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The Vatican Cellars

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Set in the late 19th century, chiefly in Paris and Rome, this drama involves the alleged abduction of the Pope, a "miraculous" conversion, swindling, adultery, bastardy and murder. The characters are a motley crew of noblemen, saints, adventurers and pickpockets. Set in the late 19th century, chiefly in Paris and Rome, this drama involves the alleged abduction of the Pope, a "miraculous" conversion, swindling, adultery, bastardy and murder. The characters are a motley crew of noblemen, saints, adventurers and pickpockets.


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Set in the late 19th century, chiefly in Paris and Rome, this drama involves the alleged abduction of the Pope, a "miraculous" conversion, swindling, adultery, bastardy and murder. The characters are a motley crew of noblemen, saints, adventurers and pickpockets. Set in the late 19th century, chiefly in Paris and Rome, this drama involves the alleged abduction of the Pope, a "miraculous" conversion, swindling, adultery, bastardy and murder. The characters are a motley crew of noblemen, saints, adventurers and pickpockets.

30 review for The Vatican Cellars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Justin Evans

    Wonderful, but also a bit of a hot mess. The Vatican Cellars starts off as a painfully dull 19th century novel of family disagreement, roughly as entertaining as Fontane, and then, for no apparent reason, turns into a glorious farce involving a fake pope kidnapping, an egregiously intrusive narrator, a motiveless murder (well before Camus), metanarrative silliness, a beautifully executed plot resolution, and a typically excellent Gidean moral conundrum: if we judge morality based on intention, c Wonderful, but also a bit of a hot mess. The Vatican Cellars starts off as a painfully dull 19th century novel of family disagreement, roughly as entertaining as Fontane, and then, for no apparent reason, turns into a glorious farce involving a fake pope kidnapping, an egregiously intrusive narrator, a motiveless murder (well before Camus), metanarrative silliness, a beautifully executed plot resolution, and a typically excellent Gidean moral conundrum: if we judge morality based on intention, can an act be wrong if it's unmotivated? This must slot into the fake pope kidnapping in some way, but I haven't puzzled that out yet, unless those who charge this book with nihilism are right, and the point is that the very idea of intention is useless, just as the pope-as-symbol is (this book suggests) empty, given that we can never be certain that the pope is actually the pope, and not someone stuck on the throne by conspiratorially minded free masons. All of which is great. The difficulty is getting through that god-awful opening, which Gide clearly knew was god-awful, but kept there just to make sure you realized that he was making fun of such very respectable people in the text that followed. It's intellectually satisfying, but aesthetically offensive, and certainly I'll be skipping it when I re-read this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Senryu Review Papal abduction ruffles novelist and kin in muddled caper

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecka

    I find it difficult to fully explain how disappointed I am with this book. Not only did it take me quite long to read, but it never even came close to interesting me. The various plots? Bah. Couldn't care less. The writing? Atrocious. I can't stand characters who talk to themselves Days of our Lives-style. The characters? Brutally boring (and what's with the names?). Lafcadio has a shimmer of intrigue to him, but not enough to make up for the extreme platitude of the rest of the cast. The female I find it difficult to fully explain how disappointed I am with this book. Not only did it take me quite long to read, but it never even came close to interesting me. The various plots? Bah. Couldn't care less. The writing? Atrocious. I can't stand characters who talk to themselves Days of our Lives-style. The characters? Brutally boring (and what's with the names?). Lafcadio has a shimmer of intrigue to him, but not enough to make up for the extreme platitude of the rest of the cast. The female characters? Wait, were there any? Except for the characterless fool and the even more characterless whore? French literature, here you failed miserably.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rob Atkinson

