André Gide by David H. Walker (auth.)

By David H. Walker (auth.)

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Hence satisfaction is to be avoided in the interests of saintliness and salvation; which leads to deliberate self-denial and a commitment to frustration itself, justified by the Biblical phrase, 'These all received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us' (578; 116. 587; 128). The pursuit of saintliness involves a rejection of humanity itself, since human nature is inherently imperfect and inadequate, and cannot therefore present a goal worth pursuing: 'Cursed be the man that trusteth in man' (543; 68.

For all his commitment to artistic form and the appropriate aesthetic arrangement of reality, what he wants to achieve above all is an action or event which escapes all systems of thought or representation. We have referred to his horror of life's monotony; he is continually seeking a reality beyond the confines of narrow routine: 'the very surprise of it is my goal - the unforeseen - do you take my meaning? ' (110; 40). We could recall Adam, in Paradise: we meet here once more the impulse which is inimical to artistic structure, to narrative logic and formal necessity.

Above all, the narrator, as Gide's formula emphasises, is not a detached, impartial observer; he is 'angry'. In essence this illustration refers to some emotional involvement or a particular state of mind which impinges on the telling of the story. The events in which the narrator was involved have affected him psychologically; and this will be evident in his narration. Indeed the very retelling of events may reinforce the initial frame of mind. This accounts for the 'constant connection' Gide seeks to indicate between the 'anger' of the narrator and the story being told.

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