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'It's only after our death that we shall really be able to hear' The measured tone of hopeless nihilism that pervades The Counterfeiters quickly shatters any image of André Gide as the querulous and impious Buddha to a quarter-century of intellectuals. In sharp and brilliant prose a seedy, cynical and gratuitously alarming narrative is developed, involving a wide range of other 'It's only after our death that we shall really be able to hear' The measured tone of hopeless nihilism that pervades The Counterfeiters quickly shatters any image of André Gide as the querulous and impious Buddha to a quarter-century of intellectuals. In sharp and brilliant prose a seedy, cynical and gratuitously alarming narrative is developed, involving a wide range of otherwise harmless and mainly middle-to-upper-class Parisians. But the setting could be anywhere. From puberty through adolescence to death, The Counterfeiters is a rare encyclopedia of human disorder, weakness and despair.


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'It's only after our death that we shall really be able to hear' The measured tone of hopeless nihilism that pervades The Counterfeiters quickly shatters any image of André Gide as the querulous and impious Buddha to a quarter-century of intellectuals. In sharp and brilliant prose a seedy, cynical and gratuitously alarming narrative is developed, involving a wide range of other 'It's only after our death that we shall really be able to hear' The measured tone of hopeless nihilism that pervades The Counterfeiters quickly shatters any image of André Gide as the querulous and impious Buddha to a quarter-century of intellectuals. In sharp and brilliant prose a seedy, cynical and gratuitously alarming narrative is developed, involving a wide range of otherwise harmless and mainly middle-to-upper-class Parisians. But the setting could be anywhere. From puberty through adolescence to death, The Counterfeiters is a rare encyclopedia of human disorder, weakness and despair.

30 review for The Counterfeiters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Les faux-monnayeurs = The Counterfeiters, André Gide (André Paul Guillaume Gide) The Counterfeiters (French: Les Faux-monnayeurs) is a 1925 novel by French author André Gide, first published in Nouvelle Revue Française. With many characters and crisscrossing plot lines, its main theme is that of the original and the copy, and what differentiates them – both in the external plot of the counterfeit gold coins and in the portrayal of the characters' feelings and their relationships. The Counte Les faux-monnayeurs = The Counterfeiters, André Gide (André Paul Guillaume Gide) The Counterfeiters (French: Les Faux-monnayeurs) is a 1925 novel by French author André Gide, first published in Nouvelle Revue Française. With many characters and crisscrossing plot lines, its main theme is that of the original and the copy, and what differentiates them – both in the external plot of the counterfeit gold coins and in the portrayal of the characters' feelings and their relationships. The Counterfeiters is a novel-within-a-novel, with Edouard (the alter ego of Gide) intending to write a book of the same title. Other stylistic devices are also used, such as an omniscient narrator who sometimes addresses the reader directly, weighs in on the characters' motivations or discusses alternate realities. Therefore, the book has been seen as a precursor of the nouveau roman. The structure of the novel was written to mirror "Cubism," in that it interweaves between several different plots and portrays multiple points of view. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه دسامبر سال 1973 میلادی عنوان: سکه سازان؛ نویسنده: آندره ژید (آندره پل گیوم ژید؛ حسن فرهمندی؛ تهران، امیرکبیر، 1335؛ در 400 ص، عکس، چاپ سوم 1349؛ ویرایشهای دیگر با مقدمه و حواشی در 667 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، کتابفروشی زوار، 1359، در 546 ص؛ چاپ پنجم؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، ماهی، 1386، در 479 ص؛ چاپ دوم ماهی 1388؛ چاپ سوم 1392؛ شابک: 9789649971223؛ سکه سازان را سه بخش آراسته؛ بخش نخست: در 232 ص است، رخدادهای این بخش، در پاریس، و در کوچه های کودکی نویسنده، میگذرد؛ بخش دوم: در 76 ص است، در یکی از دهکده های سوئیس، روی میدهد، و رخ مبدهد. بخش سوم: در 236 ص، باز هم در پاریس روی میدهد؛ زمان داستان بیش از پنج ماه نیست؛ از پایان بهار، تا پایان پائیز؛ و تاریخ رخداد داستان، پیش از جنگ جهانگیر نخست است؛ سکه سازان یک رمان انتقادی ست؛ اشخاص داستان: سی و پنج تن هستند، از هرگونه آدمی در بین آنها هست؛ برنار مضطرب؛ آرمان منحرف؛ ونسان مردد؛ کشیشان، معلمان، پدران و مادران فرمانبر شیوه های کهن؛ و یک زن استثنایی، شیک پوش، زیبا، ثروتمند و لیدی گریفیث (لیلیان)؛ ایشان به خدا و شیطان، به هر دو، اعتنا ندارد؛ و موجب نومیدی نویسنده نیز، هست. ادوار، هم بازیگر ست، هم تماشاگر؛ و هم داستان نویس؛ ... در طول رمان، دو داستان ادامه مییابد، یکی واقعی و رئال، و دیگری ایده آل و سمبولیک. بدینگونه ژید دوگانگی انسان را میبیند و ....؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    A tangled web of a novel. Drifts from one character to the next. Good conversations and a pretty exciting plot. Assume everyone is gay until proven otherwise.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Luís C.

    The Counterfeiters is the main novel of the work of the French author André Gide. It tells the story of a multitude of characters, each of which symbolizes the different incarnations of the author, declaims all philosophical theories on the novel and art and human relations and develops them up to convince the reader, just before continuing in another character (taken in a new context generally) an idea that has everything contradictory and which appears to us just as right. In the end the story shows the meeting The Counterfeiters is the main novel of the work of the French author André Gide. It tells the story of a multitude of characters, each of which symbolizes the different incarnations of the author, declaims all philosophical theories on the novel and art and human relations and develops them up to convince the reader, just before continuing in another character (taken in a new context generally) an idea that has everything contradictory and which appears to us just as right. In the end the story shows the meeting of various personalities of the author. The story in itself is that of two young friends a few weeks before their examination of the baccalaureate which, leaving high school in the 1920s, live an adventure that could be described as astonishing literary. Although it seems madly humiliating to reduce the story to the story of these two heroes, because around them, it is a whole web of heroes who have their own stories, but all these stories have a link between them , a link for the characters, family or friendly or knowledge, as for example Bernard and Edward who meet by the chances of their two adventures, they realize that they both have a link with another character, Olivier's. They will continue the adventure together but we will have their points of view to both, on each side, which will give us the impression of two parallel paths rather than a common history. The world of Edouard and the family of Olivier, that of Laura and pension Azaïs and finally that of Profitendieu mingle in one world, the world of some good Parisian families, a pension of students, the younger generation of these families, the literary spirit and freedom of this youth. In the inter-war that exploits this novel, we applaud a fair and exciting painting of the freedom of spirit, of creation, of artistic movement of that time when we caught our breath of a war passed and where the emotion was tending to fall back, where we were finally rebuilding, and where morals tend to be liberalized. In the novel, the author gives us to see a literary meeting where we see some great figures of the time, like Alfred Jarry who looks at this moment of a man overbearing, crazy and slightly offbeat reality by this original character that he plays in society. Overall we follow the vision of characters who seek to create journals, to write, to poise, and finally to revolutionize the classical form of writing. A character by the way, named Strouvilhou launches a sketch of the revolutionary ideas that run through the arts at that time, we see him theorizing what could be the surrealists' desires overall. Thus, all the characters of Gide seem to be pursued of this greatness and this romantic thrill, all seem poets and artists. There is therefore a lively youth, adults with intelligence that is lost in an excess of everyday life, novelists. Characters tied and endearing. Two characters stand out from the crowd, however, it is Lady Griffith and the Count of Passavant who seem to be the evil gods and manipulators of this story. They are idle people, who give their esteem only to those who are useful or agreeable to them, but without any honest or reasonable foundation. In this novel, finally, there is also a struggle of intelligence of those who detaches themselves to carry on unknown lands, those struggling to get there, and those who believe arriving but in reality circling.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James

