By David H. Walker (auth.)
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Extra info for André Gide
Difficulty as a criterion ofworth will cause Alissa to resist her natural inclinations and will dictate choices such as the enforced separation she persuades Jerome to agree to, as an 'epreuve' appropriate to their aspirations (550; 78. 506; 19). ' she replies, 'Holiness' (563-4; 97). 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.
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.
Thus we find, at the apex of the book's structure, a confrontation made all the more significant by the subtly devised edifice which gives it prominence: a representation of the dialogue Michel's entire narrative is at pains to sustain, between the 'voice' of Marceline, reasoning and caring, and the 'voice' of Menalque, aggressive and independent. If dialogue is therefore the chief value the book embodiesand we should perhaps recall that Gide referred to himself as 'a creature of dialogue' 62 - then the point of no return in Michel's story - 'the delicate moment when thought breaks down' occurs when Marceline's death becomes inevitable and the other voice is silenced.