Wilful Blindness: The Marriage of André and Madeleine Gide

There must have been quite a bonfire. A thick plume of smoke must have risen into the still air of a sunny summer day in 1918, on the family estate in Normandy that Madeleine had inherited and where she lived for the most part without the company of her footloose husband. This last time when Gide had left her, he had gone too far, writing a dreadful note in which he said he was “rotting away,” all his “vitality ebbing away… I was dying there and I wanted to live… I had to live and that meant escaping from there, travelling, meeting new people, loving people, creating!” And so while Gide was away, loving and living and travelling, Madeleine had taken the key to the desk in which the letters he had written her were carefully stored. She had taken those letters out, read them for one last time, and then consigned them to the flames. Did she weep? Was she distraught? Or did she carry out her destruction with nothing but grim determination on her face? It must have taken time and persistence, that bonfire, because the cremation of thirty-five years’ worth of letters would be no small task.

André Gide, 1893
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

She knew exactly how to hurt him.

Unlike other wronged wives, Madeleine Gide said nothing to her husband when he came home. Gide had returned to Cuverville after three glorious months in England, unaware of the consequences of his trip, perhaps a little disingenuous in his belief that life could be picked up just as it was before. Madeleine had replied with compassion to that last, hurtful letter he’d written, though she admitted that she was worried about “the way of life that you have taken up, and which will lead to the perdition of others, as well as yourself… I feel sorry for you as much as I love you. A terrible temptation has been put before you, armed with every attraction. Resist.” And he had not resisted, he had gone ahead and done exactly what he pleased. But still, it was not until two months after his return from England that he found out what the cost of that decision had been. He was writing his memoirs, wanted to check a date, and asked Madeleine for the key to the desk. Madeleine went pale and her lips trembled. She told him that the drawer was now empty, for the letters no longer existed.

Afterwards, Gide told his friend, Roger Martin du Gard, that the moment of revelation had left him feeling as if he were dying. The letters dated back to his early youth, when he had first fallen in love with Madeleine and she became his muse. “Those letters were the treasure of my life,” he said, “the best of me: certainly my best work…Suddenly there was nothing. I had been stripped of everything! Ah, I can imagine what a father might feel on arriving home and being told by his wife: ‘Our child is dead. I have killed him.’” Pressing Madeleine for an explanation, she told him “If I were a Catholic, I’d enter a convent… I was suffering too much… I had to do something.” Madeleine’s pain was acute; it was not that Gide had never left her alone before, and she knew, in some part of her, exactly what kind of a man he was and what kind of marriage they shared. What she resented, and what she could not forgive, was that on this occasion he had forced her to face facts. It was not that the most significant lover of his life was thirty years his junior; what distressed her was the fact that he was a man.

André Gide is no longer a well-known writer, but when he died in 1951 he was at the height of his fame and considered one of the most important figures of the twentieth century. He had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, and had his books banned by the Vatican. Recognition was slow to come during his lifetime, and for the most part, Gide did little to court it. He was of the opinion that the artist held a sacred trust in his hands to speak the truth, which would in all likelihood be controversial and troubling. The natural role of the writer was as a scapegoat, not a hero. In one of his early works, he wrote “The artist, and the scientist, must not prefer himself to the Truth that he wishes to express: that is the whole of his morality… All things must be manifested, even the most pernicious.” For Gide, sincerity was the great goal of his work.

However, Gide’s marriage was the place where the great man of sincerity was forced to live a lie. It was the place where he was most deceitful and unkind, abandoning the introverted, stoical Madeleine for more reckless kinds of sexual fun. But it was also where he would outwardly declare he had left the best of himself, and it was governed by an unusual but powerful kind of love for his wife. In his marriage, his split and conflicted nature was put under greatest pressure, for Gide was the kind of person who was of two minds about most things; “I’m just a little boy amusing himself — coupled with a Protestant pastor who bores him,” he said of himself. This was Gide’s issue; things were never black or white with him.