    The Counterfeiters is a book about writing a book, also called "The Counterfeiters". That is the primary theme of the novel which comes from the title of the book by the writer Edouard. Thus The Counterfeiters is a novel-within-a-novel, with Edouard (the alter ego of Gide) writing a book of the same title. Other stylistic devices are also used, such as an omniscient narrator that sometimes addresses the reader directly, weighs in on the characters' motivations or discusses alternate realities. H The Counterfeiters is a book about writing a book, also called "The Counterfeiters". That is the primary theme of the novel which comes from the title of the book by the writer Edouard. Thus The Counterfeiters is a novel-within-a-novel, with Edouard (the alter ego of Gide) writing a book of the same title. Other stylistic devices are also used, such as an omniscient narrator that sometimes addresses the reader directly, weighs in on the characters' motivations or discusses alternate realities. However, there is also the story of a group of boys who are passing counterfeit coins throughout Paris. Thus we have entered a world where we cannot trust our senses -- what is counterfeit and what is real? The story of Edouard writing his novel demonstrates his search for knowledge, yet as he associates with a group of his own adolescent relatives it appears as an artificial arrangement; one that displays the effects upon society of youth's corruption of traditional standards and values. The collapse of morality is illustrated with Eduoard's nephew Vincent, who deserts his lover Laura, a married woman, and runs away with Lillian, the mistress of Count Robert de Passavant. His life goes downhill as he murders her and goes insane. There is also the coming of age story of Bernard and Olivier as they prepare to leave school -- but does this extend beyond their education and emanate from all who are learning about the world? This learning which is required by the changing nature of the everyday, the quotidian reality that is, perhaps, counterfeit. I found the details of Edouard's struggles with his career, his family, his friendships and love provide images that enhance the main themes, yet also provide narrative drive. Another subplot of the novel is homosexuality. Some of the characters are overtly homosexual, like the adolescent Olivier, and the adult writers Count de Passavant and Eduoard. The Count seems to be an evil and corrupting force while the latter is benevolent. Even when the treatment is not overt, there is a homoerotic subtext that runs throughout, which encompasses Olivier's friend, Bernard, and their schoolfellows Gontran and Philippe. The main theme of The Counterfeiters underlies the issue of sexuality, morality, and social order and lineage in a unique way for his era. Gide's novel was not received well on its appearance, perhaps because of its homosexual themes and its unusual composition. It is this unusual composition that I thought made it an interesting read; along with which the way Gide demonstrates ideas through his characters and their actions much like Dostoevsky and Thomas Mann. The Counterfeiters has improved its reputation in the intervening years and is now generally counted among the great novels of the twentieth century.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bethan

    This is subtle metafiction since one of the main characters is a writer and the nature of Gide's The Counterfeiters is intellectual, bohemian, philosophical and of its time - for example, Freudian techniques used on a boy are exposited upon and discussed. It follows various people of a social milieu, from schoolboys to new school-leavers, to their parents and relatives, to an old schoolmaster, and is about their relationships and connections: in that sense, it was soap-like. It is also very homoerotic - never This is subtle metafiction since one of the main characters is a writer and the nature of Gide's The Counterfeiters is intellectual, bohemian, philosophical and of its time - for example, Freudian techniques used on a boy are exposited upon and discussed. It follows various people of a social milieu, from schoolboys to new school-leavers, to their parents and relatives, to an old schoolmaster, and is about their relationships and connections: in that sense, it was soap-like. It is also very homoerotic - never directly stated but some of the male main characters are almost certainly gay. It wasn't the easiest of books to follow but it was good in an interesting way. The denouement (cannot spoil), however, I did not like much because it felt a bit obvious and heavy-handed to me and it rang hollow, so that was a shame. Edit: I suppose the counterfeit coins used in the novel that the title references, represent the hollow and somewhat flashy or surface nature and currency of many of these relationships people have with each other. I will say that I did find the novel a bit depressing but almost scientifically honest that way because it kind of mirrors what I see and experience about people. I'm sure that says more about me though. Again, I think this is an interesting and philosophical novel - it wove subtly complex webs across my mind.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Bell

    The Counterfeiters is a book for writers, intellectuals or learners. It's an odd book with crisscrossing themes and story lines. Difficult to follow. (I gave up trying to follow it.) Gide, a winner of the Nobel prize for literature, is an old-time writer, the emphasis being on "writer," rather than "novelist." In those days, there weren't that many writers around and writers often were able to put whatever they wanted in their books. And Gide put a lot in this book. It's just not much of a story. O The Counterfeiters is a book for writers, intellectuals or learners. It's an odd book with crisscrossing themes and story lines. Difficult to follow. (I gave up trying to follow it.) Gide, a winner of the Nobel prize for literature, is an old-time writer, the emphasis being on "writer," rather than "novelist." In those days, there weren't that many writers around and writers often were able to put whatever they wanted in their books. And Gide put a lot in this book. It's just not much of a story. Ostensibly it's about a young artist's search for artistic authenticity. But that search gets twisted in a hundred different directions, ending up only as strands heading in a general direction. And yet in the process much insightful information about art and the artistic process is provided. And information about life. Consider these gems: "It very often suffices to add together a quantity of little facts which, taken separately, are very simple and very natural, to arrive at a sum which is monstrous." "...the greatest intelligence is precisely the one that suffers most from its own limitations." Like a Renaissance man, Gide's thoughts are learned and broad ranging, and yet clearly the book's predominant emphasis is on art, more specifically writing. Even, in this edition anyway, at the end, there is Gide's notebook on his process of how he wrote the novel. And it's good information. Like, "...be guided by the words rather than force them into submission." So, read this novel for entertainment? I would say not really. Read it to read a brilliant man and learn from him? You're getting warmer. Read it to learn about art and writing? You're hot now. Have a little spare time? I've free flash fiction (all stories under 1K) at my website greggbell.net

