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Strait is the Gate

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,906 ratings  ·  367 reviews
A delicate boy growing up in Paris, Jerome Palissier spends many summers at his uncle's house in the Normandy countryside, where the whole world seems 'steeped in azure'. There he falls deeply in love with his cousin Alissa and she with him. But gradually Alissa becomes convinced that Jerome's love for her is endangering his soul. In the interests of his salvation, she dec ...more
Paperback, 104 pages
Published March 8th 2007 by Mondial (first published 1909)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  3,906 ratings  ·  367 reviews

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Nov 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gide said that he meant this book to be treated as one half of a pair, together with L'Immoraliste. I took him at his word and read them in rapid succession. By the way, I should say this was atypical - I'm a "when all else fails, read the instructions" kind of person, but I found both books together at a second-hand bookstore and it seemed silly not to do what he said.

Looking at other reviews, I seem to have a fairly different take on the book, and perhaps my reading route has something to do w
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1001 books readers - it is short!
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
This book is been hailed as one of the most sensous and sublime love stories of the 19th century, as well as being one of Andre Gide's most vaunted publications. Me? I have no basis for comment or comparison at this time as this was my first tentative foray into the world of Andre Gide. I don't think it will be my last but I don't think I will be charging out the door to clasp all of his other publications lovingly to my bosom. It also seems a little ironic that a gay Frenchman produced one of t ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
The worst kind of person is one who uses the love of another to hurt herself, someone (Alissa) who willfully provokes feelings in another (Jerome) then uses them in cheap furtherance of a self-glorifying martyrdom. Make no mistake: the about-face from self-indulgence to self-denial is itself an indulgence--and especially despicable when it makes casualties (Jerome, Juliette) of others. Morality is not algebraic; cessation doesn't undo; and neither human frailty nor youth nor the absence of ill i ...more
Mary Durrant
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A haunting tale of doomed love.
Sad, powerful and deeply moving.
Stimulates the emotions with beautiful prose.
Such a sad ending!
John David
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
As with most all of Gide’s best novels, this one concerns the anxiety and yearning at the heart of human experience. A very young Jerome Palissier regularly spends holidays at the house of his aunt and uncle’s estate in Fongueusemare in rural Normandy. One day, he happens upon his cousin Alissa, who is distraught at her aloof, hypochondriacal mother. Both desperate to rescue her and drawn by a genuine affection, Jerome takes it upon himself to sweep in and rescue her like a good, Christian knigh ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: big-white-square

Is Andre Gide always pointing in the wrong direction? And does he ever have any fun? Can someone please tell him that the First World War's coming and that very soon we're all going to be living in a world of "if it's a bit warm, take off your jacket. You don't have to move your entire household 200 miles to the north"?

I think I'd probably have been kinder if the secret diary had been more fun. A book with a boring secret diary? That's just rubbish, isn't it?
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strait is the Gate is, for some reason, the first of Andre Gide's books which I have read, despite his having been on my radar for years. I had written his name upon the list of authors whom I hoped to get to during 2017, and also thought that he would be a great inclusion upon my Reading the World list. First published in France in 1909, and in Dorothy Bussy's 1924 translation, I could not pass up the chance of adding yet another marvellous classic of French literature to my list.

Strait is the
Stephen Durrant
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much about this novel could lead some current readers to brush it aside, maybe even with a sneer: overheated teenage romanticism, a struggle with a literalistic but now somewhat passee notion of what Protestant devotion should be, frequent Biblical references and quotations, a somewhat "old-fashioned" use of letters and diary entries to present several points of view, etc. But I confess this novel enthralled me precisely because I have seen in my own religious tradition so many of the same tende ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Le Havre, France

(view spoiler)
James Henderson
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
"I advanced slowly; the sky was like my joy---warm, bright, delicately pure. No doubt she was expecting me by the other path. I was close to her, behind her, before she heard me; I stopped . . . and as if time could have stopped with me, "This is the moment," I thought, "the most delicious moment, perhaps, of all, even though it should precede happiness itself---which happiness itself will not equal." (p 96)

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Verdict: Arguably a love story because ‘story’ implies things happen. On the plus side, it is quite short.

Unlike the French as a whole, I’m quite au fait with their literature so far. du Maurier wrote a better Jane Eyre and, against all expectations, I found Madame Bovary to be a rip-roaring good read. Sadly I’m afraid Gide is letting the side down. To be fair Strait is the Gate is a symbolist work of literature which is fancy speak for ‘nothing happens.’ I will never understand how one movement
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. So I’m going to put this right into the sufferings of young werther, the devil in the flesh, the blind owl mould. Yes I would mention Gide in the same breath as Goethe and Radiguet and Hedayat for sure. If you have ever been in love read on, if not then this will not impact you as much. The book is essentially about 2 cousins who fall in love with each other but the girl (Alissa) sacrifices her love for the boy (Jerome) because her own sister falls in love with the dude. Ok maybe a bit unre ...more
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better known as "Strait is the Gate".

This is the second French classic I have read translated by Walter Ballenberger. I appreciate the way he has put them into modern English without losing the flavor of France.

I have only read one other book by Andre Gide, "The Immoralist". Both that novel and this one deal with people who choose to live their lives according to a guiding principle and where that decision takes them. While I could understand the main character in "The Immoralist" better, I
Aug 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short review for a short novel.

