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The Immoralist

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  9,050 ratings  ·  623 reviews
In The Immoralist , André Gide presents the confessional account of a man seeking the truth of his own nature. The story's protagonist, Michel, knows nothing about love when he marries the gentle Marceline out of duty to his father. On the couple's honeymoon to Tunisia, Michel becomes very ill, and during his recovery he meets a young Arab boy whose radiant health and ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1902)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  9,050 ratings  ·  623 reviews

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Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: thoughtful individuals who can reflect critically
Recommended to Jaidee by: have wanted to read for a very long time.
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "satanic, provocative, deceptive" stars.

5th Favorite Read of 2016

This book mesmerized and shocked me in equal measure.

Beautiful in its writing, quiet in its execution, seductive in its message and destructive in its implications.

The book begins with a suppressed young dutiful intellectual and ends with a despairing debauched and self-deluded libertine. In between is some of the most exquisite writing and the transformation of a young man from upstanding citizen to a malignant narcissist.

Ahmad Sharabiani
778. L'immoraliste = The Immoralist, André Gide
The Immoralist is a novel by André Gide, published in France in 1902.
The Immoralist is a recollection of events that Michel narrates to his three visiting friends. One of those friends solicits job search assistance for Michel by including in a letter to Monsieur D. R., President du Conseil, a transcript of Michel's first-person account. Important points of Michel's story are his recovery from tuberculosis; his attraction to a series of Arab boys
I wish I had read L’Immoraliste around the year 1904. That would have been about two years after it was published and about two years before Picasso started distorting eyes and mouths and jaws and limbs in his painted prostitutes.

I am trying to picture myself dressed in yards and yards of bombazine, chiffon and lace, shapely cut to follow my already markedly thin waist, thanks to those bone stays that have cinched it into a harness, sorry, a corset. I need to feel the effort of breathing in,
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Knowing how to free oneself is nothing; the difficult thing is knowing how to live with that freedom”

Freedom is perhaps the heaviest of the burdens to carry through our lives. For to be free means to get rid of all references, all dogmas, but how could one get rid of those; for all the ethics and moral codes, we have developed over ages though evolution, define our societal structures. And to maintain order in our society we need these structures or least that is how we know it. How terrifying
Rakhi Dalal
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
What conjures up in the mind at the mere mention of the word ‘morality’ is a question that our evolutionary advanced mankind hasn’t been able to find an appropriate response to. For all the ethics and moral codes defining the very basis of societal structure, morality still remains a vague ideal. Vague not because there is a dearth of reasons associated with the necessity or goodness of moral values required for a harmonious existence of humans in the society but because the certainty of actions ...more
Paul Bryant
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Yeah well how immoral could things really get when this thin novel was published in 1902? It turns out – quite immoral. Our narrator, Michel, gradually finds out that what he really wants to do is not to write dry essays on Gothic antiquities and buy another elaborate hat for his pallid wife, no, what he really wants to do is have sex with young boys. So he does.

Michel is the very person who these days would be arrested at the airport on returning from his three month holiday in Vietnam. In his
Samra Yusuf
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
When we are growing children, we have so many fantasies of countless things, we have our own interpretations of the phenomena of nature, Imagination of a bearded old man dwelling in sky as God, Rain from sky as tears of angels, angry trees shedding leaves, fairies visiting only good children at night, and so many and many….
They all sound sweet to ears, even stupid but sweet..
But what if a grown adult of five and twenty, fantasizes those children a source of his “melancholic pleasure” what if he
i feel a little dirty reading this sandwiched between all my children's books for class. kids, take three giant steps back from gide... i think i loved this book, but i think i may want to read another translation. who knows from translations?? i have the richard howard one here, and i know he's like a star in the french/english translation world but i didn't like his introduction to this so much, and was wondering if there might be another recommended translation? i liked this book a lot, ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit

My second Gide book and I quite enjoyed it. It’s a story about a young man, Michel, narrating his life, how he learned more about himself through introspection while getting married and witnessing tragedies. Travelling around Europe and North Africa, rootless. It’s essentially a tale of self-discovery.

In tone this book really reminded me of Camus. I was expecting something a little more shocking as I heard this book was considered scandalous at the turn of the last century.There were homosexual
K.D. Absolutely
Dec 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010); Nobel Prize for Literature
Shelves: 1001-core, nobel, french
If you are a bisexual, will you marry?

