Andre Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy

Andre Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy

Andre Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy

Andre Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy


This book makes a powerful and somtimes contentious contribution to current debates in gender, feminist, and queer theory. Tracing the hydraulic image in a range of theoretical texts on pedagogy, pederasty, reproductive fantasy, and the anthropology of body fluids, Naomi Segal goes on to examine this imagery in the writings of Andr¿ Gide. Gide's sexuality was explicitly central to everything he wrote, but it was complex and diverse, motivated as much by undesire as by curiosity and the chase. The ventriloquism of the female voice, versions of triangularity, the potentially endless male chain, the desire of sun on skin, a sideways genealogy, and the gratuity of crime, education, virtue, or playthese mobile patterns are found throughout his fiction and non-fiction. In Gide's polemic, it is always better to be loved by an uncle than an aunt; but all love is motivated by the fluidity of the swerve.


At the end of March 1930, while writing Geneviève, Gide noted in his Journal:

I find it easy to escape from myself and, supplanted by a personality different from my own, I can let go with perfect abandon and no sense of opposition, and let that other personality express itself through me exactly as it should. But I get no satisfaction from writing in a feminine manner, as the pen flows, and everything I write in that way displeases me. (J ii. 194)

Used as we are to Gide's hydraulic way of speaking about desire, we must find this statement paradoxical for a number of reasons. After all, in its most obvious vulgar Freudian significance, it puts the penis/pen where he claims to be at his most feminine, letting it all run out, exhausting himself but without the least pleasure or gratification. Have we returned to the fear of unstoppable flow that seemed to underlie the wish to test virility to the point of the empty body? What happens if that emptied body turns out, at its most entirely depleted, to be the body of a woman?

This way of writing was not always construed as unpleasant: three years earlier he had noted: 'all the best things I have written have been written at once, without labour, fatigue or boredom' (J ii. 41). and when he first talked about L'École des femmes in January 1927, he smiled as he told his friends: '"It's a new novel, which so far I'm writing as the pen flows"' (cpd i. 302), although he added three months later: '"what I've done is just written as the pen flows, so it needs some filing and all comments are welcome"' (cpd i. 322). in some peculiar way, when he separates self from text, the very ease of production produces unease: 'this book holds hardly any interest for me and my mind does not turn to it with any spontaneity' (J ii. 89), he comments in September 1928--a complaint he was to repeat endlessly over the many years he spent on the third part of the trilogy. On the other hand, masculinity may seem to be what opens . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.