N. Y. Times Book Review: André Gide's Corydon, January 29, 1950
French writer André Gide's defense of homosexuality, translated from the French into English by Hugh Gibb, with comments by U.S. ethologist Frank Beach, was reviewed in the New York Times by Gerald Sykes, along with The School for Wives and two other short novels by Gide, translated by Dorothy Bussy. The Times review was excerpted by Jonathan Ned Katz for his book Gay/Lesbian Almanac (1983), but not used because of space considerations.
The Times reviewer said:
"In 1911, when he was already a rising star in the French literary firmament, and when his thinking had been influenced by two Americans -- the poet Walt Whitman and the sociologist Lester Ward -- Gide published 'Corydon' anonymously and almost secretly. It was not until 1924 that he acknowledged and offered for sale this fictious dialogue dealing with homosexuality which, today, seems rather old-fashioned and ill-considered.
In a preface recently written for this first edition in English he declares roundly: 'Corydon remains in my opinion the most important of my books.' Its double thesis, briefly, is (1) that homosexuality is not abnormal or unnatural and (2) that humanity has attained its highest moments when homosexuality has been tolerated."
The reviewer quoted Dr. Frank Beach of Yale, known for his research on psychology and biology, as concluding that "people who say that homosexual activities are biologically abnormal and unnatural are wrong."
Reviewer Sykes castigated Gide for failing to acknowledge and respond to "many scientific observers that homosexuality is usually to be equated with emotional immaturity." He said that Marcel Proust had done more than Gide to plead homosexuality's cause. He ended by criticizing Gide's old fashioned consigning of the women in his fiction to "the kitchen or the pedestal."
The Times noted that the reviewer, Gerald Sykes, "is a short story writer and literary critic with a special interest in psychology."
Gerald Sykes, "Gide on Love and Life," New York Times Book Review, January 29, 1950, p. 6. (The accompanying illustration is from a painting by Georges Seurat and includes the caption "With an Exquisite Grace....")