Andre Gide (1869-1951) was a French author and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947. So, this book, despite its theme on homosexuality, should not be brand or worse, mock, as another gay lit book.

The story revolves around a bisexual man, Michel, who has devoted his early years to his studies so he becomes a scholar. Then, to please his dying father, he gets himself a wife, Marceline and the young couple goes to North Africa for their honeymoon.
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, france
Well written, but ultimately unsatisfying. I'm certain that I would have a stronger feeling about this book if I lived during a time when homosexuals were made to repress their true selves, imperialism was the word of the day, monotony was taking over the workforce, Arabs were looked down upon by much of western culture, tourists paid meager rates to third-world children for labor services and sexual favors, a huge percentage of visual artists and intellectuals were snobby and pretentious, too ...more
Parthiban Sekar
Immorality is often, from time immemorial, attributed more to one’s sexual orientation, as if immorality is born out of it. Long, not very long, ago there was this Man-Made Immorality Act, upon which I won’t expound, which makes me think that all we, somehow, describe as Immoral are defined by us. And at times, we seem confounded by our own definitions. The very idea of Morality seems “extrinsic”, as opposed to the wide-spread belief that we are born as moral beings and any deviation would not ...more
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
The Casbah, 1895 ~ Roaming from bar to bar in Algiers, Oscar Wilde and Gide (1869-1951) find themselves amid Zouaves and sailors, as Gide records elsewhere. "Do you want the little musician?" asks OW, whose own lips seemed "as if soft with milk and ready to suck again," says the symbolist Marcel Schwob.

OW is not Mephistopheles. Young Gide, having hurled aside his moralistic, Protestant upbringing, had already been playing both Marguerite & Faust in N. Africa with a "special friend." He
The companion volume to La Porte Etroite . In the first book, Gide looks at what happens when someone allows themselves to become obsessed with the idea of God, to the exclusion of all normal human feelings. In this one, he shows what happens when you go to the other extreme and abandon moral values altogether. Taken as a pair, which is what he intended, I thought they were very good.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Michel: blah bah (coughs up blood) blah blah blah blah blah blah (wife coughs up blood) blah blah blah (wife dies) blah blah.
The reader: whatever.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never felt that it is in any way important to like or admire the main character in a novel. It seems to me far more important that language and structure should be used to support a narrative that convinces us about the authenticity of everything that happens within the novel. So it is with 'The Immoralist'

I dislike Michel, the narrator and central character of the book, but I am persuaded that everything he does in the book is, for him, unavoidable. With every advance in his thinking, as
Steven Godin
From the pen of André Gide "The Immoralist" explores the fundamental problem of the moral conditions of our existence, using man and wife as the subject matter on how the gap between what we once were and how to perceive what lies ahead of us. Published in 1902 where it was received as tedious with moments to shock, Gide glides with an artsy format through the loveless marriage of Michel and Marceline who travel to Tunisia for their honeymoon only for Marcel to come down with serious ill health, ...more
Jim Fonseca
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: french-authors
This is a strange tale, almost a parable. A young Frenchman marries a young woman and anticipates a wonderful life. But he is so anxious to live life to the fullest and experience everything that he drags his wife with him even when she is ill. Even he does not seem to know what he is looking for except somehow to “live life to the fullest.” Eventually his wife develops tuberculosis and still he wears her out traveling, and she dies. He doesn’t skip a beat and keeps on going. He is trying too ...more
Apr 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
Absolutely stunning portrayal of a French Catholic repressive confronting his (homo) sexuality at the turn of last century. I deliberately write ‘confronting’ rather than ‘journey of discovery’, ‘development’ or any other word which might imply a process of evolvement leading to clarity or even acceptance, for this is singularly missing. What unravels instead, is a sublime subconscious, torturous confrontation, an unwanted, unspoken clash of instinct and reason. And this is what makes the fibre ...more
Mike Puma
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
With a title like The Immoralist, you might expect something along the lines of Sade. You’d be way off base. Instead, this novel is more subtle, more like Death in Venice, complete with its themes of a septic environment, tuberculosis, and, perhaps, pederasty. The protagonist, Michel, is captivated by healthy and strikingly handsome boys and young men, and of those young men, he is attracted to those who are most rugged and handsome, with their own secrets, or the most dissolute.