    A new addition to the list of my all time favorite novels. Funny how that often seems to be the case with things I picked up decades ago and left languishing on my shelves, unread! A brief mention of Lafcadio in Sanouillet’s "Dada In Paris" finally piqued my interest. This is a nasty, witty farcical novel which squarely takes aim at the credulous and convention-bound, particularly those of a pious bent. I won't share any spoilers as to the plot, so as not to deny the same pleasure I felt reading A new addition to the list of my all time favorite novels. Funny how that often seems to be the case with things I picked up decades ago and left languishing on my shelves, unread! A brief mention of Lafcadio in Sanouillet’s "Dada In Paris" finally piqued my interest. This is a nasty, witty farcical novel which squarely takes aim at the credulous and convention-bound, particularly those of a pious bent. I won't share any spoilers as to the plot, so as not to deny the same pleasure I felt reading "Lafcadio's Adventures" to the uninitiated. The eponymous hero is amorality incarnate, and recalls Dorian Grey in some respects, notably in his beauty. A host of cunning rogues and blinkered fools populate his world, as the action jumps from Paris to the south of France to Rome and Naples. I expect that in 1914 when this was released under its original French title "Les Caves du Vatican" it must have offended all the right people.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    Andre Gide the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947 is talked about less now than when I was attending secondary school in the 1970s. Because of his great reputation, I laboured through a half-dozen or so of his works before I tired of him. I found several of his works (La Porte Etroite, La Symphonie Pastorale and l'Immortaliste) to be remarkable primarily for the lack of joy they created in the reader's spirit. I suggest then that someone wishing to know more about Gide start with Le Andre Gide the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947 is talked about less now than when I was attending secondary school in the 1970s. Because of his great reputation, I laboured through a half-dozen or so of his works before I tired of him. I found several of his works (La Porte Etroite, La Symphonie Pastorale and l'Immortaliste) to be remarkable primarily for the lack of joy they created in the reader's spirit. I suggest then that someone wishing to know more about Gide start with Les Caves de Vatican which is the only of his novels that I have read that I have found to be truly funny. It is sparkling and full of Gallic wit. It comments on the evil of gratuitous actions and also stands as a good example of the Symbolist literary movement. Try reading this short book described by the author as a sotie (which Larousse defines as a 'piece of gross buffoonery written for fools'). If you enjoy it, then you might try The Counterfeiters (Les faux-monnayeurs) which would be Gide's masterpiece if in fact he has one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Kemp

    "Is it possible to choose freely to do evil?" is the question that Gide set out to explore in this "sotie", a kind of light-hearted philosophical jeu d'esprit and satire, interesting too as an early novelistic exploration of the theme of paranoia and conspiracy theory. The answer is no, but much fun is had at the expense of the Church and bourgeoisie along the way. "Is it possible to choose freely to do evil?" is the question that Gide set out to explore in this "sotie", a kind of light-hearted philosophical jeu d'esprit and satire, interesting too as an early novelistic exploration of the theme of paranoia and conspiracy theory. The answer is no, but much fun is had at the expense of the Church and bourgeoisie along the way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lafcadio

