These works won Gide the Nobel Prize in Unfortunately, the man he decides to kill turns out to be a vital cog in the aforementioned Pope v. Masons business. Hilarity of the darkest shades ensues. Anyone who reads my book essays knows that I like picking up books from used book shops, antique stores, and other such places.

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Translated by Richard Howard. Farrar, Straus, Giroux. As Richard Howard informs us in one of the relatively straightforward paragraphs of his introduction to this latest edition, Gide began these four ''dialogues'' in ; two of them were published in an unsigned edition of 12 copies in ; 21 copies of all four dialogues along with a preface, still unsigned, were published in It was not until that the full signed work appeared. The reason for all the tentativeness was the subject - homosexuality, or as the condition is variously referred to in these pages, ''pederasty,'' ''inversion,'' ''uranism'' ''degeneracy.

Virgil's Corydon was a shepherd who longed for a fellow shepherd. Gide's Corydon is a learned and sophisticated homosexual, who is writing ''A Defense of Pederasty. Howard fairly describes him. The man says things like, ''Homosexuals are depraved by nature - necessarily.

But such remarks only serve as an invitation to Corydon, and what begins as dialogue soon becomes a virtual monologue as he advances some exceedingly dubious theories of animal behavior and the human sex drive, along with rhapsodies to what he imagines to have been love between man and boy in Classical Greece.

He maintains ''that the peace of the household, the honor of the woman, the respectability of the family, the health of husband and wife were more effectively preserved by Greek morality than by ours. Corydon was not a bad prophet - ''I'm willing to bet that in twenty years it will be impossible to take words like 'unnatural' and 'perverted' seriously. Toward the end, he dispenses with the scholarly approach and emerges as a publicist for his inclination, his cause, his faith: ''The periods of great artistic flowering - the Greeks in the ages of Pericles, the Romans in the age of Augustus, the British in the age of Shakespeare, the Italians in the time of the Renaissance, the French in the Renaissance and then under Louis XIII, the Persians in the century of Hafiz, etc.

I would almost go so far as to say that only the periods or regions without uranism are also the periods or regions without art. For example, he does not dispute Corydon's argument that sexual pleasure is to be found ''in whatever form it is offered,'' that a youth ''owes his habits more to outside influences than to the promptings of desire.

But if the dialogue is rigged and the anthropolgy is fanciful and the evocation of an idyllic Greece is a bit silly, it is all in the service of a cause close to Gide's heart, and in that regard the book remains a touching testament. At the turn of the century in France, as elsewhere, it was not easy to speak or write openly about homosexuality; Gide himself did not exactly come crashing out of the closet. In publishing ''Corydon,'' he hoped to break the silence and the hypocrisy that surrounded the subject, to make unnecessary ''the smuggler's behavior'' to which people like the narrator drove the homosexual.

A courageous endeavor. Today, with all the din about homosexuality, much of it as exasperating as the arguments on both sides in this book, one may sigh for a return to a quieter time. But Gide was insisting with this unpersuasive yet necessary work that there are circumstances in which silence is not golden. Arts No Headline. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

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The name of the book comes from Virgil 's pederastic character Corydon. Parts of the text were separately privately printed from to , and the whole book appeared in its French original in France in May and in the United States in The dialogues use evidence from naturalists , historians , poets , and philosophers in order to back up Gide's argument that homosexuality is natural, or better not unnatural, and that it pervaded the most culturally and artistically advanced civilizations such as Periclean Greece, Renaissance Italy and Elizabethan England. Gide argues this is reflected by writers and artists from Homer and Virgil to Titian and Shakespeare in their depictions of male—male relationships, such as Achilles and Patroclus , as homosexual rather than as platonic as other critics insist. Gide uses this evidence to insist that homosexuality is more fundamental and natural than exclusive heterosexuality , which he believes is merely a union constructed by society. Gide considered Corydon to be his most important work.


Nobel prize winner Gide considered this work his crowning achievement. Published in French in , the book is divided into four "dialogs" on homosexuality and its place in the world. This is probably more for academics, but public libraries serving gay communities will also want it. Gide, the reflective rebel against bourgeois morality and one of the most important and controversial figures in modern European literature, published his first book anonymously at the age of Gide was born in Paris, the only child of a law professor and a strict Calvinist mother.


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