As French things go, this one went too. Delicate in its aesthetics, bold in ideas and a little silly in its notions of love. A petite and accessible tale of love and its labours lost and a simultaneous ode into dejection.

For me, this serves as an introduction to Gide before I read the more serious work that is 'The Counterfeiters'.
Bhaskar Thakuria
Alas! I understand now only too well; between God and him there is no other obstacle but myself. If perhaps, as he says, his love for me at first inclined him to God, now that very love hinders him; he lingers with me, prefers me, and I am become the idol that keeps him back from making further progress in virtue. One of us two must needs attain to it; and as I despair of overcoming the love in my coward heart, grant me, my God, vouchsafe me strength to teach him to love me no longer, so that at ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“Come!’ said she at last: ‘we must wake up.”

utterly marvellous, and (in my own humble opinion) an infinitely more skilful work than his the immoralist, andré gide paints a remarkable portrait of excessive virtue and the folly of over-religiosity. it's both a stark warning and an intimate portrait of two fools in love—in love with each other, with themselves, but perhaps most dangerous of all: in love with the idea of love, for (in christian teaching and practice) Who is God but the very apot
Monty Milne
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I had two thoughts on reaching the end of this: (a) thank goodness that's over and (b) how can anyone sign up to a belief system so obviously unhealthy and life-denying and fail to see that it is a symptom of mental derangement? But then I remembered that many years ago I also dabbled in religious self-denial where matters of the heart were concerned, and it also ended my response to this is quite a lot to do with uncomfortable memories of my own past. Of course, this is finely writte ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
This is a beautifully written soap opera.

So the narrator and Alissa have been in love with each other since they were young. But despite this overwhelming love for one another, Alissa seems flaky. She says she loves him but pushes him away for one reason or another. It comes out that she is the type of person who would make sacrifices for the sake of others, and she does this despite knowing the hurt it causes the narrator.

Review Continued Here
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Leys in his “Little ABC of Gide” quotes the latter to the effect that each of his new titles was specially designed to “upset those readers who enjoyed the preceding one.” Strait is the Gate did not follow precisely on the heels of The Immoralist but it may as well have, the two are so clearly linked. Where the earlier book trades in the excess of sensualism and self-indulgence, Strait is the Gate trades instead in the excess of asceticism and self-denial. Parting from one another at a the ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
The title of Andre Gide's haunting treatise on love and piety is taken from Luke: "Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: But strait is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." The book's protagonist, a serious young man named Jerome, understands Luke's words as a commandment to lead a dedicated and purposeful life, which he hopes to do with his cousin and object of infatuation, Alissa. She ...more
Justin Evans
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Gide has a rare talent for spotting important moral issues, particularly relevant to his own time, and then presenting them in a scrupulously fair manner. The Immoralist can be read as a defense of homosexuality (which I'd like to think doesn't really need a defense anymore), or as a defense of uber-menschliche Nietzscheanism (which doesn't deserve such a defense), or an attack on said Nietzscheanism (which shouldn't, but does, need such an attack). Similarly, Strait is the Gate can be read as a ...more
sonny (no longer in use)
I was pretty sure I hated this book but the last 30 pages left me feeling conflicted on where I actually stand with it. the prose in the last ten pages or so are so heartbreaking that I almost cried, summing up depression, loneliness and craving perfectly. definitely on par with the desperation of the elementary particles. 3.5
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this book when I was very very young. To this day it is one of the saddest books I've read.
It is philosophical, I know that, I know that there is a message there, I get that. But the young me hated how very tragic everything was.
It is so beautifully written. It will touch your soul and leave you thinking for months after.
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
André Gide re-broke my heart.

I don't recommend it. Unless you like crying. (Okay, I strongly recommend it. But I had to warn you)
Beautiful clear, readable prose, full of memorable images and turns of phrase. Some credit must go to the translator, Dorothy Bussy, for that, who knew Gide, and worked on some of the translations with him. Alissa loves her cousin, Jerome, and he loves her, but Alissa is also devoutly religious, and comes to believe that the two cannot marry because they would love each other more than they love God. This ultimately ends in tragedy and loss. It's hard for a modern atheist to fully understand Ali ...more
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life...… there ain't going to be many of us making it to heaven. Alissa certainly will, she is so ardent in her self-denying Protestantism that she foregoes happiness in favour of her sister Juliette. However, Jerome loves her and not Juliettte, and he spends the novel banging his head against her holy intransigence until her martyrdom has the inevitable casualties. Gide might have been writing a simple tale of doomed love, but ...more
Olive Parker
nooo don’t value religious virtue over love ur so sexy aha
Henry Phillips
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read with L'Immoraliste in mind. Gide is a master of anguish and heartbreak. In spite of this I preferred L'Immoraliste. Maybe because of the scandal. Still, I am in awe of Gide. ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel of young love. It does not end happily. This is the third Gide novel I have read (after The Counterfeiters and The Vatican Cellars). The Vatican Cellars is my favorite but this novel goes down easy.
Tiffany Katz
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love, as defined by Gide, is frankly impossible.
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Reading 1001: Strait Is the Gate by André Gide 1 7 Sep 17, 2018 08:29PM  

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André Paul Guillaume Gide was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1947. Gide's career ranged from its beginnings in the symbolist movement, to the advent of anticolonialism between the two World Wars.

Known for his fiction as well as his autobiographical works, Gide exposes to public view the conflict and eventual reconciliation between the two sides of his personality, s

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