Weaving in and out of Africa: Gide's entanglements in "L'Immoraliste", "Les Faux-monnayeurs", "Voyage au Congo", and "Thesee"

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

David R. Ellison - Committee Chair


This study analyzes the rich pliability of an underlying organizational principle, enchevetrement, in four Gidian texts of varying genres. Through Gide's reflections on the process of literary creation, excerpts from his Journal, and the consideration of a myriad of additional compositions, his fascination with webs, interlocking patterns, and intricate structures alternating between brilliant complexity and impenetrability emerges. Although landscape, sexuality, narrative framing, travel, and the ineluctable pull of Africa all enter into the argumentation of this research, it is the very interweaving of these strands into a unified pattern that directs the analysis. Through a principle concentration on etymological, philosophical, and narratological foundations, this study most importantly mobilizes Gide's own terminology as a critical tool for examination of his creative works.L'Immoraliste, an orchestrated treatise on the oppositional forces of nature and culture staged in Europe and North Africa, serves as the base text from which to explore Gide's engagement with the dynamic of enchevetrement. Les Faux-monnayeurs, Gide's showpiece of technical virtuosity, denounces artifice at various levels while a substratum of sub-Saharan Africa cyclically emerges. Voyage au Congo , composed just following Gide's only novel, provides new models of enchevetrement; as Gide encounters both unfamiliar botanical forets and unprecedented ethical complexities, his text reflects the multi-leveled thicket in which he becomes enmeshed while navigating otherness. These diverse texts of chronological succession share certain key preoccupations of the author. Thesee, finally, stands as a culmination of Gide's experimentations as it offers multiple examples of literal and figurative enchevetrements and suggests a resolution of oppositional forces that his texts have explored.Enchevetrement is demonstrated to be a highly malleable term serving as a sign of a nature/culture dynamic in continual evolution throughout Gide's work. Bordering between conscious deployment and spontaneous occurrence, it provides a substructure indicating continuity among highly disparate works spanning over half a century.


Literature, Romance

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