Born in Paris, the son of a Sorbonne law professor who died when he was 11, Gide had an irregular and lonely upbringing before entering into the coterie surrounding Oscar Wilde. Beginning as an essayist, Gide had emerged by 1917 as a prophet for French youth, an object of endless debate and attack. His first novel, Strait is the Gate (La Porte étroite; 1909), tells of two cousins, Alissa and Jérôme, growing up together and falling in love. Alissa begins to believe, however, that Jérôme's love for her is imperilling his soul and so, for his salvation, sets about suppressing everything that's beautiful in herself—in both her mind and body. As well as broad metaphor for all forms of forbidden love, the novel is a powerful exploration of the destructive force lying within spirituality. The Immoralist (1902) is a more explicit parallel of Gide's own rebellion against social and sexual conformity. In 1947 Gide was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Oscar Wilde, Albert Camus RP