By David H. Walker (auth.)
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Jerome points out that the pastor's sermon, with its austere lesson, found in him a soul 'ready prepared and naturally predisposed to duty', since, as he puts it, 'Selfcontrol was as natural to me as self-indulgence to others, and this severity to which I was subjected, far from being irksome to me, was soothing' (506; 20). This is a familiar problem in Gide's universe. The insidious attraction of restraint, discipline and austerity is that for certain types of personality they are roundabout forms of self-indulgence.
59 The novel exemplifies Brooks's notion of'narrative as a process of dynamic exchange' between teller and listener, between text and reader; and in the final analysis it is this exchange or transaction which is the stuff of the narrative, rather than an autonomous diegesis. The meaning of the text is, precisely, the reader's inability to sum up or definitively assess Michel's project. If this is a frustrating conclusion, it is also a mark of the reader's dialogic implication in the text; and this in turn reproduces a figure which is perhaps the text's own most telling statement about its sense.
This is a familiar problem in Gide's universe. The insidious attraction of restraint, discipline and austerity is that for certain types of personality they are roundabout forms of self-indulgence. Far from going against First-Person Narratives 45 his true nature, self-denial in fact comes naturally to Jerome. This paradox whereby privation is a source of gratification in the context of a certain puritanism might be held to remove any moral value from codes of conduct which find their justification in the difficulty associated with the pursuit of a given ideal.
André Gide by David H. Walker (auth.)