By Thomas Cordle (auth.)
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Additional info for André Gide
We pray, we look for ecstasy again,-and the evolution begins anew" ( OC, I, 148). Two dreams in particular torment Andre. The one is of a band of naked, brown-skinned children bathing in a river. His first reaction is revulsion: he will not be one of such a vagabond crew. But then comes desire to be among them, to caress their bodies. The other dream is of Emmanuele. She appears in a stately, embroidered gown. A monkey playfully raises her dress. Andre tries not to look, but does, and sees nothing but darkness.
He gave as complete an expression to the sentiment of sterility and nothingness as any writer of the period. Another generation of writers born in the 1860's prolonged the decadent sensibility and its typical themes up into the twentieth century. Jules Lafargue ( 1860-1887) represented its angelic face while Henri de Regnier ( 1864-1936) and Maurice Barres ( 18621923) gave a refined, intellectual statement of the demonic. Gide's neurotic personality, with its primary movement toward the sensual and the shameful and its compensating countermovement toward purity and sublimity, disposed him to Decadence even before he had encountered the chief works of that tendency.
This sense is made explicit in the despairing mission of El Hadj. It is also implicit in the languorous sentence that Gide invented for the tale. " Louis Martin-Chauffier observed that the lengthening of the sentence was effected by "a sort of reprise, of perpetual rebound at the moment when the sentence seemed to end" (RRS, 1510). It is evident that for some of Gide's most sensitive and knowing readers his syntax and vocabulary were more important even than the lAndscape in creating the emotion that he intended.