By David H. Walker (auth.)
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Additional info for André Gide
Such then, are the factors in the equation which La Porte Etroite seeks to develop to the inevitable conclusion. Two personalities, brought up in a certain religious and psychological climate, will respond to a crisis involving a mixture of moral horror and doctrinal prescription by proceeding along parallel courses to the ruination of their lives. This dual demonstration might be said to recall the progression evident in L 'Immoraliste- and justifies thereby the analogies between the two books which Gide was at pains to stress.
34 At this point, we might say, Gide has completed his remodelling of the symbolist aesthetic to enable him to move on to the novels he hoped to write. From symbolism he has retained the importance of composition, the ordering and focusing of the work's structure to permit a reading which is not merely linear; and also the possibility of an artistic stance which would integrate the depiction of the particular and general truths. This will produce, as we shall see, the first set of Gide's narrative masterpieces, those works he theorised as a priori novels.
Opaque suggestions such as these have become banally transparent since Freud, but it is still worth singling them out since they illustrate the operation, alongside the conscious rationalisations which Michel provides elsewhere, of unconscious elements he is, or chooses to be, unaware of. 'The force which calls the tune in Michel's novel is the unconscious,' declares Germaine Bree with some justification. 68 The 'vie latente et rusee' that stirs in Michel and leads him to disaster is, as we have seen, quite plainly composed in part at least of ill-understood sexual desires which, being repressed and hidden, subconsciously drive Michel to reject society and First-Person Narratives 41 civilisation and plunge into the dark side of his nature in an effort to realise these obscure impulses: 'I cannot say where my folly showed more triumphantly.