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I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 10 February 2017

"Strait is the Gate" by Andre Gide

This is another strange book by Gide who also wrote The Immoralist and The Vatican Cellars, neither of which seems to be a straightforward narrative conforming to standard story structure. But I far preferred them. Not sure I could recommend Strait is the Gate but I certainly can the others. Gide is an interesting writer although sometimes difficult. Strait is the Gate was, apparently, his first novel.

Jerome loves his cousin Alissa; she loves him. But she won't get engaged. Initially it seems that she believes that her sister Juliette is in love with him and she is ceding her place (although his friend Abel, later author of erotic best sellers Wantonness and The New Abelard has asked to marry Juliette). But when J gets married to a wine seller, Alissa realises that she won't marry Jerome because if she does he won't find God.

Umm.

Not really my sort of thing.

And lots of purple prose.

My pet hate
In the present book the difficulty is exacerbated by the fact that the translator seems content to render Gide's prose into English but when Gide quotes another French author to leave it in French. This isn't too bad when we are talking about a pair of lines of poetry but when it extends to almost a page worth it infuriates me. If I could read French why would I read a translation? How do I know that I haven't missed out a crucial bit? Am I supposed to use Google Translate? This happens time and again in books. Why is it done?


  • "Do you think that death is able to part? ... I think that death, on the contrary, is able to bring together." (p 33) This reminded me of sentiments expressed by Jonathan Dollimore in his brilliant book Death, Desire and Loss in Western Culture
  • "The sky was orientally pure." (p 43)


February 2017; 128 pages

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