During the author's travels, he meets Menalcas, a caricature of Oscar Wilde, who relates his fantastic life story. But for all his brilliance, Menalcas is only Gide's yesterday self, a discarded wraith who leaves Gide free to stop exalting the ego and embrace bodily and spiritual joy. "Later Fruits of the Earth", written in 1935 during Gide's short-lived spell of communism, reaffirms the doctrine of the earlier book. But now he sees happiness not as freedom, but a submission to heroism. In a series of 'Encounters', Gide describes a Negro tramp, a drowned child, a lunatic and other casualties of life. These reconcile him to suffering, death and religion, causing him to insist that 'today's Utopia' be 'tomorrow's reality'.
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(198mm x 129mm x 13mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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UK Kirkus Review »
Written in 1897 by one of the most famous writers of his time, this is an exploration of the true nature of happiness experienced through all the senses. Reacting against the limitations imposed by the strict Catholicism of the time and a literature which was 'imbued with a close and artificial atmosphere', Gide embarks on a three-year journey of sensual discovery, of 'unlearning', in which he resolves to forget all that he has learnt with his head. The impetus is his contracting of tuberculosis and it is to this that he attributes, in his Preface to the 1927 edition, the 'exuberance of someone to whom life is precious because he has been on the point of losing it'. Gide himself tells us that he resolved to put no personalities in his book and indeed there are no characters and no plot to distract the reader from the primary sensations of sight, sound, touch and taste in which he immerses himself. Written in a combination of poetry and prose, the book swings between the warm and vibrant landscape of Florence, the wet dreariness of agricultural Normandy and the exoticism of Algeria. For every location there is a different taste sensation to be had, from luscious fruit staining the lips with its juice to the sourness of freshly made cheese. And accompanying these is the ever-present suggestion, never explicit, of sexual adventure as the author throws off the constraints of conventional morality to satisfy his overwhelming desires, whether for a Venetian courtesan, a cabin boy at sea or an Arab goatherd. The second part of the work, published some 18 years later, has the confidence and discipline of an author who has 'grown up' both as a person and as a writer. Beautiful verse combines with philosophical discussion to present a more considered and mature view on the nature of love, religion and happiness. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Andre Gide
Gide was born in Paris on 22 November 1869. He had an irregular and lonely upbringing. He became devoted to literature and music, and began his literary career as an essayist, moving on to poetry, biography, fiction, drama, criticism, reminiscence and translation. By 1917 he had emerged as a prophet to French youth, and his unorthodox views were a source of endless debate and attack. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948. Gide died in Paris in 1951.