André Gide was an only child whose father died when he was young. He was brought up by his mother, Juliette Gide, and the woman who had been his mother’s governess and was now her companion, Anna Shackleton. The absence of his father would prove a grave disadvantage to the young André; a pleasure-loving and playful man, he had balanced out his possessive and disciplinarian wife. Juliette Gide was a strict Protestant who micromanaged her son’s spiritual development, repeatedly thwarting his desires and interests in the name of morality. Anything that aroused the young Gide’s enthusiasm was viewed with mistrust, including, for instance, the Chopin that he longed to learn to play on the piano (he was a gifted musician). When Gide was twenty-five, his mother was still writing to his uncle complaining about the bad effect “this Goethe, of whom he speaks constantly” was having on his son. In a world where Chopin and Goethe could be viewed as pernicious influences, it is not surprising that Gide would grow up to declare bitterly: “Laws, proprieties, ruthless self-discipline, the love of mystical affections have constituted all my joys — the greatest of them solitary and care-ridden — and gave to every pleasure in living the bitterness of sin.” Like any child who has been forced to repress too much of his natural exuberance, the young André was prone to nervous ailments. Headaches, insomnia and difficulty eating often kept him out of school, but also away from bullies.

Sexuality was not without its attractions to André Gide, but they were dark and devilish, shameful and violent.

His nascent religious fervour found a more congenial outlet in his relationship to his cousin, Madeleine Rondeaux. Throughout his childhood he would spend long holidays and visits with his mother’s family at Cuverville, where his five cousins lived. Madeleine was the eldest, a reserved and sensitive girl who suffered intensely in her relationship to her beautiful, exotic and somewhat out-of-control mother. The Christmas he was thirteen, when the families were all in Paris, André returned home after a visit to his cousins only to find his own house empty. And so he turned around and went back. The household of his cousins was in disarray, his aunt “indisposed” on the sofa, being tended to by her two younger daughters, and Madeleine, crying and praying in the darkness of her room. “You shouldn’t have come back,” she told him, and in a moment of precocious revelation, Gide realised that her mother was having an affair. The image of Madeleine in her damaged innocence had a potent effect on the young André, who shouldered, at that point, the burden of courtly love for his cousin. This exact scene appears in the highly autobiographical La Porte étroite (Strait is the Gate), and the narrator declares: “Drunk with love, pity and a vague mixture of enthusiasm, abnegation, virtue, I called on God with all my strength and offered myself, no longer able to imagine any other aim in life than to protect that child against fear, against evil, against life.” From this point onwards, Gide devoted himself to Madeleine, reading the books she read, writing to her daily and conducting deep religious conversations with her, either on paper or in person. She provided an ideal of purity and goodness that he exalted and embellished in his mind. Describing his adolescent love Gide wrote: “It was as if there were nothing good inside me that did not come from her. My childish love became indistinguishable from my religious fervour… It also seemed to me that, as I came nearer to God, I came closer to her…”

Portrait of André Gide
BY Marie Laurencin
FROM Les Poésies d’André Walter
(Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1922)
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Gide identified with Madeleine’s passionate piety, and he identified with her grief and confusion as a child stuck with a mother who did not suit. But he was less clear-sighted in identifying with the part of her that feared and reviled female sexuality. Only three years after the scene that affected him so deeply, Madeleine’s mother ran off with her lover and was never seen or spoken of again. All her life, Madeleine would live chastely, with a kind of obsessive purity that was clearly a reaction against her mother’s conduct. Gide was alerted by his own mother to the terrors of female sexuality, but in a different way. Anxiously policing every aspect of André’s life, Madame Gide warned one of his schoolfriends not to take a certain passage on his way home from school as it was “extrêmement mal fréquenté.” The words conjured up excessive depravity to Gide and made him both fearful and curious. He began noticing for the first time women who stood around hatless on the corners of the boulevards and who would call out cheekily to him if he strayed too close. “Years later, those questing creatures still inspired as much terror in me as vitriol-throwers,” Gide wrote in his memoirs. “I entertained the flattering thought that my repugnance was disapproval and attributed my aversion to virtue.” He knew otherwise, though. For by this time, Gide was a keen and energetic masturbator, a habit about which he wrote openly, to the point of over-sharing, in his memoir. And he was already experiencing close friendships with other boys that were romantic and intense. Sexuality was not without its attractions to André Gide, but they were dark and devilish, shameful and violent.