    I read it for... obvious reasons, but didn't enjoy it all that much. I read it for... obvious reasons, but didn't enjoy it all that much.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Gide has a brilliant ability to weave subplots together into a unified narrative, while offering perspectives and shades of meaning from characters who seem peripheral, but whose final integration into the novel becomes essential. His structural form is quintessentially modernist. Lafcadio's Adventures (or The Vatican Cellars) is the funniest and most satirical work I've read so far from Gide, telling the story of various con artists and ne'er-do-wells who hatch plots to trick faithful Catholics Gide has a brilliant ability to weave subplots together into a unified narrative, while offering perspectives and shades of meaning from characters who seem peripheral, but whose final integration into the novel becomes essential. His structural form is quintessentially modernist. Lafcadio's Adventures (or The Vatican Cellars) is the funniest and most satirical work I've read so far from Gide, telling the story of various con artists and ne'er-do-wells who hatch plots to trick faithful Catholics into handing over money in the belief that their current Pope is an imposter and that the real Pope is being held hostage. Amid these enjoyable chapters is thrust Lafcadio, whose "adventures" involve a motiveless murder, which ends up pulling Lafcadio further into the machinations of the con artists and their victims. Throughout the novel, Gide provides a sharp critique of the way religious acolytes exist so separate from the tenants (and leaders) of their church that they might as well be living totally independent from their own religion, at least morally speaking. At the personal or individual level, our interactions with each other are so full of rationalizations, hypocrisies, and morally dubious shenanigans that followers of any faith might very well be living as if their leaders were imposters and their religions were shams; the impossibility of gaining access to the power of faith (both in terms of the structure of their churches and the dogma of their belief) places each person in a position of ethical limbo. (There are no literal Vatican cellars, but we are all essentially living beneath them!) We might as well just be cast adrift to figure it all out on our own. And so Lafcadio must do so, ultimately caught between the frauds of religion, social relations, and the law -- none of which can save him. The question becomes: can love save him, or is it another ruse? Can Lafcadio save himself at all from the metaphorical cellars? Can any of us do so?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    Les Caves du Vatican by Andre Gide rests on The 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read list https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... though the under signed wonders why Seven out of 10 ‘Nothing like the Sun’ comes to mind when reading (somewhat across the pages of) Les Caves du Vatican and finding that Andre Gide (an awful, disgusting reader would might even say the rather overrated author) has refused A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, the Absolute Best Magnum opus, by the greatest writer of all time, Marce Les Caves du Vatican by Andre Gide rests on The 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read list https://www.theguardian.com/books/200... though the under signed wonders why Seven out of 10 ‘Nothing like the Sun’ comes to mind when reading (somewhat across the pages of) Les Caves du Vatican and finding that Andre Gide (an awful, disgusting reader would might even say the rather overrated author) has refused A La Recherche du Temps Perdu, the Absolute Best Magnum opus, by the greatest writer of all time, Marcel Proust, only to produce this mouse of a work (as in the mountains did battle and all they produced is a lousy mouse, though it sound much better in Latin) the Shakespeare sonnet does allow for a Reversal of Fortune ‘And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare, As any she belied with false compare’…which not something that happened to this reader, when struggling in the Vatican Caves… To add insult to injury, after refusing the Divine Proust, Gide introduces a…Romanian born character into his ‘sotie’ – somehow, Andre Gide admitted the Caves of the Vatican are just a silly thing, or stupid work, he has also repented for the refusal of the A La Recherche, calling it the gravest error, one of his most painful regrets, or something like that…maybe with some of this on his mind he would refuse to enter the French Academy of the Immortals, but then would get the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1947, begging again the question why and continuing to be facetious- without any research… Nationalists might be up in arms (but then they do not read on a regular basis, and when they do, it is not novels, romantic, comical or otherwise, but treaties of (mythical, false) history that speak volumes about the grandiose, conflated past of their land, where the most valiant, intrepid, intelligent of superhuman live) if they look at Lafcadio Wluiki, a bizarre fellow, born in…Bucharest, and baptized with a name that sounds as Romanian as Congolese, Burmese and would have fundamentalist patriots rising up and crying like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas http://realini.blogspot.com/2019/06/g... 'what do you mean I'm funny...funny how?!’ Continuing on this vicious path, of dismissing the Caves of the Vatican, especially when compared with the monumental, divine, magnificent, Ultimate chef d’oeuvre of Marcel Proust (incidentally, Gide and Proust would have quite good friends in a world where the fact that they were both gay, erudite, lovers of art would have been all that mattered, but in reality, they would correspond and clash on a number of issues where they did not see eye to eye) and mention the mosquito joke, in which the mosquito rings the door at the elephant’s house, when the latter answers wants to know if the female elephant is home and then when asked who is asking, he says ‘tell her it is John, for the discotheque’ and waves his (maybe long, wavy, curly) hair around…this is more of a visual blague I would say, so albeit I am a perfect joke teller (as demonstrated above) it does lose through this medium, for one has to tell it and then move the head about languorously, to give the impression of the naughty mosquito…and yes, the Caves of the Vatican are the mosquito, to the In Search of Lost Time masterpiece http://realini.blogspot.com/2014/04/l... Now setting jokes, hyperbole and lamentations aside, there seems to be an interesting, satirical thread to begin with, when we follow (in this reader’s case only some of) the exploits of Anthime Armand – Dubois, a freemason that experiments cruelly -though this is also preposterous to large extent, for things have not changed recently, and even if animals rights are talked about and there are moves to offer them a better life, billions are still tortured, abused and then slaughtered by humans, as one of the greatest luminaries of this day states in his stupendous Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind http://realini.blogspot.com/2021/02/s... – on poor animals, blinding, deafening them and furthermore, for no apparent higher purpose… Which reminds the under signed of the fantastic Love in Infant Monkeys, the Pulitzer Prize finalist in which we have short stories with Madonna, and the arrogance of the nouveaux riches, Sharon Stone and a Komodo dragon, and a reference to the terrible experiments conducted by Harry Harlow, who separated infant monkeys from their mothers, to see what the effects would be, placing wire, cloth surrogate mothers in the cages and seeing the isolated babies grow up with disastrous PTSD effects, such as mothers eating from their babies http://realini.blogspot.com/2021/08/t... The rather vile Anthime ‘works on living flesh’ as a free thinker, but then, when his illness is cured as a consequence of the prayers said for him by a child (presumably), he has an epiphany, converts to Catholicism and everybody hears about him and the miracle produced…it looks like the Virgin appeared to him, though this is not consecrated and proved – in which case I presume he would have been in line for sainthood, or is it a much more complex process and the Man-Saint has to do more than just see the Intangible, Immaculate and all the rest of it – and even Pope Leo XIII apparently knows about this transformation. The repentant, changed, converted man has promises of a the good life, only he is worried that the freemasons would turn against him and cause ruin, for the material wellbeing depends on them (one could laugh at this good satire and say hey, it does not matter, this is exactly the point, for it is more difficult for a rich man to get into paradise than it is for the camel to walk through the needle, or something similar, as it is clear, I am not a fervent, devoted Christian) and he has investments controlled by the Lodge. There is another calamity in the works, for they talk of the kidnapping of the Pope himself, his sanctity had been apprehended and then locked in…The Vatican Caves, where else, and people are collecting money for his release and try to organize a ‘Crusade for the Deliverance of the Pope’, anticipating the collections of funds that take place in the USA and around the world, for all kinds of idiotic causes – to fight the Big Steal, get the most stupid man on earth elected again, for the benefit of his equally idiotic worshippers – though some of those swindlers operate with a very efficient formula…a study mentioned in The Economist looked at the simplicity of the message of those crooks and found that it works to their advantage, for they do not want a complicated, sophisticated scheme, the stupidity of the plot they propose (as in the Pope is in the caves, The Very Stable Genius has won the elections) is good for selecting the most naïve, ignorant target audience, so that they send the dough, no questions asked…

