IDE by Germaine Bree


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Germaine Bree does one thing here better than any other interpreter of Gide: occasionally she places the late Nobel Prize Winner vis a vis the new generation of French writers, especially the existentialists. But she does not do it often enough nor does she do it with much analytic relish. Hers is a sensible, sensitive handling of the Gide themes and tapestries, but it is not particularly satisfying nor, frankly, particularly necessary. It lacks the dynamism of Albert Guerard's work or the depth of Jean Hytier's, both of whose critical studies appeared on the scene over ten years ago. In any case, as Madame Bree well knows, Andre Gide is currently under a cloud; what was once so ""revolutionary"" a stance is, in a sense, commonplace now: the enigmatic ""indirections"" are ad-sign easy compared to Robbe-Grillet; the cult of the ""confessional"", the homo-rotic histrionics are surely tame in the age of Jean Genet, and the absurdist adventures of Lafcadio, of the acte gratuit, must seem schoolboy pranks to post-graduates Ionesco and Vauthier. Gide is, to use hip lingo, so far ""in"" he's ""out"". But as the Bree commentary smoothly shows it is the Gide presence on his pages that roves the ultimate preservative: his style; his understanding of literature's elation to life; his humanization of mythology; his dedication to a deeply personal development; and, of course, his search for authenticity in an ambiguous world. All these modern concerns, through 60 years of published work, he refined along classic ines. Among the book's better points: an enterprising examination of The Counter-writers, a perceptive purview of The Journals.

Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press