André Gide with his daughter Catherine Lambert, 1947

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2 thoughts on “André Gide with his daughter Catherine Lambert, 1947

  1. André Gide and Catherine Gide

    Catherine Gide, the daughter of André Gide, and probably the last surviving link to early-twentieth-century French literature, has died at the age of ninety. Some will no doubt be surprised to read that the writer, who made his homosexuality public, had a daughter at all (she was his only child). Catherine was born in 1923, when Gide was in his early fifties.

    Gide had married his cousin Madeleine Rondeaux in 1895. In his autobiography Si le grain ne meurt, Gide wrote “Mon amour pour celle que j’avais décidé d’épouser me persuadait de ceci: qu’elle avait besoin de moi, si moi je n’avais pas besoin d’elle, de moi spécialement, pour être heureuse” (My love for the woman I had decided to marry convinced me of this: that she had need of me, even if I had no need of her, of me specially in order to be happy). As is so often the case when Gide writes about himself (and he did so a great deal), it results in questionable sentiments beautifully expressed – carefully calculated self-revelation dressed up as naked confession.

    The (unhappy) marriage was unconsummated and it was in the early stages of it that Gide properly discovered his homosexuality – an awakening that led to books such as L’Immoraliste and Les Nourritures terrestres. He took up with the very much younger Marc Allégret, the son of a family friend and later a filmmaker, with whom he travelled widely, including to the Congo: Gide’s Voyage au Congo, in which he denounced the brutality of Belgian colonialism, is one of his best books.

    The relationship that produced Catherine was with Élisabeth (“Beth”) Van Rysselberghe, the daughter of the Belgian painter Théo Van Rysselberghe, who was a friend of the writer. Théo’s wife Maria was one of Gide’s closest confidants. Élisabeth had been Rupert Brooke’s lover. She travelled frequently in company with Gide and Allégret. And brought up their daughter.

    Catherine became a true keeper of the flame for her father’s work, overseeing its appearance in the prestigious Pléiade series. In 2007 she set up the Fondation Catherine Gide whose resources she made available to writers and researchers (The Fondation have published a death notice in Le Monde for April 25). She also wrote a foreword to the posthumous Le Ramier (woodpigeon), which was published in 2002 and recounts a sexual encounter between the writer and a young farm boy. She revealed that she had found among her father’s papers “a short erotic novella, dated 1907 and titled The Woodpigeon”. Later she writes “This short text is full of joie de vivre” – “Toute perversité en est totalement absente”.

  2. André Gide raconté par sa fille

    Catherine Gide est morte ce 20 avril 2013 à l’âge de 90 ans. Dans un livre d’entretiens paru en 2009, elle avait raconté le secret de sa naissance et ses drôles de parents

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