By the time he was twenty-one, Gide’s life had undergone a kind of triage into two dominating ambitions — marry Madeleine, become a writer — and one deeply subversive and irresistible pull towards socialising with the sort of friend who looked superficially suitable but who could be depended upon to track down vice. Gide tried to bring down both ambitions with one stone: a highly autobiographical first novel entitled Les Cahiers d’André Walter drawn heavily from his own diaries. In it, the eponymous narrator loves deeply, but from a respectful distance, his cousin, Emmanuèle. His mother is opposed to the match (as indeed she was in reality at that time), and orders her son on her deathbed to abandon his hopes. Emmanuèle marries and dies shortly afterwards, too, leaving André to a grief so great that it eventually transmutes into a fatal madness. Gide had a special copy made up for Madeleine in which the heroine bore her own name, as if she might have harboured any doubts. Although she found the book touching, Madeleine objected to her intimate life being recorded so faithfully in a story for public consumption, and promptly rejected Gide’s proposal of marriage. Quite what Madame Gide thought of being killed off in her son’s first literary attempt history does not record, but she did pay for the novel’s publication. The book sold barely any copies, but the critical response was generally warm. Gide took heart from all of this (and paid scant attention to Madeleine’s refusal). Then a few months later, the third strand of his life received an unexpected boost, when he made the acquaintance of Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde, full-length portrait, standing
with hands behind back, facing front,
leaning against a wall, c. 1882
BY Napoleon Sarony
1 photographic print on card mount: albumen.
Library of Congress
Prints & Photographs Division
LOT 12385

In the autumn of 1892, Oscar Wilde’s appearance in the salons of Paris was a big event; he had recently published The Picture of Dorian Gray and was an object of both scandal and admiration. Gide fell into an intoxicating infatuation with him and knew it was dangerous. In an unpublished note, he wrote that Wilde was “always trying to insinuate inside you the authorization of evil.” For the son of a tireless puritan, it must have been quite potent to be told, as Wilde told him: “I don’t like your lips; they are straight, like those of someone who has never lied. I want to teach you to lie, so your lips might become beautiful and twisted like those of an ancient mask.” Small wonder that once Wilde left Paris, André Gide was sighing to his friend Paul Valéry in a letter: “Forgive my silence: since Wilde I exist only very little.” Then there was a backlash, and Gide suffered a reaction to all that Wilde had awoken in him. He was determined to work harder, to stiffen his moral backbone, and to cleave to Madeleine. But Madeleine was not having any of it. She was fighting against the fondness she felt for André, more clear-sighted than he that their loving sibling relationship was not a basis for marriage. She wrote putting him off firmly, intuitively aware that he would not make good husband material. But he was steadfastly determined they should marry. Madame Gide who had always opposed the marriage was beginning to have second thoughts. She felt her moral authority was slipping away, and that only Madeleine had any useful influence over her son.

Gide was beginning to travel a great deal, and would do so for the rest of his life. One of his early trips with his friend Paul Laurens was to North Africa where both young men were determined to lose the virginity that, at twenty-four, was an embarrassing burden. Not as embarrassing, however, as Madame Gide who came in hot pursuit once she learned that André was suffering from a lung infection. Inevitably, her beady eye spotted the prostitute leaving her son’s room (quite chastely on that occasion) and she had the vapours, sobbing uncontrollably. But Gide was moving steadily out from under his mother’s dominance, and what lay beyond her laws were the erotic experiences he craved. Tunisia had proved a revelation for him, a land of free sexuality where all relations were open and accepted. When he returned two years later, he fell in by sheer chance with Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, reluctantly at first but with growing enthusiasm. Wilde took him to a Moorish café where a “marvellous youth” played on a flute. Wilde correctly identified the emotion Gide was struggling under and asked him if he would like the boy. In a strangled voice, Gide answered yes, and Wilde arranged it all. They returned to Wilde’s apartment at the hotel and the flute player arrived for Gide, with a fellow musician in tow for Oscar. In his memoir, Gide described it as one of the most significant events of his early life. “Since then, whenever I have sought pleasure, it is the memory of that night that I have pursued,” he wrote.

Much later, Gide would wonder why he ever believed that ethereal love, which was all he had to offer Madeleine, would be enough for her.