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kit

    This book I couldn't figure out. The feeling I get after reading it was similar to the time I read American Psycho. On the surface, you wonder, what's going on? when is this going to get interesting? And you might leave disappointed. There's something subliminal about the Counterfeiters that is beyond my intelligence to figure out. The characters are meshed together in one book, which seem to act as a pressure cooker. Gide, instead of letting the plot twists and turns let the story flow as the c This book I couldn't figure out. The feeling I get after reading it was similar to the time I read American Psycho. On the surface, you wonder, what's going on? when is this going to get interesting? And you might leave disappointed. There's something subliminal about the Counterfeiters that is beyond my intelligence to figure out. The characters are meshed together in one book, which seem to act as a pressure cooker. Gide, instead of letting the plot twists and turns let the story flow as the characters lead them to, following their respective personalities and conflicts. Edouard's journal's, his efforts with HIS own version of the Counterfeiters, how much of that reflects the novel? Which begs the question: how mcuh of it reflects Gide's life, at least in the time of writing? The form of the novel is unique, depending on which version you pick up. It's probably better to pick up the one with Gide's own journals, and also the appendix. (One of) the story is about writing about writing. So it follows, with Gide's journals, the book is about writing about writing about writing, among its many themes. Gide tried to fit as much as he knew in one book. That in itself should be respected. It does tend to get messy at times due to Gide's ambitions, but you should just press on. The English version translation I got out from my library (the only one) by Bussy wasn't great. But I'm not sure what other translations are like. If you could read French, though, that may be the best asset for reading this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    I finally finished it and am now going to read the journal the author kept while writing this. I mean it's a very long story about writing stories with a lot of characters and sometimes it feels that the line between what the character's are thinking and the what the author is thinking and what the author is thinking of the actual real novel is thin. Supposedly he let the story flow naturally and yet I have a hard time imagining that he could have done so because there are so many little things I finally finished it and am now going to read the journal the author kept while writing this. I mean it's a very long story about writing stories with a lot of characters and sometimes it feels that the line between what the character's are thinking and the what the author is thinking and what the author is thinking of the actual real novel is thin. Supposedly he let the story flow naturally and yet I have a hard time imagining that he could have done so because there are so many little things that needed to happen to get to the end result. Maybe I can't fathom it because when I write I need to pre-plan most every important thing... It's a heavy read and still the writing style drags your eyes along the pages with force. You want to go forward and get closer to the characters perhaps because they're so beautifully painted. Maybe I will edit this later and make a clearer review when I will have studied the book in depth but I don't think there is a much deeper meaning. I am not sure that this is a book with a message per say. It's got a soft feel to it. Overall I do recommend it a lot I think although, and the characters employ this very expression in the book to talk about one of the writer's book (do you follow me there because I think I lose myself in the bookception?) it's just a "slice of life".

  9. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    The reputation of the Faux-Monnayeurs is that it is an experimental novel that succeeds only where it is conventional. Gide's experimentation comes in the form of a magically real angel, multiple narrative points of view combined with more subplots and characters than would normally be considered prudent in a well-controlled work. At 19, I liked it because the author maintained a rapid pace and clearly had great affection for his characters. As well the discussion on homosexuality was The reputation of the Faux-Monnayeurs is that it is an experimental novel that succeeds only where it is conventional. Gide's experimentation comes in the form of a magically real angel, multiple narrative points of view combined with more subplots and characters than would normally be considered prudent in a well-controlled work. At 19, I liked it because the author maintained a rapid pace and clearly had great affection for his characters. As well the discussion on homosexuality was new to me. Because Gide obviously knew the topic very well I felt that the Faux-Monnayeurs delivered great insight. I was stunned when an angel appeared in the novel to wrestle with Bernard as if he were Jacob. I was then very glad to see that Bernard was subsequently able to make peace with his adopted father. The novel however ends on a very cruel note as a bullied child commits suicide in front of his classmates. I had frankly hoped that the Angel could have saved the little boy and still regret that he did not. This is a great novel about the soul-searching of adolescent males during their late teens. I recommend it well before Catcher in the Rye.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Ah, God bless the French! (I wonder if it's the first time anyone has ever written that.) I happen to love French writers and, thusly prejudiced, found this book by Andre Gide to be exceptional. A fascinating novel of interlocking characters and their crisscrossing story lines that is widely considered a precursor of the nouveau roman. Relationships of every variety are explored: straight, homosexual, parent/child, bastardy, extra-martial, you name it; a counterfeit coin su Ah, God bless the French! (I wonder if it's the first time anyone has ever written that.) I happen to love French writers and, thusly prejudiced, found this book by Andre Gide to be exceptional. A fascinating novel of interlocking characters and their crisscrossing story lines that is widely considered a precursor of the nouveau roman. Relationships of every variety are explored: straight, homosexual, parent/child, bastardy, extra-martial, you name it; a counterfeit coin subplot symbolic of the real self vs. the false; and a fairly chilling suicide by peer-pressure angle - nearly a century before the infamous suicide by MySpace hoax! If you can handle the French, give it a look.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dusty Myers

    A novel as much about writing as it is about coded homosexuality in 1920's France (a time, lest we forget, that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas just about ruled that town). Two rival writers, Edouard and Robert, fall for the same impressionable young boy, Olivier, who decides to run off with Robert, the more famous and less honorable of the two. Edouard, a kind of stand-in for Gide, is Olivier's "uncle" (through marriage), and in the loss of his beloved nephew opts instead of his schoolfriend A novel as much about writing as it is about coded homosexuality in 1920's France (a time, lest we forget, that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas just about ruled that town). Two rival writers, Edouard and Robert, fall for the same impressionable young boy, Olivier, who decides to run off with Robert, the more famous and less honorable of the two. Edouard, a kind of stand-in for Gide, is Olivier's "uncle" (through marriage), and in the loss of his beloved nephew opts instead of his schoolfriend, Bernard. The intersections that follow among writing instruction, publishing, entry into adulthood, and sexuality are noteworthy, but not too. Also noteworthy is the form of this novel. It reads precisely like something out of Austen. Many of the novels are structured around the meeting of two characters. Even the titles indicate such: "Bernard and Olivier", "Vincent Meets Passavant at Lady Griffith's", Bernard Meets Olivier", etc. The novel has that 19th-century breadth of including everyone from the aristocracy to the poor girl pregnant out of wedlock. And this in 1925! The Great Gatsby came out in 1925! I can't quite figure it out. There's a strong anti-decadent bent in this novel. Robert, the "comte" who drags Olivier to the dark side, is painted as a kind of Wildean figure, which is interesting given the friendship shared between Wilde and Gide. It's only when Olivier realizes he needs to abandon Robert and side himself with a more modernistic writer like his uncle that he is safe. Perhaps Gide's trying to resurrect an approach to the novel the decadents tried to do away with. I mean the novel ends with a boy's accidental suicide, out of the blue. It's practically right out of Dickens, but like act two of Dickens....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Khadijah Qamar

