Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gide was born in Paris, France on November 22, 1869. His father was a Paris University professor of law and died 1880. His uncle was the political economist Charles Gide . Gide was brought up in isolated conditions in Normandy and became a prolific writer at an early age. In 1895, after his mother's death, he married his cousin Madeleine Rondeaux but the marriage remained unconsummated.
In 1891 Gide published his first novel, The Notebooks of Andre Walter (French: Les Cahiers d'André Walter). In 1893 and 1894 Gide traveled in northern Africa. He befriended Oscar Wilde in Algiers and later began to recognize his homosexual orientation. In 1896 he was mayor of La Roque-Baignard, a commune in Normandy.
In 1908 Gide helped found the literary magazine Nouvelle Revue française (The New French Review).
In the 1920s Gide became an inspiration for writers like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1923 he published a book on Fyodor Dostoyevsky; however, when he defended homosexuality in the public edition of Corydon (1924) he received widespread condemnation. He later considered this his most important work.
In 1923 he conceived a daughter named Catherine with another woman, Maria Van Rysselberghe. His wife Madeleine died in 1938. Later he used the background of his unconsummated marriage in his novel Et Nunc Manet in Te (1951).
From July 1926 to May 1927, he travelled through the French Equatorial Africa colony with his nephew Marc Allégret. He went successively in Middle Congo (now the Republic of the Congo), in Oubangui-Chari (now the Central African Republic), briefly in Chad and then in Cameroun before returning to France. He related his peregrinations in a journal called Travels in the Congo (French: Voyage au Congo) and Return from Chad (French: Retour du Tchad). In this published journal, he criticized the behavior of French business interests in the Congo and inspired reform. In particular, he strongly criticized the Large Concessions regime (French: régime des Grandes Concessions), i.e. a regime according to which part of the colony was conceded to French companies and where these companies could exploit all area's natural resources, in particular rubber. He related for instance how natives were forced to leave their village during several weeks to collect rubber in the forest, and went as far as comparing their exploitation to slavery.
During the 1930s he briefly became a communist, but became disillusioned after his visit to Soviet Union. His criticism of communism caused him to lose many of his socialist friends, especially when he made a clean break with it in Retour de L'U.R.S.S. in 1936.
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