Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: The Immoralist by Andre Gide

So, I decided to take a break from reading Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert and read The Immoralist by Andre Gide. To say that it was a delightful book does not give it justice; this was slim and powerful novel about a man's embrace of Life after coming so close to Death. We, the readers, are given a firsthand look at Michel's life and how he has become more than a man, at least in the eyes of his friends; however, they see his "awakening" as something that might be dangerous and would upset the calm past Michel held onto so tightly before. We learn of his beloved wife, Marceline, and how devoted she was to him, right up to her painful death. We see a man come full circle to himself and beyond what the ordinary mind can not even begin to fathom. This is a book that must be read and enjoyed slowly, not like me who devoured it like a warm slice of pumpkin pie on a cold night. Gide's wards are like poetry; long and sensual, thoughtful and emotional.

I love reading works written by the Existentialists, for in their work they lay claim to the thought that once you understand that you will die, then and only then can you truly begin to live. How morbid and powerful at the same time. Michel, after coming so close to Death, wants to know what it truly means to live. Even as he watches his wife slowly fade away under her sickness, he burns with life and a desire to "move forward" at any cost.

To end this review, here is a great line from the book, summing up the central idea of this novel:

When you first knew me, I had a great steadfastness state of mind, and I know that's what makes real men - I have it no longer. But this climate, I believe, is what's responsible for the change. Nothing discourages thought so much as this perpetual blue sky. Here any exertion is impossible, so closely does pleasure follow desire. Surrounded by splendor and by death, I feel happiness too close, and the surrender to it too constant. I lie down in the middle of the day to deceive the dreary prospect of time and its intolerable leisure.

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