    Gide's novel has moments of keen psychological penetration and, for that reason alone, deserves veritable accolades. It's especially informative and interesting to be witness to the progress of the novel in the Appendix, which reads as Gide's diary throughout the writing of The Counterfeiters. Like other reviewers have noted, it breaks from the "traditional" novel mold since it is a novel about writing a novel. Gide also challenges novelistic norms at the time by changing perspectives, which he Gide's novel has moments of keen psychological penetration and, for that reason alone, deserves veritable accolades. It's especially informative and interesting to be witness to the progress of the novel in the Appendix, which reads as Gide's diary throughout the writing of The Counterfeiters. Like other reviewers have noted, it breaks from the "traditional" novel mold since it is a novel about writing a novel. Gide also challenges novelistic norms at the time by changing perspectives, which he describes in his appendix as an innovative attempt to directly involve the reader in piecing together real events from multiple subjective first-person narratives. I'm not sure that it always succeeds well, since this style contributes to the lack of any significant plot and an unsatisfying conclusion. The supposed climax of the novel ends in a tragic denouement involving a seemingly secondary character. Meanwhile, the threads of the primary characters, who I assume to be Olivier, Bernard, and Edouard, neatly sort themselves out without any significant developments, excluding some juvenile angst on the part of Olivier. This novel may have been controversial and significant in its time, particularly in regards to its unique stylistic exposition and the obvious homosexuality of most of the characters, but I do not think it is a novel "for all ages" as Gide might have wished. In conclusion, it's more of a "slice of life" narrative rather than a novel, and although Gide has moments of clever insights, in the end the story will likely leave the reader under-served.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tuck

    where pomo got started? Gide weaves a typical tale of upright bourgeoisie actually being quite immoral scumbags, but oh they have the angle, being lawyers, judges, professors, preachers, so get to do the cover-up and all is well. nixon tried that too, it usually doesn't work. greed, lust, envy, bullying, perversions of all kinds tend to bite you in the ass eventually. here is a quote, author is talking about book reviews (of his old book) and how he has SO moved on from that and hates his o where pomo got started? Gide weaves a typical tale of upright bourgeoisie actually being quite immoral scumbags, but oh they have the angle, being lawyers, judges, professors, preachers, so get to do the cover-up and all is well. nixon tried that too, it usually doesn't work. greed, lust, envy, bullying, perversions of all kinds tend to bite you in the ass eventually. here is a quote, author is talking about book reviews (of his old book) and how he has SO moved on from that and hates his old book and what he wrote. Now author wants to write for the future, and i guess, write a classic, so that say someone in the 21st century, in another country, would read his book and think it says something to them, and that all the garbage written then in France, now in usa, etc is just that, now worth reading, not worth keeping or thinking about. "An insight, composed of sympathy, which would enable us to be in advance of the seasons---is this denied us? What are the problems which will exercise the minds of to-morrow? It is for them that I desire to write. To provide food for curiosities still unformed, to satisfy requirements not yet defined, so that the child of to-day may be astonished to-morrow to find me in his past".

