Andre Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy

By Naomi Segal | Go to book overview

5
The dangerous individual

THE title of this chapter is borrowed from a lecture given by Foucault in Toronto in 1978 in which he shows a very Gidean interest in the perpetrator of unexplained crime. He begins with the example of a young man convicted of five rapes and six attempted rapes. There is no doubt about the facts of his case; in this sense everything that needs to be established is known. Yet the whole judicial 'machinery jams, the gears seize up' because the accused cannot account for why he acted, for who he is.1 In another recent case--this time the trial of a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering a child--the defence lawyer puts it thus: '"Can one condemn to death a person one does not know?"' (p. 127).

The same question is behind Gide's copious collection of newspaper faits divers,2 and the publication of some largely uncommented cases in the Nouvelle Revue française from 1926 to 1928, later collected in a volume given the Christlike title Ne jugez pas ( 1930). Its preface specifies: 'we are interested here not in "great crimes" but in "cases" [affaires]--not necessarily criminal ones--whose motives remain mysterious and which fall outside the rules of traditional psychology and disconcert human justice.'3

Foucault's argument continues:

Legal justice today has at least as much to do with criminals as with crimes. Or more precisely, while, for a long time, the criminal had been no more than the person to whom a crime could be attributed and who could therefore be punished, today, the crime tends to be no more than the event

____________________
1
Michel Foucault, 'The Dangerous Individual', tr. Alain Baudot and Jane Couchman, in Politics, Philosophy, and Culture, 125-51; this quotation, p. 126.
2
See David Walker, Outrage and Insight ( Oxford: Berg, 1995), ch. 4, and Emily Apter, Feminizing the Fetish ( Ithaca, NY. Cornell University Press, 1991), ch. 9. One unpublished but ubiquitous example is the 'shepherd's diary', J ii. 69/1175 and CPD i. 356, with whose bucolic perversity Gide regaled Claude Mauriac, Raymond Mortimer, and many others.
3
Ne jugez pas ( Paris: Gallimard, 1930, 1957), 97; all quotations from this text will henceforth be prefaced NJP.

-210-

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Andre Gide: Pederasty and Pedagogy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • I - Pedagogy, Pederasty, Difference, and Desire 1
  • 2 - Gide's Body 41
  • 3 - Her Voice 118
  • 4 - Male Chains 169
  • 5 - The Dangerous Individual 210
  • 6 - Uncles and Aunts 253
  • 7 - Catherine and 'Victor' 299
  • 8 - Androgyde 342
  • Index 377
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