Adventures in Reading

Revisted: Strait is the Gate by André Gide

I first heard about André Gide, I believe, while reading one of T.C. Boyle’s short stories. It was some off handed reference but I found myself picking up Strait is the Gate. The book had lived on my shelf for quite some time before I arrived at this point. The plot is intriguing but somewhat generic: two sisters fall in love with the same man. Some interesting twists occur: the man is rejected by both sisters and the book ends developing both of the sister’s positions in the relationship (otherwise the book is narrated by the man). However, the book increasingly became annoying as the relationships flounder for insignificant reasons. Even by the end of the novel, once reasons of sacrifice and a hire calling are pursued, one still stops and wonders: say what? Strait is the Gate is filled with a misogynistic tendency of consistent and regular female sacrifice for the higher calling of a man. It’s interesting in its fashion and a short read but the constant referencing of the childlike love is very true – it’s a very immature and over romanticized love that blossoms.

I need to reread Strait is the Gate. I don’t know if my opinion of it would alter in any fashion, but I do think I ought to give it a second chance. Strait is the Gate (a biblical quote I believe) is another novel, like Love in the Time of Cholera or Daughter of Fortune, that explores a theme of immature or naive love. It has the sticky and sickly sweet expression that these other novels have where the reader must dive in suppressing a good deal of cynicism.

Other opinions: Asylum.


Strait is the Gate should be read together with the Immoralist. They are “twin books”.
It is not about naive love, but about pushing a life style to the extreme. Christian virtue for Strait is the Gate, respectively sensualism for the Immoralist.
Alissa, the heroine, sacrifices herself vainly, for she fails entering Heaven to the strait gate since her last thought is for her lover that she left behind. While Alissa bears some of his wife’s features, she is actually a depiction of the author himself. Madeleine’s virtue was never searched or vain, but his was at a point in his life.

Comment by Anamari

Anamari: I will definitely have to take a look at The Immortalist. Should one be read before the other? Thanks for the comments and when I do finally get around to rereading the novel I’ll keep “pushing a life style to the extreme” in mind.

Comment by bookchronicle

I do not think the order does matter. And if you like them and would like to find more about the author, there is an web site I found quite helpful:

Comment by anamari

Anamari: Thanks to your advice, I have gone ahead and Bookmooched The Immortal and look forward to reading this sequence of books. Once again, thanks for the advice and the link!

Comment by bookchronicle

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