Relations with his mother were growing ever more hostile and harried. Madame Gide simply could not relinquish the attempt to control her son, and her methods were unsubtle and tenacious. The issue in question now was André’s determination to bring his North African servant, Athman, back with him to Paris, which Madame Gide declared amounted to “child abuse” given the change in climate and culture which he would have to undergo. Gide replied furiously: “I have obtained many of the best things in my life only by an obstinate resistance to the invasion of your will.” In return, Madame Gide pulled out all the stops: “Your nerves must be unbalanced… Let’s hope it doesn’t all end in some disease — cerebral fever, typhoid fever, nervous fever!” And more cannily, she suggested that Madeleine would view his actions as irresponsible and callous. Gide did eventually abandon the plan, but this last act of policing may have proved too much for his mother. She died quite swiftly of a cerebral haemorrhage only a couple of months later, with her son beside her. Gide was stunned by her death. “I felt dazed, like a prisoner suddenly set free, like a kite whose string has suddenly been cut, like a boat broken loose from its moorings, like a drifting wreck, at the mercy of wind and tides.” There was only one thing to do: he replaced her with the person most like her. Finally, Madeleine agreed to marry him.

Much later, Gide would wonder why he ever believed that ethereal love, which was all he had to offer Madeleine, would be enough for her. “Desires, I thought, were peculiar to men; I found it reassuring to believe that women — except ‘loose’ women, of course — did not have similar desires.” In fact, Gide had picked on the one woman who completely agreed with him. In the past Madeleine had written to him expressing “a mortal terror” at the thought of marriage. The scandal of her mother’s behaviour had left her with what amounted to a phobia about sexuality. But in an age where sexuality was rarely spoken about, even between married couples, and given the inevitable innocence of Madeleine, coupled with André’s own convenient beliefs about women, it is not surprising that their marriage settled down into a chaste, unconsummated union. Tellingly, Gide wrote in his journal after three months of marriage “How often when Madeleine is in the next room, I forget that she is not my mother!” It was easy for a familiar pattern to beckon, one where he had a lodestar of purity and constraint that he could leave behind for erotic adventure. Although he inherited his mother’s house in Normandy and Madeleine had Cuverville, it was not long before he was fixing himself up a place to stay in Paris. It was ostensibly somewhere to work and to socialise, but it also meant he could cruise the pissoirs and the Turkish baths with his friends, looking for action.

Did Madeleine know? Gide was often far from subtle about his inclinations. At the start of their marriage they travelled a great deal together, to countries whose attitude towards sexuality was more relaxed. Madeleine was a poor traveller, often ill, always fatigued, and Gide would take every opportunity thus presented to go in search of pleasure. There were late nights in bars, long walks in lonely places, boat rides. In Italy, he would go out on “photography” trips, finding his camera a good way to procure young men. Sometimes, it didn’t seem to matter that Madeleine was there. On their way to Algiers one sultry Easter, the Gides found themselves in one compartment of a train with three schoolboys in the next. At each stop the half-naked schoolboys would lean out of their window, and before long, Gide was leaning out of his own, “playing a game” of running his fingers up and down their bare arms. “Madeleine, who was sitting opposite me, said nothing, as if she had not seen me, did not know me… In Algiers, when we were alone in the omnibus that took us to the hotel, she finally said, in a tone of voice that seemed to express more sorrow than blame: ‘You looked like a criminal or a madman.’” Then there were the lengthy visits to Paris, when Gide brought his sexual activities much closer to home. Henri Ghéon was Gide’s constant cruising companion in Paris, and on realising her husband was in a state of exhaustion, Madeleine was once moved to write to him, declaring she felt sure it “has some connection, direct or indirect, with you.” She was making no criticism, she insisted, and was certainly not asking for information, but she begged him to remember that André’s “passionate curiosity” did “in itself involve great danger.” Madeleine was very quiet, she was very restrained and fearful of much of life, but she was not stupid and she was not unobservant. She knew.

It was the thin end of a slow, gradual but irreversible withdrawal from her husband’s life.

