Translated by Richard Howard. Farrar, Straus, Giroux. As Richard Howard informs us in one of the relatively straightforward paragraphs of his introduction to this latest edition, Gide began these four ''dialogues'' in ; two of them were published in an unsigned edition of 12 copies in ; 21 copies of all four dialogues along with a preface, still unsigned, were published in It was not until that the full signed work appeared. The reason for all the tentativeness was the subject - homosexuality, or as the condition is variously referred to in these pages, ''pederasty,'' ''inversion,'' ''uranism'' ''degeneracy. Virgil's Corydon was a shepherd who longed for a fellow shepherd.
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These works won Gide the Nobel Prize in Unfortunately, the man he decides to kill turns out to be a vital cog in the aforementioned Pope v. Masons business. Hilarity of the darkest shades ensues. Anyone who reads my book essays knows that I like picking up books from used book shops, antique stores, and other such places.
The history of how I obtained this gem is slightly remarkable, so I share it here. I bought it from my local public library who was reducing inventory. I think I paid 50 cents or a dollar for each book. And it needs no updating; it works great.
Corydon is presented as a series of dialogues whether these are Socratic or Platonic I leave to those who make such fine distinctions to decide. The unnamed narrator visits with and discusses the nature of human sexuality with an old friend, one Corydon the name is chosen for obvious reasons.
This Corydon is a doctor — and a homosexual — and engages the narrator in a series of dialogues concerning the role of homosexuality in the natural world, in culture and society, in the arts. Corydon offers sets of arguments for his assertions from each of the above mentioned fields.
His argument from science relies on attempting to show that males are naturally more sexually active than females, and that in many species where males outnumber females that male-male sexual relationships offer outlets for all that male sexual energy. His argument from the arts is, more than anything, merely a claim that since many important artists have been homosexual, then periods of great artistic achievement are somehow spawned by periods of high homosexual activity he cites Golden Age Greece and Elizabethan England as prime examples.
The cultural argument fails because numerous historians have shown that women were not valued, respected, or given honors in ancient Greece. All that said, Gide is, of course right that homosexuality is a natural state for humans and that attempts to repress, shame, or otherwise regulate it based upon religious or social beliefs are mistaken. No less an expert on sexuality than Frank Beach , in an essay on the Second Dialogue of Corydon, offers the same conclusion.
Gide is known, as I have noted, as a provocateur. In Corydon , he invokes ancient Greece as a cultural model and evidentiary support for public acceptance of homosexuality. Ultimately, Corydon is a brave attempt by a gay man to defend being gay. Misguided even detestable though some of his views are, hapless as some of his evidence is, he has an important point and he makes it.
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Nobel prize winner Gide considered this work his crowning achievement. Published in French in , the book is divided into four "dialogs" on homosexuality and its place in the world. This is probably more for academics, but public libraries serving gay communities will also want it. Gide, the reflective rebel against bourgeois morality and one of the most important and controversial figures in modern European literature, published his first book anonymously at the age of Gide was born in Paris, the only child of a law professor and a strict Calvinist mother. As a young man, he was an ardent member of the symbolist group, but the style of his later work is more in the tradition of classicism.
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These works won Gide the Nobel Prize in Unfortunately, the man he decides to kill turns out to be a vital cog in the aforementioned Pope v. Masons business. Hilarity of the darkest shades ensues. Anyone who reads my book essays knows that I like picking up books from used book shops, antique stores, and other such places. The history of how I obtained this gem is slightly remarkable, so I share it here.