Gide Publishes the Signed Edition of Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Popular French novelist André Gide published a signed commercial edition of his Socratic dialogues, Corydon, a work on the virtues of homosexuality. Soon after Corydon was published, Gide acknowledged in his autobiography that he was gay.

Summary of Event

In 1911, André Gide first published anonymously, and in an incomplete form, a collection of dialogues on homosexuality in a private edition of twelve. He republished this pamphlet, titled Corydon, in its complete form in 1920, but again only in a private edition, this time of twenty-one copies. The signed commercial edition did not appear until 1924 (and the English translation did not appear until 1950). In it, Gide argued that homosexuality was not only natural but also beneficial to society. [kw]Gide Publishes the Signed Edition of Corydon (1924) [kw]Publishes the Signed Edition of Corydon, Gide (1924) [kw]Corydon, Gide Publishes the Signed Edition of (1924) Corydon (Gide) Literature;gay Homosexuality;early works on [c]Literature;1924: Gide Publishes the Signed Edition of Corydon[0260] [c]Publications;1924: Gide Publishes the Signed Edition of Corydon[0260] Gide, André

Corydon opens when a rather naïve narrator comes to see his old friend, Corydon, a successful doctor, about a homosexual scandal reported in the press. They agree to discuss a book that Corydon is writing, called A Defense of Pederasty. Corydon explains that he discovered his sexual inclination while he was engaged, during his internship at the hospital. At first he could not understand why he did not feel any physical desire for his fiancé, although he did feel love. Later he realized that his affections for her younger brother went beyond mere friendship, and he concluded that his attraction to him was quite natural and even praiseworthy.

André Gide.

(The Nobel Foundation)

In the second dialogue, Corydon advocates a new theory on sexual attraction that rejects the idea that the sexual instinct attracts males to females for the sake of reproduction. Instead, he believes that the sexual instinct pushes males and females to seek pleasure in a number of different ways, which includes the contact of males with males and of females with females. In other words, homosexuality is an entirely natural phenomenon. “To obtain pleasure, this joining together of the two sexes is not indispensable,” Corydon tells his visitor.

Corydon continues in the next dialogue with the idea that society has developed artificial means of attraction that are less spontaneous, less naïvely innocent, and, in short, less natural than the simple beauty of the human body, especially of the male body. Such artificial means of attraction have often produced immoral and unethical behavior among both homosexual and heterosexual men and women. In its purest form, sexual behavior, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is neither moral nor immoral, neither ethical nor unethical. He writes,

In homosexuality, just as in heterosexuality, there are all shades and degrees, from Platonic love to lust, from self-denial to sadism, from radiant health to sullen sickliness, from simple expansiveness to all the refinements of vice.

In the final dialogue, Corydon argues that the love of an older man for an adolescent boy can be more beneficial for the emotional development of the young man than can the charms of an older woman. After all, the young adolescent is usually unsure of his sexual inclinations, is more willing to explore his sexuality, and is more in need of the affections of an older man, who “can understand an adolescent boy’s troubles better than a woman can.” He believes that “such a lover will jealously watch over him, protect him, and himself exalted, purified by this love, will guide him toward those radiant heights, which are not to be reached without love.”

Significance

Gide’s defense of homosexuality in Corydon was an eloquent plea for toleration based on his belief that homosexuality is natural. Society’s attempts to regulate sexual activity is, in and of itself, unnatural and consequently the source of immoral and unethical behavior, among both homosexuals and heterosexuals.

Soon after Corydon, Gide published his autobiography Si le grain ne meurt (1926; If It Die…, 1935), If It Die…(Gide) in which he explicitly acknowledged his own homosexuality. Together with Corydon, Si le grain ne meurt caused quite a sensation. Gide was denounced by many members of the intellectual elite, but others found his arguments thoughtful and reasonable. His public stance gave homosexuals in France the courage to live their lives openly and honestly.

Gide’s defense of homosexuality is significant not so much because of the ideas he advocated—many of which are still popular arguments—but because he had the courage to confront the issue without deceiving himself or others. This courage, which allowed him to portray his sexual identity in positive terms, was not something that came about suddenly. It was the result of a long personal struggle that had developed over the course of his childhood, his marriage, and his literary career. It was the impetus that led him to write, that gave meaning to his life, and that he passed on to others through his own reflections. Corydon (Gide) Literature;gay Homosexuality;early works on

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Gide, André. Corydon. Paris: Gallimard, 1924. Translated by Richard Howard. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. Si le grain ne meurt. Paris: Gallimard, 1926. Translated by Dorothy Bussy as If It Die…London: Secker and Warburg, 1950. Lucey, Michael. Gide’s Bent: Sexuality, Politics, Writing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Martin du Gard, Roger. Notes on André Gide. Translated by John Russell. New York: Helen Marx, 2005.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Pollard, Patrick. André Gide: The Homosexual Moralist. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Segal, Naomi. André Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Sheridan, Alan. André Gide: A Life in the Present. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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1928: Hall Publishes The Well of Loneliness

1939: Isherwood Publishes Goodbye to Berlin

1947-1948: Golden Age of American Gay Literature

1956: Baldwin Publishes Giovanni’s Room

1963: Rechy Publishes City of Night

June, 1971: The Gay Book Award Debuts

1974: The Front Runner Makes The New York Times Best-Seller List

1975: First Novel About Coming Out to Parents Is Published

1980-1981: Gay Writers Form the Violet Quill

May, 1987: Lambda Rising Book Report Begins Publication

June 2, 1989: Lambda Literary Award Is Created

1993: Monette Wins the National Book Award for Becoming a Man

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