On yet another trip to North Africa, when Gide and Ghéon left her alone for a week while they crossed the desert, Madeleine suffered a breakdown in their absence. Not long afterwards, she stopped travelling altogether, sick at heart, one imagines, from watching her husband enjoy himself at her expense. It was the thin end of a slow, gradual but irreversible withdrawal from her husband’s life. She spent all her time at Cuverville, a place that Gide found increasingly suffocating. “Dreadful torpor,” he wrote, facing the prospect of visiting his wife. “I think with a sort of distress of the life that Cuverville holds in store for me and from which I don’t see how I will be able to escape, except by breaking bonds and freeing myself from the most revered and cherished obligations.” His last words referred to Madeleine, who continued to represent a precious attachment, but one that became ever more abstract. As their marriage progressed, Gide ended up in no better state of health than Madeleine. His nervous illnesses returned, his creativity was increasingly blocked, depression and anxiety gnawed at him. He wrote to a friend describing how one night “I wrapped myself in anguish, actually believing I was going mad… Sometimes I’m terrified to feel in my heart such a need for love…” In his journal he described the compulsion he suffered to drop everything at the sight of certain faces in the street, comparing it to a drunkard’s relationship to absinthe. “There is a compulsion here that is so imperious, a counsel so insidious, so secret, a habit so inveterate that I often wonder if I can escape it without help from outside.” In the end a different sort of help came from outside: Gide fell seriously in love.

The boy — he was all of sixteen — was Marc Allégret, a son of the Pastor who had befriended Gide in his own youth. Now it was 1914 and Pastor Allégret was away in the Cameroons, organising Protestant missions. He left “Uncle” André as a surrogate guardian to his four children remaining at home, in what looked like a neat reversal of roles. Gide was delighted to repay the man who had been a source of support and guidance in his youth, and he was also happy to have a family to stay with in Paris during the war. In no time at all the forty-eight-year-old Gide had fallen for Marc and they began a relationship that was both loving and sexual and that lasted for many years, though Marc would eventually express his preference for woman and marry at the age of thirty-seven. The intuitive Madeleine knew which way the wind was blowing. “Don’t devote yourself too excessively to the Allégrets,” she wrote to Gide. “I think there is some danger there.” Gide was altogether too euphoric, too passionate, and too desperate to heed her tentative hints. She was not speaking a language he wanted to hear. He ran away with his lover, leaving Madeleine in no doubt as to his feelings for him, and in consequence it was not his fingers that were burnt, but his letters.

“For a whole week I wept; … I wept without stopping, without trying to say anything to her other than my tears, and always waiting for a word, a gesture from her… But she continued to busy herself with petty household chores, as if nothing had happened, passing to and fro, indifferent to my presence, as if she did not even notice I was there. I hoped that the constancy of my pain would triumph over that apparent insensitivity; but no; and she doubtless hoped that my despair would bring me back to God, for she admitted no other outcome.”

Et nunc manet in te

Et nunc manet in te
BY André Gide
(Ides et Calendes, 1951)

Gide wrote this account of the days that followed the discovery of his lost letters a year after Madeleine died, in a memoir of their marriage that he published as Et nunc manet in te. Extraordinarily, he still seemed to see himself as the sole victim, and Madeleine’s pain, the loss of self-esteem she must have suffered as a woman married to an unacknowledged homosexual who was hardly ever home, made no impression on his mind. This was at least in part because Gide never stopped professing his love for Madeleine, and it was a love that he believed to be magnificent and unimpeachable, if essentially invisible to the naked eye. “The love I have for my wife,” he told his friend, Roger Martin du Gard, “is like no other, and I believe only a uranist [a homosexual] can give a creature that total love, divested of all physical desire… an integral love, in all its limitless purity.” But do we believe what Gide said, or what he did? He may well have loved Madeleine, but he spent less and less time with her, and indulged in affairs and behaviours that he must have known at some level would shock, disturb and hurt her. The burning of the letters, the sole act of protest that Madeleine ever made, was an irreversible turning point, and whether he understood it or not, Gide had to accept that his wife was hurt beyond repair. “What is the use of protesting that I love her more than anything in the world?” he wrote in his Journal. “She would not believe me.” That Madeleine may have needed actions rather than words was not a possibility Gide entertained.

We have to wonder how disingenuous Gide was in refusing to understand Madeleine’s pain, for an ever greater change now occurred in his behaviour: he began publishing works that spoke openly about homosexuality. All of Gide’s early books recounted the failure of heterosexual relations, which usually withered away before ever becoming fully formed, but this was a typical compromise with social taboos. Gide had quietly been preparing a theoretical defence of homosexuality for almost thirty years; one version of it he had privately published. But now that the decisive puncturing of the illusions and half-truths that held his marriage together had occurred, Gide was ready to reveal his sexuality to the literary world. In the mid-1920s he published not just Corydon, a series of Socratic dialogues about homosexuality, arguing its case as a natural instinct, but also his extremely revealing autobiography, Si le grain ne meurt (If it Die…) and the experimental novel that remains his most lasting legacy, Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters). The novel he wrote for Marc Allégret in order to prove to him he was a great writer, and being Gide, it contained a portrait of a homosexual couple that bore a striking resemblance to them.

