Random musings from the front line (well, more like the support trench, or perhaps the castle 10 miles away, supping Chateau Lafite with the General Staff) in the battle for curiosity, inertia, grammar and a Dachshund called Colin.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Gide - Not a Daily Mail fan

To whom Michael Jackson should aspireNow here's a well dressed rake-about-town. Not so much Beau Geste as Beau Chapeau - this bearded chap is (or was, as he died in 1951) Andre Gide, a French author, aesthete, opinion-former and ... er ... paederast.

He was born in 1869, to a well off family, and with a substantial income from his family wealth, was a profilic writer from childhood onwards. He was an interesting character actually, for a number of reasons:

  1. He was married for 43 years, but it was never consummated. This, apparently, is a record.
  2. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but his entire body of work was placed on the Vatican's Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books", that all Roman Catholics are forbidden to read) - one of only 2 laureates to be so treated.
  3. Was a fan of the odd catamite, especially those of Arabian extraction. It seems that in late 19th century France this was not considered a bad thing.
  4. On the other hand, despite receiving universal condemnation from the Parisian literati for his 1924 book Corydon, in which he defended homosexuality in general, and Oscar Wilde in particular, he conducted a vigorous extra-marital affair with one Maria Van Rysselberghe, and had even conceived a daughter in 1923.
  5. He didn't believe in the first person pronoun "I", and referred to himself as "it".

So, all in all, not the sort of person to appeal to the readers of the Daily Mail. With such unconventional views on life, and some eminently pithy quotations, I may just buy some of the old devil's collected works for some light reading over the summer. My favourite comments of his are:

  • Know thyself! A maxim as pernicious as it is ugly. Whoever observes himself arrests his own development. A caterpillar who wanted to know itself well would never become a butterfly.
  • I owe much to my friends; but, all things considered, it strikes me that I owe even more to my enemies. The real person springs to life under a sting even better than under a caress.
  • One doesn't discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

Gide - a Newsnight presenter? It appears to be that we'd all be a lot happier if we had Andre's outlook on life.

Just keep your hands off those boys....

5 Rants & Replies:

Anonymous Marty said...

Sounds a bit like a dirty old perv to me, Merkin, should you really be lionising him on the World Wide Web?

11:57 am, May 17, 2005

Blogger Willie Lupin said...

If we're going to ignore the literature, music and art of everyone who can be called a 'dirty old perv', then we can say goodbye to many of the greatest creative geniuses.

4:55 pm, May 18, 2005

Blogger Merkin said...

Well said, Mr L. It's a sad indictment of the one-dimensional nature of modern thought that one person's actions/pecadilloes can be considered as affecting the worth (or otherwise) of their work. So many artistic and talented perverts in history - let's celebrate them AND their prediliction for immoral activity....

4:16 pm, May 19, 2005

Blogger WordWhiz said...

What a great post! This was both fascinating and entertaining! I'm so glad you came by my blog to lead me to your blog! I'm linking you!! I'll be back!

5:20 pm, May 19, 2005

Blogger Merkin said...

Welcome to the fun, WW. "Where foreign perverts are celebrated for non-gentitalia-related activities...."!

12:22 pm, May 22, 2005


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