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The Vatican Cellars by André Gide

The Vatican Cellars (1914)

by André Gide

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Style adapte a l`epoque du recit, un peu vieilli, histoire de l`hypocrisie bourgeoise... ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 2, 2016 |
A well translated novel.
A funny unique story.Good to have the old stories brought to the fore again.
I received a digital copy from the publishers via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review. ( )
  Welsh_eileen2 | Jan 23, 2016 |
Start the month with a hundred year old Austrian satire, end the month with ">a hundred year old French satire. Why not?

Not that I was really aware this was a satire before the opening page (The Vatican Cellars: An allegorical satire) told me. I ARC'd The Vatican Cellars because I read La Symphonie pastorle in high school, which is a story pretty much perpendicular to this one. I don't recall La Symphonie pastorle as a romp. The Vatican Cellars is a romp. The satire here is definitely more subtle than in this month's earlier Austrian satire (i.e. no Martians sweeping in at the end and blowing up the earth). I appreciated that, having the author think me a little bit clever. But I likely missed a lot of the Catholic jokes and I know I missed pretty much all the Freemason ones.

So we have our romp. There's a whole intermingled family (three sisters, their husbands, an illegitimate child, the childhood friend of the illegitimate child, the girlfriend of the illegitimate child and his childhood friend (generally not at the same time, but maybe?), the sister of one of the husbands, the father of same husband, a childhood friend of another husband (who is in love with the sister his childhood friend married), a bunch of the kids of various sisters and husbands); part way through I felt like I needed one of those family trees found in the front of heavy Russian novels. Then I sorted myself out and continued. The main narrative thrust, at least the one that gets most of the family from France to Italy, is a sort of 419/Nigerian-Prince scam, where you roll your eyes at the characters who can't seem to see how ridiculous the whole thing is, en courant comme des canards sans tête. There's the proto-nihilism and a crime that one could attribute, retroactively, to Mersault. There's a bunch of pious characters ignoring taboos (extra-marital affairs! incest! blasphemy!). There's a dragging of the last twenty pages or so as some of the machinations are revealed to some of the characters and then ...

And then the story simply stops. Bam. Like a wall and we're in the endnotes and afterword.

Um, okay.

The afterward tries to suggest that the abruptness is again a manner of playing with preconceptions, i.e. where is the happy ending, or the comeuppance or the return to moral rectitude? Nowhere! Because I, André Gide, am trying to fuck with your idea of how stories like this should end. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


So the book was funny and engaging and then it started to slog and then it finished. The End.

But I will mention that The Vatican Cellars is not at all like La Symphonie pastorle, which is more what I was expecting because I never read the blurbs on Netgalley maybe as closely as I should have?

See the kind of wacky verb-tenses in that past sentence? There's a lot of verb-tense changes The Vatican Cellars. I suppose they are from the original text and not the translation, but they pull me out of the story. Also the narrator who likes to talk to the reader now and then, I think to remind us that André Gide is somewhere watching us. Then the translation, which the introduction assures me has been modernized for today's reader, veers between describing something as looking gross (at least it wasn't gnarly) then using words like bumf, which is apparently British slang, no idea if that's contemporary or not. I'm glad my kobo has a dictionary for me to look these words up in. Ending a review like this, without any real sort of conclusion may seem a bit odd, but think of it this way, I am trying to fuck with your idea of how reviews like this should end. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!


The Vatican Cellars, by André Gide, a new translation by Julian Evans, went on sale August 11, 2014.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  reluctantm | Dec 27, 2015 |
The first work I have read by Gide after reading his name mentioned on many occasions. A well structured and thought-provoking novel saturated in meaning. The whirlwind pace and moments of Ripleyesque rationalized (yet motive free) criminality make this a very intense read. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Aug 31, 2015 |
Possible spoiler--

Despite my expectation that Gide must be a thoroughly anti-establishment writer, developments in this racy and sometimes humorous narrative place the author in company with Dan Quayle and other conservatives who’ve decried the evil effects of illegitimate births & child-rearing. Lafcadio’s “unmotivated crime” comes to pass as a result of his rootless lifestyle and devotion to fleeting amusements. The evil impulse fills an emptiness where attachment is lacking. His mother’s wanton ways in passing him from uncle to uncle clearly established the unfortunate pattern! And despite being drawn to pleasure, Lafcadio is also a bit of a Buddhist: he enters the void outside of social convention and even finds it possible to “quit a society as simply as all that, without stepping at the same moment into another…” A very interesting read! ( )
  AnesaMiller | Jan 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
André Gideprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bussy, DorothyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Pour ma part, mon choix est fait. J'ai opte pour l'atheisme social. Cet atheisme, je l'ai exprime depuis une quinzaine d'annees, dans une serie d'ouvrages...' Georges Palante Chronique philosophique du Mercure de France (December 1912)
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à Jacques Copeau
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In 1890, during the pontificate of Leo XIII, Anthime Armand-Dubois, unbeliever and freemason, visited Rome in order to consult Dr X, the celebrated specialist for rheumatic complaints.
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Les Caves du Vatican is also translated as Lafcadio's Adventures and The Vatican Cellars.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394700961, Mass Market Paperback)

Passing with cinematographic speed across the capitals of Europe, Nobel laureate André Gide’s Lafcadio’s Adventures is a brilliantly sly satire and one of the clearest articulations of his greatest theme: the unmotivated crime.

When Lafcadio Wluiki, a street-smart nineteen-year-old in 1890s Paris, learns that he’s heir to an ailing French nobleman’s fortune, he’s seized by wanderlust. Traveling through Rome in expensive new threads, he becomes entangled in a Church extortion scandal involving an imprisoned Pope, a skittish purveyor of graveyard statuary, an atheist-turned-believer on the edge of insolvency, and all manner of wastrels, swindlers, aristocrats, adventurers, and pickpockets. With characteristic irony, Gide contrives a hilarious detective farce whereby the wrong man is apprehended, while the charmingly perverse Lafcadio—one of the most original creations in all modern fiction—goes free.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:03 -0400)

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