Speaking out about homosexuality was a courageous act that Gide presented as a vital necessity. He knew what the fate of Oscar Wilde had been, and even though it was not a criminal offence in France, he was well aware of the social ostracism that would be attendant on a public confession of his sexuality.

Speaking out about homosexuality was a courageous act that Gide presented as a vital necessity. He knew what the fate of Oscar Wilde had been, and even though it was not a criminal offence in France, he was well aware of the social ostracism that would be attendant on a public confession of his sexuality. He was already having his works vilified by the Catholic right, and this would put “decisive weapons” in their hands, as his friend Roger Martin du Gard, also a married homosexual, informed him. But Gide was adamant, declaring: “I must, absolutely must lift this cloak of lies that has sheltered me since my youth… I’m stifling under it!” The man of sincerity asserted himself, and in essence, publication did him personal good that outweighed the public harm. Gide did lose friends, and he was poorly regarded from more conventional quarters, but the fresh lease of life he acquired from coming out of the closet more than offset the sorrows of enmity. When Gide was fifty-five, having just completed his greatest work, Les Faux-Monnayeurs, and about to embark on a year-long trip through Africa with Marc, he bumped into his friend, the playwright and director, Jacques Copeau who, ten years younger, was feeling old and disillusioned. “Where do you get that insane strength?” Copeau asked him. The answer lay in Gide’s burst of honest self-expression; he was no longer repressing important parts of himself.

The way Gide dealt with the cost in terms of his personal friendships is most intriguing. Shortly before the trip to Africa, he put up for public auction 405 items from his library that included a large number of books from friends that had been dedicated to him. Officially, Gide offered several reasons for the sale: he needed money to finance his trip; he was not bothered about material possessions; others would take care of the books better than he would. In fact, he was settling scores with friends who had betrayed him. In an interview twenty-five years later, he confessed: “The disapproval of some friends was so violent that I nearly broke with them, and that’s what brought about, at a particular moment, the book sale from my library, books by those who had repudiated me.” The original preface to the auction catalogue explained exactly why the books were up for sale, but the director of the sale had protested and rewritten it. The anecdote neatly encapsulates Gide’s character — the courage to risk offence, quiet malice, and an elegant if imperfect mask behind which the real truth safely lies.

Ironically, Gide is no longer viewed as a “good” example of queer literature because the defence he marshalled of homosexuality in Corydon is too tainted by the mores of his time. Gide defends a Hellenic view of male relationships, but decries other kinds as less admirable or pure. Nor was Gide a poster boy for heterosexual marriage, of course, although when Madeleine died in 1938, he was distraught. In his Journal he wrote that “I have lost all taste for life… I have only pretended to live, taking no interest in anything or in myself, lacking appetite, taste, curiosity, desire…” He was in “a disenchanted world, with no hope of escape.” These are strong words from a man who had lived his life essentially elsewhere, spending little time in Madeleine’s company, investing his heart and his sexuality in other people. In the end, Gide was obliged to live between two incompatible universes in an era of deeply conventional sexuality, and he made the best of the sort of marriage that was commonplace in his time but unthinkable today. He was neither a “hero” for homosexuality, nor a man who dignified his life with what would have been impressive restraint. And in many ways the real question is why we should want people to be so admirable, when the truth is that sexuality is rarely so compliant, selfless or discreet. André Gide was that most recognisable mortal, a deeply conflicted and contradictory person. Madeleine was the one who had all the moral and personal purity; throughout her life she was reserved, devout, quiet, fearful, and this emotional coherence did not seem to bring her any great reward. But Madeleine’s contribution was huge, as Gide knew and readily acknowledged. Everything he wrote was written for her; she was the lodestar, the fixed point, the stable centre against which he measure and experienced his volatile and restless self. In the distance between the two of them, his creativity grew, sometimes twisted and painful, sometimes vigorous and wild. The real tragedy was that she never really knew it.

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