cover image Amyntas


Andre Gide. Ecco Press, $17 (159pp) ISBN 978-0-88001-165-5

These four fragmented but ardent textsone the unretouched notes of a journalrecall North Africa, scene of the homosexual Gide's first significant encounter with a beloved Arab boy. Written between 1899 and 1904, they are translated for the first time as part of the new series Ecco Travels. The allusions are to Virgil's Eclogues, in which Amyntas and Mopsus (the title of Gide's first sketch) are the names of graceful shepherds. Gide is circumspect. He describes the beauty of the Algerian male in his ""amorous lassitude.'' But the book's eroticism is submerged. It is the exotic country that enraptures him, the enchantment of the souk, the narrow odorous streets, the hashish dens, the glowing colors of sky, the desert itself. Images of burning heat and thirst, the craving for water to drink, to bathe in, become part of the voluptuous poetic prose. Gide closes the collection writing in stormswept Normandy, fiercely nostalgic for the desert and regretting that he is growing old (he wrote Amyntas in his early 30s). The excursion into the artist's mind is as intriguing as his African album. (April)