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom Schulte

    Wow, I really dug this Gide tale. Zany and witty, I think it would make a great screwball comedy movie, I hope someone makes it! Then there is this Avant-garde/Surrealist fascination with unmotivated murder, from the André Breton quip, André Breton: Arbiter of Surrealism ("“The simplest Surrealist act,” wrote André Breton, founder of Surrealism, “consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.”) to the Surrealist A Wow, I really dug this Gide tale. Zany and witty, I think it would make a great screwball comedy movie, I hope someone makes it! Then there is this Avant-garde/Surrealist fascination with unmotivated murder, from the André Breton quip, André Breton: Arbiter of Surrealism ("“The simplest Surrealist act,” wrote André Breton, founder of Surrealism, “consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.”) to the Surrealist Anti-Novel innovator Camus and The Stranger ... all these random acts of violence and the dwelling on the psyche that leads to a random killing. It all seems motivated by a modernistic ennui and chilling when artfully done so...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    André Gide is not always a fun writer. His Strait Is the Gate is a work of devout even pseudo religiosity. It didn't take long for Gide to have a Freemasons' cabal hold Pope Leo XIII captive in the caves under the Vatican and replace him with a lookalike, just so that his hero can collect money from the devout rich to release him. Lafcadio's Adventures is lighthearted throughout, even though one of Lafcadio Wliuki's "marks" gets pushed off a train to his death near Capua. The plot ranges from Fr André Gide is not always a fun writer. His Strait Is the Gate is a work of devout even pseudo religiosity. It didn't take long for Gide to have a Freemasons' cabal hold Pope Leo XIII captive in the caves under the Vatican and replace him with a lookalike, just so that his hero can collect money from the devout rich to release him. Lafcadio's Adventures is lighthearted throughout, even though one of Lafcadio Wliuki's "marks" gets pushed off a train to his death near Capua. The plot ranges from France to Italy and involves, on one hand, a cast of what Lafcadio calls "slims," and, on the other, what he calls the "crusted" those who have money and are not a little stupid.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anesa

