The Unrepentant Prodigal: Gide’s Classical Politics and Republican Nationalism, 1897–1909

  • M. Martin Guiney


At the turn of the century, Maurice Barrés, well-established mentor of young writers, and André Gide, known then only to a small circle of readers, engaged in a polemic over Barrès’s novel Les Déracinés (1897).1 Nationalism was the ostensible issue, or whether or not déracinement [uprooting], understood as the alienation from one’s geographic and genetic origins, caused the decline of culture; the issue of literary influence (Barrès’s abundance, Gide’s lack thereof) lurks as an ulterior concern on Gide’s part, although it will not be the focus of my analysis. The question that Gide’s polemic with Barrés, his texts on nationalism and literature, and his story Le Retour de l’enfant prodigue (1907) can answer is the following: where did Gide stand in regard to the nationalist issue, and how is his stance different from Barrès’s absolute belief in the authority of “la terre et les morts”, land and authority?


French Literature Artistic Success Cultural Hegemony Classical Style French Culture 
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© Tom Conner 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Martin Guiney

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