By Jocelyn Van Tuyl
The 1st entire learn of Gide’s overlooked wartime writings.
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Extra info for Andre Gide and the Second World War: A Novelist's Occupation
A cautious but highly public appeal came from writer Jules Romains, who, like Thomas Mann, had chosen selfimposed exile in America. 27 Other appeals, made privately, were more concrete. The first came from Max-Pol Fouchet, founder of the Algiers journal Fontaine, an early resistance periodical. In July 1940, Fouchet contacted writers whose prestige could help Fontaine’s mission of opposition. Foremost among these was André Gide, whose reply proved disappointing: unsure of the course events would take— unsure even of his own opinions—the writer preferred to wait before committing himself (Fouchet 123–24).
As Walter Putnam has argued, the German propagandists responsible for this pamphlet were presenting Gide’s highly critical travelogue as “evidence that the French were unworthy allies of the British and Americans” (93). The following year, the political-intellectual machine in occupied Paris would also seek to enlist André Gide to bolster the legitimacy of the Académie Française, whose wartime membership included many mediocre but politically “cooperative” writers (Lepape 430). V. ([Academician Paul] Valéry) sends word to Uncle G.
Which he heard three times through his open window. The next morning, Arnold Naville explained that it was not a bereft man seeking a lost loved one, but the night watchman crying “Lumière! ” [“Lights! ”] each time he saw a lighted window—in this case, Gide’s own (J II: 699; J 4: 21). Sensitive to the caller’s distress, Gide was nevertheless oblivious to the ways he might be endangering others with his open, lighted window. The window incident, like the entire trip northward to Vichy, is emblematic of the extent to which Gide was out of sync with the rest of the French population during this time of crisis—suffering deeply, but moving, behaving, and often thinking against the grain.
Andre Gide and the Second World War: A Novelist's Occupation by Jocelyn Van Tuyl