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kobe Bryant

    For young middle class French gay people they sure do lead boring lives

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    Steinbeck made me do it. Years ago, while working on my thesis for my master's degree, I learned everything there was to know about East of Eden. One bit of information I learned was the books that had influenced Steinbeck, particularly in his writing of EoE. There were titles I'd heard of: Moby-Dick and Don Quixote. And there was this: The Counterfeiters. Because I loved all things East of Eden, I made it a point to read these influential books. Now that I've read The Counterfeiters, I see how it influenced Steinbeck. The Counterfeiters is an intelligent and imaginative novel. And it is Steinbeck made me do it. Years ago, while working on my thesis for my master's degree, I learned everything there was to know about East of Eden. One bit of information I learned was the books that had influenced Steinbeck, particularly in his writing of EoE. There were titles I'd heard of: Moby-Dick and Don Quixote. And there was this: The Counterfeiters. Because I loved all things East of Eden, I made it a point to read these influential books. Now that I've read The Counterfeiters, I see how it influenced Steinbeck. The Counterfeiters is an intelligent and imaginative novel. And it is perhaps the earliest example of post-modernist metafiction I've encountered. Here is a novel called The Counterfeiters, a novel which includes a character who is an author writing a book named The Counterfeiters. And as the character in the novel shapes the story, so changes the story in the reader's hands. Lovely. I thoroughly enjoy works like this. (Steinbeck's original draft of East of Eden featured some similar metafictional elements, but many of these were toned down at the instance of Steinbeck's editor and publisher.) Also groundbreaking was Gide's approach to sexuality. The majority of the characters in the novel are either gay or bisexual. Their relationships are presented realistically—in both positive and negative light—just like you'd expect from any heterosexual relationship. Published in 1925, this display of authentic, non-sensationalized homosexual relationships was surely an original take. So The Counterfeiters was definitely a groundbreaking novel, but oh, is it void of anything enjoyable. It's intelligent and creative, but there's not much of a story. It is art for the sake of art. And it's so incredibly hard to follow. The Counterfeiters has a cast of characters that rivals War and Peace; the difference is that The Counterfeiters introduces these character in a third of the space Tolstoy allowed for his characters to develop. Another big difference, War and Peace was vastly interesting. While trying to follow this novel, I stumbled upon the following graphic. I think it nicely illustrates one of the problems I had with The Counterfeiters. graphic by Morn the Gorn What you see here is the cast of characters, and their convoluted relationships. It's not unlike a graphic you might find for War and Peace. Halfway through this novel, though, I couldn't honestly tell you more than one or two details about no more than two or three of these characters. Many of the others were recognizable by name only. Looking at this diagram should have made the story easier to read, but it didn't, and that's purely because Gide made a much too tangled mess of a novel. Honestly, and I hate admitting this, it got so bad that I began to skim pages and skip entire passages. I just didn't enjoy anything about this story. To Gide's credit, however, this novel was definitely groundbreaking. For me, the way it shattered the confines of story and sexuality were the only redeeming qualities. I'm glad he wrote it, if for no other reason than it changed the landscape of the modern novel, but I have no desire to read this novel ever again.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Billed as a frank exploration of same-sex deviance and an exposition of the collapse of morals in 1920’s France, this book is not quite either. It’s a transitional work. Readers wanting a frank look at gay sex are referred to Death on the Installment Plan, where Celine’s two or three shocking vignettes on the subject have never been outdone. And since kids getting away with anything is the grist of modern media, the general state of morality doesn’t especially shock modern readers. But the transition Billed as a frank exploration of same-sex deviance and an exposition of the collapse of morals in 1920’s France, this book is not quite either. It’s a transitional work. Readers wanting a frank look at gay sex are referred to Death on the Installment Plan, where Celine’s two or three shocking vignettes on the subject have never been outdone. And since kids getting away with anything is the grist of modern media, the general state of morality doesn’t especially shock modern readers. But the transitional nature of the story is interesting. It reminds me of The Way of All Flesh, a 19th century bildungsroman centering on an uncle and his nephew, with winks to the discerning reader. Gide develops this idea in a French setting and adds more characters of uncertain virtue. Somewhere in my reading, in fact, I began assuming any male character was gay until proven otherwise. I later exonerated three of them and found four others guilty of sending coded messages without an encryption device. The author pushes the story beyond innuendo without going as far as Celine would a decade later. How much the book scandalized people at the time I don‘t know. It went on the market about when Josephine Baker was in Paris dancing naked except for a string of bananas around her waist, so I imagine the French public was ready as well for something provocative by way of literature. Yet no explicit sex takes place. What we have is in large part a sentimental narration of the characters. But that’s not it either, exactly. The story depicts a snooty literary artistic clique more so than a debaucherous cabal, and the characters are trying to out-snoot each other as much as anything. The narrative action is limited and the story moves along with the help of letters and notes interspersed within the prose. The book is a campy act much in the spirit of the movie All About Eve. In The Counterfeiters I saw that the author took care with everything from the structure of the narrative to the word choices in individual paragraphs. I appreciated the superior content, and I fell in easily with the book's transitional nature, imagining Gide as an artist caught between genres. I didn’t rate this tale higher because I found the focus on the literati too confining. But that’s a matter of personal taste. I recommend the book to people interested in the themes as well as to people in search of good literature.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    "To disturb is my function. The public always prefers to be reassured. There are those whose job this is. There are only too many." Those words sound like something Andy Warhol might have said (in fact he said something very much like it). Indeed, The Counterfeiters (Les Faux-monnayeurs) is deeply disturbing on many levels, especially when read in today's socio-political climate of Me-Too and Time's-Up, though pederasty was considered wrong long before this. Andre Gide, a public defender of pederasty, makes it abundantly clear(Les "To disturb is my function. The public always prefers to be reassured. There are those whose job this is. There are only too many." Those words sound like something Andy Warhol might have said (in fact he said something very much like it). Indeed, The Counterfeiters (Les Faux-monnayeurs) is deeply disturbing on many levels, especially when read in today's socio-political climate of Me-Too and Time's-Up, though pederasty was considered wrong long before this. Andre Gide, a public defender of pederasty, makes it abundantly clear in his notebooks that his protagonist in this work, Edouard, is only a very lightly-veiled version of himself. When one dives deep into the biography of Gide, one finds a very troubling past, including numerous sexual liaisons with young boys (sometimes in the company of Oscar Wilde). Gide won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, which to those of us today who believe in consent and argue against an abuse of power seems extraordinarily problematic. But, of course, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to warmongers and awards are generally meaningless anyhow, a mixture of politics and favoritism, not always but often devoid of merit. There was something beyond repugnant in the idea of a middle-aged man falling for and sleeping with his adolescent nephew, especially knowing that art here was very much a representation of the author's real life. This might seem like enough cause to dismiss The Counterfeiters and similar works by Gide like The Immoralist, just as others have done in their readings of Nabokov (Lolita's Humbert Humbert is in many ways the equivalent of Edouard in this work, just as is Charles Kinbote in Pale Fire; Nabokov's indebtedness to both Gide's themes and style has been noted in a few pieces of literary criticism). The shocking ending, with a bit of Melville's Billy Budd, might also turn many away from this work, if they make it so far. I admit that I nearly put the work down, and very likely would have if it were explicit in its treatment of the relations between Edouard and his nephew Olivier, and later his nephew and the corrupting Comte de Passavant. But (and here's where it's tricky), while the work disturbs and repulses many a reader (especially the modern reader), it has a marvelous stylistic appeal (just as do the works of Nabokov), that if not for its content and knowing that it was largely autobiographical would have warranted a five star review. Throw in a little of Balzac ("possibly our greatest novelist," writes Gide in his journals; there would have been considerably more Balzac had Gide written the book as originally designed, featuring prominently Lafcadio, a character from his earlier works), a touch of Cervantes, a bit of Saint-Simon, a little Stendhal, and a medley of philosophical and psychological ideas (nationalist, Catholic, socialist, Freudian, William James) and mix it vigorously and you might get something like The Counterfeiters. A mise en abyme, the story tells of Edouard the young artist, writing a book called The Counterfeiters, keeping a journal that mixes elements of his life with ideas about his art. Not unlike films like Citizen Kane and Rashomon the story also presents us various, sometimes conflicting, viewpoints as it weaves together a sort of narrative of good and evil, the decay of middle class morals (Gide is a moralist as much as, if not more than anything else), a philosophy of art. We hear about things at times from a playful omniscient narrator (similar to Kundera's style in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but not as precious; at the end of Part II, about halfway through the book, the narrator [Gide himself?] pauses to reflect on the characters, how they developed on their own, what he thinks may become of them, what regrets he has in the way they came about, etc.), at other times through letters and journal entries from the characters (reminiscent of Bram Stoker's Dracula). In his journals for The Counterfeiters, Gide, that champion of individualism (a la Whitman, Rimbaud, Nietzsche), makes known his dislike for the style of Tolstoy. And I couldn't help think as I read it that Tolstoy would have very likely found this work repugnant. To Tolstoy (as expounded in his What is Art?), good art draws on a Christian ethic and on feelings of universal fraternity. I don't fully agree with this, but it is obvious that these elements are lacking from Gide's novel. On the whole, I would not say that Tolstoy was a man who liked to reassure his readers, but he does this more than he disturbs, such was his philosophy. In works like Resurrection his critiques of society are damning, even if he concludes with a philosophy of how to make the world a better place. Both Gide and Tolstoy rejected the religious tradition in which they were brought up (the Russian Orthodox Church for Tolstoy, Calvinism for Gide). And both (I know this more with Tolstoy, having read a great many of his works, but have read it about Gide) continued to have religious dialogues in their works, as their characters grappled with matters of faith, God, morals and questions of good and evil. Tolstoy settled on a brand of Christian anarchism and Gide ultimately on atheism, perhaps accounting for some of their fundamental differences. For Tolstoy, man must turn toward God and follow the callings of his conscience; for Gide man must set out on the open seas, abandoning the shore in search of something true within himself. Gide may not have been a good artist in the view of Tolstoy. And for similar reason, many would reject this moral author on grounds of immorality. And no one could really fault them for doing so. His work has strong stylistic merits and his influence is notable (as mentioned throughout), but reading this work (and the same goes for other works of his, I'm assured) one must be prepared to be disturbed, very deeply disturbed. Is this good art? I don't really know. There's a lot that is distasteful in this work (maybe a little too much). But, then, the same could be said for many a Greek tragedy and work of Shakespeare (which Tolstoy did not consider good art). And yet stylistically and thematically there is also a lot to admire. Just don't expect much in terms of reassurance.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    An outright coming of age story with the young Bernard Profitendieu as a central figure. There is a broad spectrum of characters in this novel, some of which are clearly good but very uncertain persons (Edward, Laura...), others really bad (Vincent, Georges), and most are just pretending. Edward is struggling to write a novel, and tries to cope with life. The middle part is the best one, the last part rather messy. The theme of the homosexual attraction is clearly present, but always disguised. An outright coming of age story with the young Bernard Profitendieu as a central figure. There is a broad spectrum of characters in this novel, some of which are clearly good but very uncertain persons (Edward, Laura...), others really bad (Vincent, Georges), and most are just pretending. Edward is struggling to write a novel, and tries to cope with life. The middle part is the best one, the last part rather messy. The theme of the homosexual attraction is clearly present, but always disguised. Stylistically this is modernist for sure, but not as revolutionary as predecessor Conrad and follower Faulkner. This certainly is the "richest" novel by Gide, but not fully succesfull.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deanne

    Enjoyed this narrative which describes the complicated relationships amongst a group of men, women and teenaged boys. All the characters are linked in some way to each other, six degrees of separation Andre Gide style.

