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By Thomas Cordle (auth.)

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Sample text

The poet, inspired with an enchanted vision, sings to the crowd, who immediately acclaim him their savior and leader. Thereafter he exercises a public charge and must repeat, without ins_piration, the promises that his people demand'·to hear. The myth so stated recalls an imperishable romantic theme illustrated by Vigny, Musset, Leconte de Lisle, Baudelaire, and Mallarme. In the last analysis, however, El Hadj is best interpreted in the manner of the previous works that we have considered, as the symbolic version of an event or situation in Gide's own life.

We do not know where our eagle comes from, or wh1, it comes, or who gives it, or where it leads, or why it is ours; but 'in any case the eagle devours us, vice or virtue, duty or passion• (RRS, 327). If the eagle is not fed with love he remains a wretched, colorless thing; "it is then that he wUl be called a conscience, unworthy of the torments that he causes" {RRS,327). Promethee is half hero, half god. As a hero, he undergoes the revelation of his freedom, which is his possibility of being himself, a unique personality constructed of self-dictated decisions.

Two decades later Gide gave it the generic label sotie (along with Le Promethee mal enchatne and Les Caves du Vatican). In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the sotie was a piece of merrymaking, a spoof, staged by the clerks of Paris. It offered the spectacle of a world of fools (sots) governed by a prince as foolish as any of his subjects. This is no doubt the sort of world that Gide aimed to portray in his soties. Paludes is a work of broad satire, as far removed in tone and style from Le Voy~ge d'Urien as that book was from Les Cahiers d'Andre Walter.

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