Chapter 1 explores the intersection between sexuality and religious belief as it shaped Gide’s interpretation of the myth of Persephone. Gide’s interest in this myth is related to his feeling of being torn between his Calvinist heritage and the mysticism he associated with homoerotic experience. In his Prosperine drafts from 1909 and 1913, Gide sublimated sexual temptation into the classical forms of the melodrama, while simultaneously celebrating his desire through the suggestion of ideal music. In the years that followed he came out as a pédéraste, emerged as an anticolonialist activist, and became the object of bitter public battles over the relationship between faith and sexuality. In Perséphone, he responded to these events by adopting a resistant aesthetics of ambiguity that led him to create a bricolage of prose and poetry styles. His politically motivated “anxiousness” undermined the basis of faith presumed in neoclassicism.
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