  20. 5 out of 5

    ekaterina

    really wish i could follow a certain character's lead and take a gun to my head after finishing this mess

  21. 4 out of 5

    Traian

    Gide has a complex plot and proposes a different style for writing a novel compared to most previous novels. Several stories are intertwined, interact at some moments and then some of them are forgot or fade away. Each new moment changes the point of view presented in the previous sequences. As Edouard says when discussing the topic of his novel, it's the fight between the facts proposed by the reality (the novel, in my opinion) and the ideal reality.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Howard

    This is the surprising interwoven and sexually obscure tale of young men in Paris around the turn of the twentieth century. It was written in 1925 and is a rated classic for the `book within a book' style. Uncle Edouard (38) (Gide styled and as a first person journal) is an author in competition with the notorious, fellow author Robert de Passvant. His half-sister Pauline Molinier, married to Oscar, has sons Olivier, Vincent and George (14). The sons are at college with Olivier befrie This is the surprising interwoven and sexually obscure tale of young men in Paris around the turn of the twentieth century. It was written in 1925 and is a rated classic for the `book within a book' style. Uncle Edouard (38) (Gide styled and as a first person journal) is an author in competition with the notorious, fellow author Robert de Passvant. His half-sister Pauline Molinier, married to Oscar, has sons Olivier, Vincent and George (14). The sons are at college with Olivier befriending Bernard Profitendieu, who has learnt that he's a bastard and left home. Vincent has got Laura Videl, married to professor Felix, pregnant but equally Lilian Griffith conspires with Robert to win Vincent. Robert and Edouard are each seemingly using their friendships, planning literary journals needing editors and their foreign travels to get close to the young men. The young men become in-love and jealous. There are many non-graphic but literary scenes suggesting or otherwise of guys sharing beds and time together in ambiguous and not so ambiguous gay/bisexual ways. There are many back stories based around the Laura's sibling Armand, Rachael and Sarah; the ex-college teachers of Edouard, the Azais. Middleclass parents have to deal (badly) with the issues including counterfeiting and a young man run brothel club. This is a mix of Middlemarch, Gissing's Nether World and Murger's Bohemians of the Latin Quarter but heavy on the sexually ambivalent. It's quite existential actually. Some good quotes and there many: "Vincent walks home, meditating as he goes; he realises that from the satisfaction of desire there may arise, accompanying joy and as it were sheltering behind it, something not unlike despair" "I am constantly getting out of myself, and as I watch myself act I cannot understand how a person who acts is the same as the person who is watching him act, and who wonders in astonishment and doubt how he can be actor and watcher at the same moment" "The deeper the soul plunges into religious devotion, the more it loses all sense of reality, all need, all desire, all love for reality" "If one could recover the uncompromising spirit of one's youth, one's greatest indignation would be for what one has become" "Well, you must allow it's a melancholy business when love, instead of making the happiness of life, becomes its calamity.... That's no doubt the way God loves us" "And if I can't endure the thought of a Christ sacrificing himself for the thankless salvation of all frightful people I knock up against daily, I imagine with some satisfaction, and indeed a kind of serenity, the rotting of that vile mob in order to produce a Christ" This is a really modern feeling classic; and is the second Gide novel I've read having enjoyed the Immoralist. Both well worth reading but Counterfeiters is the lengthier better.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erifili

    5/5, because it would feel wrong to give it any less. I read Les Faux-monnayeurs (translated as The Counterfeiters in English) for school, and I went into it with a pretty pessimistic attitude considering it was a required read and I had to read it in French (I tend to read french books slower). But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised; not only did my attitude towards it change only a few pages in, but I ended up really loving it. Les Faux-monnayeurs was the first book I read by Gide. so I wasn't familiar with his style or brain. 5/5, because it would feel wrong to give it any less. I read Les Faux-monnayeurs (translated as The Counterfeiters in English) for school, and I went into it with a pretty pessimistic attitude considering it was a required read and I had to read it in French (I tend to read french books slower). But, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised; not only did my attitude towards it change only a few pages in, but I ended up really loving it. Les Faux-monnayeurs was the first book I read by Gide. so I wasn't familiar with his style or brain. Needless to say both impressed me. This book is literarily challenging and controversial, working as a type of inception; in the novel, Gide's alter ego, the writer Edouard, is also writing a novel with the same title, characters and story. Before starting it, this had contributed to my hesitation, but luckily Gide presented everything in the least complicated manner possible. I really loved the characters and their stories, and, what I found to be the most remarkable, was that Gide used these characters to be honest. Les Faux-monnayeurs was a brutally honest book, that exposed people in an undeniably true and uncomfortably transparent way. All throughout the book, Gide was using his characters to express bold ideas in a way that just makes his Nobel Prize completely expected. This is not a book for every type of reader, and it shouldn't be considered a classic that everyone should read in their lives; I can see how many readers could misunderstand it or find it boring and lacking, but I also think that the ones who appreciate it will do so profoundly. If you like literature and philosophy and are willing to be confronted with your own deepest thoughts and feelings, then I definitely recommend this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chani

