The Immoralist

The following is an excerpt from Andre Gide’s preface to his novella, The Immoralist:

… I no more wanted this book to be an accusation than an apology. I refrained from passing judgment. These days the public demands an author’s moral at the end of the story. In fact, they even want him to take sides as the drama unfolds, to declare himself explicitly for Alceste or for Philinte, for Hamlet or for Ophelia, for Faust or for Gretchen, for Adam or for Jehovah. It is not that I wish to claim that neutrality (I was going to say indecision) is a sure indicator of a superior intelligence, but I believe that many great minds have refused to… draw conclusions — and that posing a problem is not the same is presupposing its resolution.

I use the word ‘problem’ with some reluctance. In truth, in art there are no problems, none to which the work itself is not an adequate solution.

If by ‘problem’ we mean ‘drama’, I will say that the one recounted in this book, though it unfolds within the very soul of my hero, is no less universal for being circumscribed by the particularity of his experiences… This ‘problem’… existed before my book came along… The problem continues to exist, and does not in the author’s view terminate in triumph or defeat.

[. . .] After all, I am not trying to prove anything, merely to paint my picture well and set it in a good light.

Coming Soon… more on The Immoralist.

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