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  • André Gide, une œuvre à l'épreuve de l'économie by Ryo Morii
  • Patrick Pollard
André Gide, une œuvre à l'épreuve de l'économie. Par Ryo Morii. (Bibliothèque gidienne, 3.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017. 313 pp.

In seeking to analyse the presence of economic theory in some of Gide's works, Ryo Morii has adopted a challenging perspective, relying in part on the ideas of Charles Gide, and taking recent commentators' interpretations into account. We would all agree about the metaphorical role of money in Les Faux-Monnayeurs, but Morii casts his net more widely to encompass Gide's earlier writings, thus enabling him to discuss any interpersonal transaction as exchange. The notion of 'l'économie comptable du moi' (p. 48) is defined as an aspect of individualism within the context of social solidarity, and debt is analysed as an essential factor in our understanding of human relationships. So where does this leave any theory which implies that outright individualism is a public good whether actual (as in the case of Prométhée in Le Prométhée mal enchaîné), or metaphorical (as in an autarkic system implying political duty in Philoctète)? From this perspective, relationships can be seen through a consumerist rather than a psychological lens. But more attention should have been given to Gide's ironic form of discourse. Morii raises several important questions: if the acte gratuit is a possible concept, does this imply the existence of a don gratuit? If so, then a market of responsibilities will have been created. However, there are also 'secrets' (personal or fictional) which interrupt the flow of exchange. As for private ownership—the principal good of the bourgeois state—what does Gide's refusal to be tied down by possessions reveal about people's opinion of him as an 'avare généreux' (p. 21)? In his life he was generous to his friends, and he appeared [End Page 451] parsimonious because of his own asceticism. Morii further asks whether this paradox is true of his fictional and dramatic characters, for their positions are often in contradiction with each other. Disponibilité, with its refusal to accept ownership and social responsibility, is seen as a repeated theme in the works Gide wrote before 1914. Although no account is given here of Marxist economic theory, and nothing much is said of Gide's financial investments, Morii seeks to define the true nature of Gide's diverse forms of 'communism', particularly after 1918. The 'histoire de Tityre' from Le Prométhée mal enchaîné, which is here analysed in detail, certainly has a negative edge, and the secret societies in Les Caves du Vatican and Les Faux-Monnayeurs are undeniably disruptive. Social solidarity is not always what it seems.

Patrick Pollard
Birkbeck, University of London


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pp. 451-452
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