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La Symphonie Pastorale/Isabelle

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La Symphonie Pastorale: In beautiful, evocative prose, Gide's short novel explores such themes as love, blindness, honor, and mortality.


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La Symphonie Pastorale: In beautiful, evocative prose, Gide's short novel explores such themes as love, blindness, honor, and mortality.

30 review for La Symphonie Pastorale/Isabelle

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Two wonderful novellas, though LSP gets most of the praise. Certainly it sticks in one's mind more than Isabelle, but I think I'd rather re-read the latter: SP is a little too obvious. My rediscovery of Gide has been the reading triumph of the year for me so far, and these two only help that along: clarity, intelligence, some fun and games with forms and frame narratives, but no desire to blow the reader's mind. Most importantly of all, Gide is a dialectical novelist; each story is a careful sta Two wonderful novellas, though LSP gets most of the praise. Certainly it sticks in one's mind more than Isabelle, but I think I'd rather re-read the latter: SP is a little too obvious. My rediscovery of Gide has been the reading triumph of the year for me so far, and these two only help that along: clarity, intelligence, some fun and games with forms and frame narratives, but no desire to blow the reader's mind. Most importantly of all, Gide is a dialectical novelist; each story is a careful staging of an important, intellectual opposition (here, religiosity/sensuality; idealism/realism), and each story allows us to see that the triumph of one pole is inevitably disastrous.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    I’m a big fan of Gide after having read 2 books of his previously but this failed to live up to the high expectations. This is 2 books in one. The first book is a really strange story about a pastor who is fairly religious who adopts a blind girl who is pretty dumb also and essentially nurtures her back into normality. Then weirdly he falls in love with her even though she is a third of his age. Gide obviously has magic at his fingertips when it comes to writing styles but this story didn’t rock I’m a big fan of Gide after having read 2 books of his previously but this failed to live up to the high expectations. This is 2 books in one. The first book is a really strange story about a pastor who is fairly religious who adopts a blind girl who is pretty dumb also and essentially nurtures her back into normality. Then weirdly he falls in love with her even though she is a third of his age. Gide obviously has magic at his fingertips when it comes to writing styles but this story didn’t rock me that much. As I am finding with all of Gide’s books this one also had a bit of a shocking ending which you may be able to guess! The second story is also pretty weird. It’s about a random bloke that visits a villa somewhere in France and becomes enamoured with the portrait of the daughter of the house. Slowly he finds out more about her and the mystery around her. This time not that shocking an ending but again I didn’t feel that I could get to grips with what was going on in the story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Helen McClory

    Two stories of men thinking women are what they would like to be, rather than what they are. Felt like the message was the point, and that's pretty uninteresting.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gill

    I was surprised at first that La Symphonie Pastorale seems to have by far the greater amount of space in the book's reviews, but now I understand. The first story although only 62 pages to Isabelle's 95, is to my mind the better story. It deals with a priest called to a dying woman, who then takes into his family the person he finds apparently deaf, dumb and blind and totally uncomprehending of the situation she is in. His wife is not best pleased, and he takes a keen interest in attempting to e I was surprised at first that La Symphonie Pastorale seems to have by far the greater amount of space in the book's reviews, but now I understand. The first story although only 62 pages to Isabelle's 95, is to my mind the better story. It deals with a priest called to a dying woman, who then takes into his family the person he finds apparently deaf, dumb and blind and totally uncomprehending of the situation she is in. His wife is not best pleased, and he takes a keen interest in attempting to educate her himself. The tale has a twist at the end but I won't give away the story. Isabelle I found maudlin and sentimental and it did not hold my attention nearly so much.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    Isabelle creates expectations, but once on the plateau, it ends, not with unanswered questions, but simply a weak ending. The Pastoral Symphony is notably the real deal here. Shorter, but pungent. Also, in terms of the underlying messages, there is more to gain from this story, and some amazing lines: p. 135 2 symphonies "the only pleasure I can still give Amelie ( wife) is to refrain from doing the things she dislikes. These very negative signs of love are the only ones she allows me. The degree Isabelle creates expectations, but once on the plateau, it ends, not with unanswered questions, but simply a weak ending. The Pastoral Symphony is notably the real deal here. Shorter, but pungent. Also, in terms of the underlying messages, there is more to gain from this story, and some amazing lines: p. 135 2 symphonies "the only pleasure I can still give Amelie ( wife) is to refrain from doing the things she dislikes. These very negative signs of love are the only ones she allows me. The degree to which she has already narrowed my life is a thing she cannot realise."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Monty Milne

    La Symphonie is a story of forbidden love and loss of faith, and as such its themes are uncomfortably personal for me. The main character's lack of awareness of that in himself which is obvious to all around him is well drawn. In Isabelle, Gide's real interest is not Isabelle but her son Casimir - he may be a slobbering cripple, but he is still morally superior to his awful mother. I read both tales with pleasure in the course of a single afternoon.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kemal

    Isabelle: "As it was, I could hardly recognize the Isabelle my imagination had fallen in love with. Her tale, it is true, was interlarded with interjections; she recriminated against fate; she lamented that in this world poetry & sentiment are always in the wrong; but it grieved me not to hear in her melodious voice any of the warm harmonics of the heart. Not a word of regret for anyone but herself! What! I thought, is that the only way she can love?..." Isabelle: "As it was, I could hardly recognize the Isabelle my imagination had fallen in love with. Her tale, it is true, was interlarded with interjections; she recriminated against fate; she lamented that in this world poetry & sentiment are always in the wrong; but it grieved me not to hear in her melodious voice any of the warm harmonics of the heart. Not a word of regret for anyone but herself! What! I thought, is that the only way she can love?..."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Frank Jacobs

    A chance encounter with Andre Gide on a Th. Van Rysselberghe painting, and then with this book in a second-hand shop, compelled me to read these two random 'classics' - which turn out to be quirky horror stories more notable for the literary zeitgeist they represent than for their inherent, semi-gothic quality.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elisa

    Like a walk in the park. A very big park with broken statuary and deer peeking through the brush at you. And then you find a crumbling stone manor and the mist starts creeping in. That kind of walk in the park.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    La Symphonie is okay, but I really like Isabelle. A love story. Should read in original French if you can.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aveugle Vogel

    "suffocating smell of poultry"

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Troyan

    melodrama in all of its brutal vitality

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    2 novellas, the first was interesting with a profoundly implausible and disappointing ending, while the second was so beautifully written and descriptive that the contrived and unsatisfying ending barely detracted! Although first published in 1911 it feels like they were written half a century earlier.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eri

  15. 5 out of 5

    Philip Tidman

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alba

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  18. 5 out of 5

    George

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elisa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ebun

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nix

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aline Medri

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tigergirl

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brendan M

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Fuller

  29. 5 out of 5

    Arthur Cravan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Ward

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