    Possible spoiler-- Despite my expectation that Gide must be a thoroughly anti-establishment writer, developments in this racy and sometimes humorous narrative place the author in company with Dan Quayle and other conservatives who’ve decried the evil effects of illegitimate births & child-rearing. Lafcadio’s “unmotivated crime” comes to pass as a result of his rootless lifestyle and devotion to fleeting amusements. The evil impulse fills an emptiness where attachment is lacking. His mother’s want Possible spoiler-- Despite my expectation that Gide must be a thoroughly anti-establishment writer, developments in this racy and sometimes humorous narrative place the author in company with Dan Quayle and other conservatives who’ve decried the evil effects of illegitimate births & child-rearing. Lafcadio’s “unmotivated crime” comes to pass as a result of his rootless lifestyle and devotion to fleeting amusements. The evil impulse fills an emptiness where attachment is lacking. His mother’s wanton ways in passing him from uncle to uncle clearly established the unfortunate pattern! And despite being drawn to pleasure, Lafcadio is also a bit of a Buddhist: he enters the void outside of social convention and even finds it possible to “quit a society as simply as all that, without stepping at the same moment into another…” A very interesting read!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    A delightful, sprightly farce infused with a buoyant energy that captures the essence of old-world Europe. The original title, "The Vatican Swindle," seems more appropriate. While Lafcadio enables the crux of Gide's philosophical musings, there's much more to this story than that. Although I was interested in Gide's exploration of "a crime without motive," I found his descriptions of bed bugs much more memorable and entertaining. A great book for an armchair traveler, or a backpacking/train adve A delightful, sprightly farce infused with a buoyant energy that captures the essence of old-world Europe. The original title, "The Vatican Swindle," seems more appropriate. While Lafcadio enables the crux of Gide's philosophical musings, there's much more to this story than that. Although I was interested in Gide's exploration of "a crime without motive," I found his descriptions of bed bugs much more memorable and entertaining. A great book for an armchair traveler, or a backpacking/train adventure in Europe.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Theediscerning

    To talk of the volume – it's great; you can learn all you need to from the one-page introduction, tackle the actual novel, then find out what the heck it's all about courtesy the closing essay once you've given up. For give up you will – even if it's well after the halfway mark. I'd not even reached the cellars, and I'd not got to THAT scene, but I really don’t think I missed much – it's all waffle, pretentiousness for the sake of pointing out religious pretentiousness, and gets nowhere fast. It To talk of the volume – it's great; you can learn all you need to from the one-page introduction, tackle the actual novel, then find out what the heck it's all about courtesy the closing essay once you've given up. For give up you will – even if it's well after the halfway mark. I'd not even reached the cellars, and I'd not got to THAT scene, but I really don’t think I missed much – it's all waffle, pretentiousness for the sake of pointing out religious pretentiousness, and gets nowhere fast. It's NOT funny. Yes, it has a light-hearted early modernist style, but it's poor.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Felix

    An odd book (maybe I missed something crucial?). The way I perceive it, there are essentially three different books here, rolled into a slim volume: 1. A social satire, a Balzac parody of sorts. 2. A caper about swindlers. 3. A poor man's Crime and Punishment, with an open ending. But all three share the same characters! I liked Book 2 the best, it was uproariously funny; I laughed aloud a lot. An odd book (maybe I missed something crucial?). The way I perceive it, there are essentially three different books here, rolled into a slim volume: 1. A social satire, a Balzac parody of sorts. 2. A caper about swindlers. 3. A poor man's Crime and Punishment, with an open ending. But all three share the same characters! I liked Book 2 the best, it was uproariously funny; I laughed aloud a lot.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    A rolicking, entertaining satire republished and retranslated in 2014, 100 years after its first publication. It makes fun of those of faith, the bourgeois, the gullible and the innocent. All are victims, except perhaps the illegitimate. A much more comprehensive review here at Word by Word. A rolicking, entertaining satire republished and retranslated in 2014, 100 years after its first publication. It makes fun of those of faith, the bourgeois, the gullible and the innocent. All are victims, except perhaps the illegitimate. A much more comprehensive review here at Word by Word.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven Monrad

    My first Gide; atheism, anti-clericalism, Catholicism, crime, moves fast, the philosophy is in the action I guess. Caves du Vatican is the correct title, cellars is a poor translation but the book has a good translation.

