André Gide and Curiosity
This comprehensive exploration of curiosity in the fiction and life-writing of André Gide (1869–1951) is an important modernist contribution to the field of curiosity in literature and cultural studies more broadly. Curiosity was a credo for Gide. By observing the world and then manifesting in writing these observations, he stimulates the curiosity of readers, conceived as virtual conduits of a curiosity once his own. Using a thematic structure of sexual, scientific and writerly curiosity, this volume identifies processes of curiosity in the life-writing (including the travel-writing) which illuminate processes in the fiction, and vice versa. Theories of fetishism, gender and sexuality are applied to Gide’s corpus to illustrate his championing of a masculine curiosity of enlightenment and adventure over a feminised ‘curiosité-défaillance’ of disobedience and harm, and to explore objects eliciting his incuriosity. Gide’s creativity is nourished by his curiosity, as close readings of his work informed by Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytic writing on epistemophilia reveal. Curiosity is a rewarding, non-reductionist perspective from which the exceptional variety of Gide’s subject matter, style and genre can be more coherently understood. Research draws principally on the six Pléiade volumes of Gide’s œuvre, published 1996–2009.