    Perhaps the best French novel. Indispensable!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    “If one could recover the uncompromising spirit of one’s youth, one’s greatest indignation would be for what one has become.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    4.5/5 - an excellent book by a masterful writer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    3.5 stars. Gide's The Counterfeiters weaves a complex tapestry of characters and plot-lines centered on the theme of finding one's genuine self. However, we can only do so through the lens of others, all of whom are on the same quest for self-knowledge. To tell his story, Gide uses an alter-ego protagonist, Edouard, who is compiling notes to write a novel called The Counterfeiters, which will include his theories on the novel and the artist's search for true self-expression. Gide tells his story through third-person chapters, fir 3.5 stars. Gide's The Counterfeiters weaves a complex tapestry of characters and plot-lines centered on the theme of finding one's genuine self. However, we can only do so through the lens of others, all of whom are on the same quest for self-knowledge. To tell his story, Gide uses an alter-ego protagonist, Edouard, who is compiling notes to write a novel called The Counterfeiters, which will include his theories on the novel and the artist's search for true self-expression. Gide tells his story through third-person chapters, first-person perspectives, and entries from Edouard's journal, some of which are read by other characters and some of which are reserved only for readers. These modernist shifts in perspective guide us to understand characters from different angles, but also lead us down long tangents of meandering sub-plots that may have benefited from some tighter editing. The frank depictions of homosexuality suggest that such "taboo" relationships, despite their label as "immoral" at the time, are more authentic and ethical than many of the other relationships throughout the novel, from familial to romantic. The "counterfeiters" of the title are not only those boys who pass off false currency throughout the novel, but also anyone who values that which is beyond its worth, including any socially-defined "moral" modes of life. (A counterfeit coin is worth nothing, but if we don't know it is counterfeit, then we value it strongly. Gide, speaking through Edouard, argues that by putting so much arbitrary value on money, we lose sight of the fact that all coins are essentially equally worthless, with the real coins' "value" being just as arbitrary as the counterfeit coins' lack of value. The coins come to symbolize how we view our relationships with others: that which we value is often inauthentic because our moral scales are calibrated by quite arbitrary cultural norms that are determined outside our personal, individual relationships with others.) I was intrigued by the formal structure of Gide's novel, but I also felt he wasn't quite as successful in pulling off this type of experimentation as some of his modernist contemporaries. I also thought that the passion and beauty of his prose that I found so compelling in some of his shorter novels was lost at times in the labyrinth of the text. That being said, The Counterfeiters is commendable and well-worth the read, even if it isn't my favorite work by Gide.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Clara

