jaidee by: Beautiful in its writing, quiet in its execution, seductive in its message immoralidt destructive in its implications. The book begins with a suppressed young dutiful intellectual and ends with bide despairing debauched and self-deluded libertine. In between is some of the most exquisite writing and the transformation of a young man from upstanding citizen to a malignant narcissist.
T 5 “satanic, provocative, deceptive” stars. The immorlist utilizes the vicissitudes of landscape, weather and nuances of emotions to seduce the reader into rooting for this most hateful of villains and his attempts at self-transformation. We are in the heat, windstorms, gire winters and sensuous springtimes.
We are seduced by beauty, attempts at love, philosophical arguments, works of great art and intimate conversation. We are initially excited by his sexual awakening and burgeoning awareness of his own sensual beauty. We are smitten to the periodic immorxlist to his wife, his superficial helpfulness immoraist those in need, his appreciation of the underdogs of society and his rejection of snobbery and elitism.
Then delusion sets in His appreciation for youths turns to taboo encounters of the most predatory kind. He facilitates the underprivileged to turn against each other through the use of trickery and guile so that he can watch like the most selfish of voyeurs. Most cruelly of all he turns on his wife and watches her die while at the same time sucking in all of her beauty, loyalty and kindness to enforce his own life force.
The Immoralist by Andre Gide
In the end he calls on his friends so that he can confess and likely seduce them into offering in their spirits to him like a soul-thirsty incubus. I found this book haunting, sublime and wicked. This book is dangerous in the wrong hands.
A disturbing but important experience and a chance to reflect on the self and where one fits on the continuum. View all 39 comments. The Immoralist is a recollection of events that Michel narrates to his three visiting friends. One of those friends solicits job search assistance for Michel by including in a letter to Monsieur D. Important points of Michel’s story are his recovery from tuberculosis; his attraction to a Important points of Michel’s story are his recovery from tuberculosis; his attraction to a series of Arab boys and to his estate caretaker’s son; and the evolution of a new perspective on life and society.
View all 6 comments. That would have been about two years after it was published and about two years before Picasso started distorting eyes and mouths and jaws and limbs in his painted prostitutes. I am trying to picture myself dressed in yards and yards of bombazine, chiffon and lace, shapely cut to follow my already markedly thin waist, thanks to those bone stays that have cinched it into a harness, sorry, a corset. I need to feel the effort of breathing in, languidly, and the relief of breathing out before I can breathe in again and hopefully catch the oxygen I did not quite get the previous time.
I would also need to feel the weight of my long hair pinned up around my head and pulled by combs that have scratched my scalp, and may be also of a wide-brimmed hat with feathers and ribbons, sitting on top of that mass of hair. And because of all that accoutrement I would have to stay well perked up rather than lean comfortably against the back of the velvety sofa.
If I want to digest this book properly, to imagine all that conscription seems more pressing than brushing up my Nietzsche. Or, if I wanted to feel a frisson in any way related to the way Michel falls under the spell of young men in Bikra, rather than dismiss it as irrelevant or accept it in a politically correct fashion; I may have to look for some kind of additional aid.
I would need all of the above, and other things too, to be able to appreciate the exhilaration that Michel, the claimed immoral-man, is having when in Tunisia, by the sea, he decides to take off his clothes and feel the bright sun that warms his skin and limbs and illuminates him into embracing a new life. Otherwise the idea of a scantly clad man on a beach might now evoke images of overweight tourists cooking themselves into red lobsters under a charring sun.
The Immoralist by Andre Gide | Hungry Like the Woolf
And similarly goes for getting the conceptual implications of the contrast between classical and gothic architecture. Because, sadly, many of the signs that in this book herald freedom have now lost their power, because, happily, now they are commonplace.
If they did succeed in breaking conventions their effect was short-lived. Or may be not even that has changed us? View all 25 comments. For to be free means to get rid of all references, all dogmas, but how could one get rid of those; for all the ethics and moral codes, we have developed over ages though evolution, define our societal structures.
And to maintain order in our society we need these structures or least that is how we know it.
The existential thought is the basis of Existentialist literature as Sartre used to maintain- man defines his life himself and must take responsibility to live his life accordingly. Morality speaks of a imoralist of behavior in regards to standards of right or wrong behavior. The word carries the concepts of: Morality has become a complicated issue in the multi-cultural world we live in today.
There is always a conflict between our social obligations and our actions as individuals. And how do we measure what is morally accepted or not, we use age old concept of majority, so the question of morality involves the ever existed tussle between our individual consciousness and our consciousness as tide society. Moreover, we always need references to move forward in life, for we, humans, are not strong enough to live our life without any references or purposes as we may call im,oralist.
And perhaps that is the basis of all our morality, ethics, belief systems etc. For if my call seemed an urgent one, if I made you travel so far to find me, it was purely so that I might see you, and that you might listen to me.
That is all I require: It is not a question of weariness- I no longer understand anything. I need… I need to talk, as I say. Knowing how to free oneself is nothing; the difficult thing is knowing how to live with that freedom. Now he wants to be free of all obligation and inhibition to fully experience the pleasure and sensuality brought about by his late homosexual awakening. To do so, he sacrifices wife, career, and wealth.
Yet when he began to understand himself his desires better, he grew stronger lmmoralist healthier. Yet with this change, Michel did not seem to develop his own sense of morality; rather he sometimes acted in accordance with generally gidw morality and sometimes against it.
At gise point, Michel was happy; he still had a framework of morality through which to understand and direct his life. The book is a like fruit filled with bitter ash, like those colocynths which sprout in the most arid deserts: I have worked hard to the end, done my duty with passion and dedication.
What was really painful was the ugliness of my surroundings. There is nothing more tragic, for someone who has faced death, than a long convalescence.
The accredit layers of acquired learning flaked away like greasepaint, offering glimpses of bare flesh, the real person hidden underneath. To become fully human, men must have courage to kill the God that has infected immiralist freedom of their will. Michel takes Nietzsche simplistically, abandoning Culture for Nature, letting the weak go to wall, and in the end losing everything. Gide knew what to leave as well as what to take of Nietzsche- and when to keep Nietzsche within bounds of his books.
While pursuing his natural inclinations, Gide cherished and retained his wife, his independent means and his professional position. In working out a modus Vivendi that could accommodate both his marriage and his homosexual adventures, he called on the un-Nietzschean but very Gidean quality of compromise.
Deep down, do I even really want to be a good person, or do I only want to seem like a good person so that people including myself will approve of me?
Is there a difference? How do I ever actually know whether I’m bullshitting myself, morally speaking? What Michel seeks is not pleasure, of this or that kind, but the free play of instinct. When he abandons all that he has acquired in life, when he believes that he has found his true self, he is left with nothing. It was great experience to read this book by Gide; as usual with Gide, he had been able to create heart-wrenching tale with simple words- his ability, to conjure up profound effect through his prose with simple seemingly innocuous words, is second to none.
However, the problem of morality, of of inauthentic existence, the book portrays so well and convincingly; the solution to it may come across a compromising one.
Nevertheless, it is a great read for someone who wants to dig in to the great tussle of morality human beings have been facing since the very outbreak of civilization.
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