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The Immoralist (1902)

by André Gide

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,974363,502 (3.6)88
Superb novel deals with the consequences of amoral hedonism in the story of a man who tries to rise above good and evil and give free rein to his passions.& Introductory Note. Map. Footnotes.
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» See also 88 mentions

English (33)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Largely due to the passage of time and the evolution of public morals, this book is no longer the boundary breaking work it was on its publication in 1902. Still well written and interesting it no longer has the power to make it a memorable read. ( )
  colligan | Apr 9, 2021 |
After recovering from an illness, a man decides to live his life without being held back by society's morals or conventions.

What must have been shocking when written seemed only mildly risque to me now.

The part I found the most odd was how his wife kept hanging out with local children and then bringing them home to entertain them. I read her intentions as pure (she likes children and does not have any of her own yet), but kept thinking WOW that would not happen today.

I enjoyed the writing style and the philosophical debates about life and how to live it. ( )
  curious_squid | Apr 5, 2021 |
1001 Books begins its summary of The Immoralist like this:

A thought-provoking book that still has the power to challenge complacent attitudes and unfounded cultural assumptions, The Immoralist recounts a young Parisian man’s attempt to overcome social and sexual conformity. (1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, ABC Books 2006, p.241)

The novella is prefaced by an attempt to explain that the ‘problem’ of the book existed before it was written. It is then book-ended at the beginning by a pseudo-letter to the Prime Minister that asks what role in society a young man like the hero might have… and completed by that same friend’s awkward conclusion after the hero’s story has been told. That story is narrated by Michel, who starts out as an austere young scholar and ends up as a defiant hedonist.

The translation, by Dorothy Bussy, uses the term ‘hero’ in the preface. But it does not seem to me that there is anything heroic about Michel.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/01/18/the-immoralist-by-andre-gide-translated-by-d... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jan 17, 2021 |
Well, I liked this more than I thought I would, and more than everyone else seems to. Gide's style here is glorious. Like Larbaud, the prose is perfectly clear, a little elegiac, but also as precise as possible. Gide's tale is simple, but thought-provoking: you could read this as a celebration of Nietzschean uber-menschdom, but only if you're more or less an inhuman prick; you could read it as a plea for repression and moralistic priggery, but only if, again, you're an inhuman prick. On the other hand, Gide makes a strong case for both: Michel is miserable as he is (i.e., repressed and oppressed), but also miserable as a completely 'free' immoralist. There's no particularly good answer here, but the novel is extremely well put together.

Also, fun form: a letter written by one friend to another friend recounting the story told in person to the writer by a mutual friend. It works surprisingly well. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
A hundred and ten odd years have turned this novel limp for modern readers. The questions about personal freedom and how to pursue it best have resolved themselves.
Nonetheless, a good quick read that casts light on its time.
  ivanfranko | Jul 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gide, Andréprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bussy, DorothyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frasconi, AntonioCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kurpershoek, TheoCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsman, H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watson, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm cxxxix:14
Dedication
To my comrade and fellow-traveller Henri Ghéon.
First words
Yes, my dear brother, of course, as you supposed, Michel has confided in us.
The copious and varied literary production of Andre Gide (1869-1951; Nobel PRize for Literature, 1947) was basically a long, penetrating investigation of his own character and potentialities - so much so that his diaries are frequently referred to as his finest work of all. (Note)
I present this book for whatever it is worth. (Preface)
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Superb novel deals with the consequences of amoral hedonism in the story of a man who tries to rise above good and evil and give free rein to his passions.& Introductory Note. Map. Footnotes.

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