    This book was sooooo long! but i actually ended up finding it really nice

  29. 4 out of 5

    Drew Pyke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A very different read to many other novels I’ve read in the past, which is an intention of Gide himself. There is no paradigm running through the book but a tension between reality (lots and lots of characters bumping into each other with interweaving connections and tensions) and idealism (all the protagonists having demonstrative, uniform, virtuous characters – which in this novel is rare). Overview: Bernard rifles through his mother's possessions whilst home alone and fi A very different read to many other novels I’ve read in the past, which is an intention of Gide himself. There is no paradigm running through the book but a tension between reality (lots and lots of characters bumping into each other with interweaving connections and tensions) and idealism (all the protagonists having demonstrative, uniform, virtuous characters – which in this novel is rare). Overview: Bernard rifles through his mother's possessions whilst home alone and finds an unsigned love letter addressed to her. It’s enough for him to make assumptions and leave the house and his family behind, suspecting his whole life has been a lie. He leaves a letter of his own for his family, stating: “I bear her no grudge for having made a bastard of me; on the contrary, I prefer that to knowing I am your son.” He secretly stays one night with his best friend Olivier and is actually keen on the idea of his newfound freedom from the shackles of society (a common theme for Gide). Here begins the first hint of homosexuality. They sleep naked together and when asked about being intimate with girls, Bernard replies: “I’m not particularly keen...it doesn’t appeal to me” They spend the night talking, introducing a host of new characters in their dialogue, including Olivier’s mysterious uncle Edouard, who is “not in the least like the rest of the family” and who has a strange tension. In parallel, Bernard’s father (Profitendieu) is working on a case involving an illicit orgy of young people, to which he blames on female seduction alone: “women, collar them by all means. ...society should be cleansed of them”. He comes home and finds the Bernard’s letter of departure. The next chapter see’s Olivier’s elder brother Vincent (seemingly virtuous) frequent Robert (less virtuous) on a nightly basis. This is shortly after making an already married Laura pregnant from a short-term relationship. Robert tempts him with gambling and other hedonistic pursuits, including the straight-talking character Lillian Griffith who adds a wedge between Vincent’s relationship with the soon to be mother of his child: “go to the bathroom now and try and wash your regrets off”. This recklessness / unconventional spirit is reinforced by a story she retells about when she was involved as a 17 year old a boating disaster and how people were hacking the fingers of people trying to get into a rescue boat: “I realised that I was no longer the same …sentimental young girl I had been before; …[I] had gone down with the Bourgogne’. Bernard begins to revel in his freedom: “I shall be setting out to meet my fate. Adventure!”. He spends the little cash he has on a roll, coffee and a tip for the waitress so “nothing is left - …the whole world is his”. Laura sends a letter to Edouard (her only true unrequited love) explaining how misfortune (Vincent abandoning her and his gambling the money owed her). Edouard meditates on this for a long while, explaining to himself that he is many people: “I am never anything but what I think myself – and this varies so incessantly ….my morning’s self would not recognise my evening’s”. He also thinks marriage / love is destined to fail: “So long as he loves and desires to be loved, the lover cannot show himself as he really is, and moreover he does not see the beloved” Edouard sends a postcard to the Molinier family, but was secretly aimed for Olivier’s attention only, stating the details of his return back from England. Olivier meets his uncle at the station to a very nervous and tense atmosphere between them; hardly talking to each other beyond formalities. Bernard, with nothing else to do with his new found freedom, spies on them from a distance and ends up stealing Edouard’s notebook and some cash. In the notebook it details Edouards lust for Olivier (“[his] figure that has now become the magnet of my thoughts”) but also a different type of affection for Laura too (“my heart is still full of [her]”). Different because in the notebook he also explains how Felix Douviers would “make an excellent husband”. His diary also shows his anti-religious streak: “The deeper the soul plunges into religious devotion; the more it loses all senses of reality”. And on familial responsibility he takes a similar position, which is a nod to the existentialist mantra ‘existence precedes essence”: “It is to bastards that the future belongs. How full of meaning is the expression ‘a natural child’! The bastard alone has the right to be natural” Edouard then moves onto La Perouse, an old teaching master, grappling with his recent consciousness: “I’ve only just begun to understand that I have been a dupe during the whole of my life. [My wife] has fooled me, my son has fooled me, everybody has fooled me; God has fooled me” “When I was young, I led a very austere life; I used to congratulate myself on my force of character every time I refused a solicitation in the street. I didn’t understand, that when I thought I was freeing myself, in reality I was becoming more and more the slave of my own pride. Every one of these triumphs over myself was another turn of the key in the door of my prison” This angst is due to his family conspiring against him (his wife and son covering up he had a grandson where they’d move to Poland without seeing him). Bernard uses all the knowledge he has acquired from Edouard’s stolen diary to his benefit (given he is homeless). He goes to Laura’s address and tells her how he is Vincent’s younger brother, “who has so vilely abandoned you”. Unbeknownst to him, Edouard was listening from the other side of the door and cornered him. Bernard curries favour: “If I lifted your suitcase, it was …so as to get in touch with you”. Vincent continues to battle with his conscience about Laura and the baby but nevertheless falls deeper into love with Lilian. He is complex and is passionate about nature and what it has to teach: “There is more to be learnt …in a poultry yard, …or a rabbit warren …than in all your books, or even, believe me, in the society of men, where everything is more or less sophisticated”. Robert wants to spend the summer with Vincent’s younger brother Olivier, as an editor. He asks that Vincent appeases his parents of the idea. Edouard visits La Perouse again, who has deteriorated since the first visit. He berates his wife for meddling: “She thinks herself a martyr, while he takes her for a torturer”. He promises to Edouard that he’ll put her in a home within months and that he’s also hinting at suicide. His only last wish is to see his grandson (Boris) who has been shielded from. The second part is the summer out of school season. It starts with Oliver sending a letter to Bernard saying he is with his uncle Edouard and Laura in Switzerland. Again, there is a strange setup with Laura sleeping in a little room whilst Edouard and Bernard sleep together. This arrangement makes Oliver jealous. A little bit later on you realise why Switzerland is the place of choice, since that is where Boris currently is. He begins a mission of persuading the situation so that he returns with him to Paris and the Azais school. Boris’ carer (Sophroniska) is at the same time trying to get to the bottom of Boris’ strange “tics, manias”. All of this time, Edouard is writing a novel (which is this novel: The Counterfeiters) and goes through the philosophy of a novel. This is one of the weirdest narratives I’ve come across, effectively making a novel within a novel: “[The novel] always cuts its slice in the same direction; in time, lengthwise. Why not in breadth? Or in depth? As for me, I should like not to cut at all” “In order to arrive at this effect …I invent the character of a novelist, whom I make my central figure” I understand this as Gide arguing against the sanitized, ordered, “perfect” novel. He even says that the diary of a novel (his example Dickens’) would add more value than the actual novel it produced. “…it’s essentially out of the question for a book of this kind to have a plan” “In fact, that will be the subject; the struggle between the facts presented by reality and the ideal reality” This explains the unconventional style of the book (lots of protagonists bumping into each other without necessarily an order or sequence, but nevertheless getting something out of it). “Words betray our meaning” Bernard, taking the inspiration from Edouard, also decides to write a novel which is an interesting juxtapose. He wants a protagonist that is almost ubermensch: “he makes up his mind to consult no one but himself, and thereupon becomes a person of great capacity”. He really begins to form his own mind: “…one is so much occupied with seeming, that one ends by not knowing what one really is” And he even criticises Edouards approach: “A good novel gets itself written more naively than that. …one must believe in one’s own story …and tell it quite simply” During this stay though, relationships between the 3 begin to change. Bernard begins to fall in love with Laura. Laura falls out of favour from Edouard (“he is attached to nothing”), and a strange tension forms between Edouard and Bernard. In the end Laura, in receipt of a letter from Felix Douviers (her husband), leaves Switzerland to be with him. To which Edouard is strangely indifferent. They (Edouard and Sophroniska) think they have got to the bottom of Boris (blaming himself for his father’s death). Edouard decides to arrange Boris to go to Paris (which was his original mission to Switzerland anyway with his promise to La Perouse; Boris’ grandfather). This is bold choice, given that Azais school is a “stifling cover of morality and religion. He knows Boris – how tender he is”. As an aside, Boris has a strange talisman that carries the following words (with no explanation in the book as to why): Gas … Telephone … One hundred thousand roubles Oliver sends a letter back to Bernard about his travels over the summer with Robert Passavant, working as an editor, which comes across as vengeful for the similar correspondence sent from Bernard to Olivier about his time with Edouard. There is a very strange chapter where the narrator actually talks and reviews his characters (a novel within a novel within a novel…) and proves perhaps the original point of the novel that there is no plan at all: “...what is to be done with such people as these? It was not I who sought them out; while following Bernard and Olivier I found them in my path” Boris goes back to Paris and meets his grandfather, La Perouse, but it doesn’t go to plan: “It was a mistake to leave them alone together too long”, Edouard recounts in his diary. Edouard then meets up with Oscar Molinier (father of Olivier who was with Robert Passavant). It turns out the Oscar is having an affair and blames his wife for it: “I have been obliged to hide things from her – to tell lies”. He also brings up again the orgy scandal (given than Oscar is working with Profitendieu, the judge on the case) with similarly suspect approach: “being forced to prosecute and compromise the respectable families” At the school, there are some obvious financial problems, mainly from mismanagement, which leads Rachel (who is shouldering the burden for the Vedel family) to request ten thousand francs from Edouard. Only a bit later, from Armand explains that she actually needs the money to fund Alexandre, her “beast of a brother”. She is too ‘decent’ to not support him and his travels and lifestyle. Also at the school now is La Perouse, who is teaching (albeit very badly). He even admits his suicide attempt, mainly because of the failure of Boris not receiving him as expected. But he didn’t go through with shooting himself because he would have to hear the “terrible noise” before his death, which was enough to stop him. Not killing himself is a punishment: “God is playing with us. It amuses him to let us think that what he makes us do is what we wanted to do. That is his horrible game” The first day of the school term is where a lot of new and quiet characters come to the fore (George, Adamanti, Gheri, Gontran etc). What binds a lot of them together is a yellow rosette. Another detail which is not explained elsewhere in the book, but to not wear it would “run the risk of getting collared”. It is also here that Olivier and Bernard finally meet again (the last time on that one night after Bernard left his family). Strangely though they don’t hit it off, having loaded statements and curious questions which were more related to their summer adventures with Robert and Edouard respectively. When Olivier tries to ask help from Bernard for his editorial, Bernard explains that he is now beyond writing (probably from his time with Edouard) At the same time, George (Olivier’s brother) is embroiled in a counterfeiting scam (partly due to peer pressure from the others), by paying for things requiring change (as real money) in small shops across the city. Strouvilhou is behind it all with his cousin Gheri forming the network. The whole operation works on finding dirt on each others families which in turn will compromise themselves. This includes George himself who has evidence of his father’s affair. “The only poet who satisfies me nowadays is Rimbaud” “writing prevents one from living, and that can express oneself better by acts than by words” “I have a confused feeling in myself of extraordinary aspirations, surgings, stirrings, incomprehensible agitations, which I don’t want to understand …for fear of preventing them” He tries Armand in Bernard’s place but Olivier judges him too nihilist, constantly hinting at the consciousness of our futile existence: “I became aware that no only images but ideas may strike the brain with more or less clearness. A person with a dull mind receives only confused perceptions” “I think the greatest intelligence is precisely the one that suffers most from its own limitations” “That dividing line between existence and non-existence is the one I keep trying to trace everywhere” Edouard moves onto Olivier’s mother, who is seemingly delusional. Only seeing the good in people and pretending all is well despite evidence of affairs, money being stolen and her sons going down an illicit path. A big chapter comes when a lot of the characters congregate for an Argonauts dinner (named after a newspaper) run by the Brousses. Bernard and Edouard pick up Sarah, sister of Armand, for the event. A girl similar to Bernard in looking for life and adventure (“the constraint of family life had intensified her energies”). Oliver joins the dinner with Robert. It is a strange affair when Robert meets Edouard who act as adopted guardians of both Olivier and Bernard, and they both compete with each other with quips and etiquette. It’s interesting how the “adults” butt up against each other [ message me for rest of my review ]

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma

    I just realised that Andre Gide is not new to me. I have read one book of his before. I think it was the Immoralist. But, this novel 'The Counterfeiters' was far much superior than the immoralist. I liked it and was drowned right from the start.

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