At best, or at
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Andre Gide's small confession is a key work of French modernism. In a way this novel is a precursor to Camus' Stranger, though it is much more elegant and subtle than the latter.

Michel is the titular Immoralist, a man determined to live life fully without the arbitrary constrictions of religion or morality. He is recently married to a woman he admits he does not love; but when he falls ill to tuberculosis her loving comfort wins him over.

Together they travel throughout the beautiful coast of
Jun 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in philosophy
I think my problem with this book is that I've heard this all before. And better said. This novel said it a long time before they did, and it got blasted for it. It was a huge controversy since this deals with sexual confusion, a rebellion against colonialist/imperialist values, a rebellion against the inertia and the status quo. That's all great, but it's done so simplisticially. It's like reading the blueprint for the rebellion/inner transformation novel. And the problem is that it's just a ...more
MJ Nicholls
My foray into Frenchies continues with this peculiar, off-the-scale subtle novel about forbidden pleasures. The pleasures in question are young lads and loosing one’s morals. Michel starts out as a bedridden lump, unsure about his wife but sure about young Tunisian visitors. As his health improves, he tends to his vast acreage of land and resumes his academic work, growing fonder of his doormat missus, as well as power and cheating farmers. As we slump towards the final third, his wife becomes ...more
In days of yore, when Hollywood movies were heavily censored, the creative people who were having the most fun were the artists responsible for painting the lurid promo posters aimed at sucking gullible audiences into the theaters. Images of half-naked women with torn garments that barely covered their nipples and genitalia dangled limp in the arms of some salivating brute or monster or cad, surrounded by exploding words like "SIN!" and "SHAME!" and "UNSPEAKABLE!" promised far more than the ...more
Justin Evans
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Well, I liked this more than I thought I would, and more than everyone else seems to. Gide's style here is glorious. Like Larbaud, the prose is perfectly clear, a little elegiac, but also as precise as possible. Gide's tale is simple, but thought-provoking: you could read this as a celebration of Nietzschean uber-menschdom, but only if you're more or less an inhuman prick; you could read it as a plea for repression and moralistic priggery, but only if, again, you're an inhuman prick. On the ...more
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was good overall but certainly not as good as strait is the gate. This book is about a couple who are well off enough to travel around Europe to some of its major cities and build the relationship and love they have for each other. The husband first falls ill and then it’s the turn of the wife near the end. Gide seems to have taken a formula that works and applied it where he gets one of the 2 main protagonists finished off by the end of the book. It moved me in places but not ...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jun 04, 2014 rated it did not like it

Plainly put, the novel reads like a story of pedophile glorified. I couldn't finish as I had a hard time liking a novelist whose hero is exactly like him. They both have special craving for boys. According to his autobiographical memoir, If it Die, between 1893 and 1894, Gide traveled in Northern Africa, and it was there that he came to accept his attraction to boys. And being North African myself, this troubles me greatly. What if I had invited Gide for dinner just to discover he "likes", feels
An odd book in some ways - it is almost entirely told as a first person narrative about a man Michel who almost dies and in his recovery, becomes "reborn" in a way but lost in another way. This novella doesn't feel dated (with the exception that it is now rare for people to contract tuberculosis), and perhaps the new translation has something to do with that...

I don't know if this is considered to be existentialist, but Michel goes from being a student of languages and history to someone
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, nobel-winners
In Gide's The Immoralist, we are given the story of a man's moral decline from his own self-pitying and apologist point of view. The narrator is Michel, a man who is rather comfortably provided for following his father's death, he is a classics scholar, a traveller, and a morally misguided and ambiguous character. He marries a young woman who he does not have feeling for, to satisfy his father's wish to see him married off before his own death, and validates this choice with the appraisal that ...more
Barry Pierce
I picked up three books by André Gide once without even knowing who he was. I just saw the little paperbacks sitting on the bookshop shelf and I immediately assured them that they were getting a new home. Jump to a year later and I’ve finally decided to read them. Gide is a name that has become slightly lost in the 21st century. He has been overtaken by his contemporaries; Apollinaire, Cocteau, Celine, and of course Proust. Gide however trumped all of these names by being awarded the Nobel Prize ...more
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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,
“Envying another man's happiness is madness; you wouldn't know what to do with it if you had it.” 185 likes
“You have to let other people be right' was his answer to their insults. 'It consoles them for not being anything else.” 131 likes
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