Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Mother by Andre Gide

Andre Gide (1869 to 1851, Paris) won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1947.   I think his most famous work is The Counterfieters.  It has been too many decades since I have read Gide.   He was a deeply learned and cultured man, a scion of the reading and writing life. 

"My Mother" is a very moving story about the complicated dynamics of the relationship of man to his mother, a relationship which in all its great wonder in an emotional minefield.   Things change between a mother and her adult son when the father dies, Gide's story is a masterful explication of this subtly powerful truth.  When both parents live, the mother is half of a team, defined by her spousal and maternal relationships, not by her own personhood.  

As the story opens we enter the consciousness of both parties as they think about the relationship of the mother to her late husband.   She never knew if he was satisfied with her as a wife or not.  The son sees her begin to gradually change her behavior, at a party where she would once have been a quiet demure wife, she is outgoing and seems to actively seek to win the approval of those with whom she speaks. The son, who was at the party, begins to wonder why she had changed, what lacuna is she seeking to fill.  The son begins to wonder what aspects of his mother's personality are authentic and what are social masks.  He begins to see his mother in himself.   

This story was translated by Raymond Mortimer.  I read it in an excellent collection of short stories, Great Short Stories of the Masters edited by Charles Neider.  

This is my third year as a participant in the Paris in July Reading Event hosted by Book Bath and Thyme for Tea.   I find this a very interesting and creative event of the sort that helps build the book blog community.  You will find  lots of reading ideas on the host blogs.

Mel u


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