  18. 5 out of 5

    J de Salvo

    One of the finest Novels ever written. One in a cycle of Old Great Novels about "Crime and Punishment", which includes Dostoevsky, Gide, Camus, and Celine, that Nazi. One of the finest Novels ever written. One in a cycle of Old Great Novels about "Crime and Punishment", which includes Dostoevsky, Gide, Camus, and Celine, that Nazi.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rares Hudac

    Unexpected The first 1/3 of the book goes on and blabs about nothing and nothing without giving signs of wiling to be interesting; then, by the time you get to it's half, you are bombarded with everything you could want from a book-> plot twists, kidnappings, murders, more plot twists, and all the characters coming together (more or less) in the end; almost as if by the end, the author is trying to make up for the boredom caused at the beginning. In regards to the themes, there is, again, a bit of Unexpected The first 1/3 of the book goes on and blabs about nothing and nothing without giving signs of wiling to be interesting; then, by the time you get to it's half, you are bombarded with everything you could want from a book-> plot twists, kidnappings, murders, more plot twists, and all the characters coming together (more or less) in the end; almost as if by the end, the author is trying to make up for the boredom caused at the beginning. In regards to the themes, there is, again, a bit of everything: religion, love, family, life in general, crime; these are combined with some parts where the story tries to be funny (but it pretty much fails). Probably the worst thing about it (besides the horrible beginning) is the author. The author sometimes tries to be, let's say a 'character', by giving direct explanations or by writing ''I'm not going to detail because it might bore you'', or ''But this description will be found interesting only by a certain type of readers''; first of all, we don't care; second of all, can we please skip to the good part? All in all, it's pretty enjoyable if you get to it's half and can get over the author's constant interruption .

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Bogart

    At the exact midpoint between Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Camus' The Stranger, except tonally it's pitched as an ironic farce, or a black comedy, rather than an existential tract. I kept seeing glimpses of studio auteurs like Hitchcock, Lubitsch, Wilder, or Welles in the poker-faced treatment of existential absurdity, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were all familiar with Gide's novel. Although this Vintage edition was published in 2003, the translation is the same as the one that At the exact midpoint between Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Camus' The Stranger, except tonally it's pitched as an ironic farce, or a black comedy, rather than an existential tract. I kept seeing glimpses of studio auteurs like Hitchcock, Lubitsch, Wilder, or Welles in the poker-faced treatment of existential absurdity, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were all familiar with Gide's novel. Although this Vintage edition was published in 2003, the translation is the same as the one that Knopf published in 1925 under the title The Vatican Cellars, which is a literal rendering of the French title. (I suppose since the circa-1890s conspiracy theory that the Pope was being imprisoned in a castle that communicated with the Vatican by an underground tunnel is no longer a living memory, the title no longer has the same resonance.) This is supposedly Gide at his most frivolous; his major works, and landmarks in gay literature, are The Immoralist and The Counterfeiters; since there's only a glancing reference to homosexual desire here, it's not as much in the canon, but the themes of impulsive (criminal) behavior, of carrying a secret self around within one, of rapid conversions between blasphemy and piety and back again, are, though treated with a certain ironic distance, still resonant. I laughed out loud several times while reading this novel, which is difficult to get me to do, which is a tribute not only to Gide's masterful handling of situation and character, but also to the translator's judicious treatment of the language: my preference for earlier translations as being closer to the historical spirit of the text paid off here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Augustina Vasile

    Unlike my good habits, I have read this book without researching the author or his work beforehand. Therefore, I ended up pacing through the book and considering it a light reading, some kind of sordid literary joke. Moreover - in spite of the fact that I love open endings - this 'grand finale' disappointed me by what I thought to be a lack of capacity to tie the knots of the plot. But my OCD reading skills determined me to find out some more about André Gide's work and especially about "Les Cave Unlike my good habits, I have read this book without researching the author or his work beforehand. Therefore, I ended up pacing through the book and considering it a light reading, some kind of sordid literary joke. Moreover - in spite of the fact that I love open endings - this 'grand finale' disappointed me by what I thought to be a lack of capacity to tie the knots of the plot. But my OCD reading skills determined me to find out some more about André Gide's work and especially about "Les Caves de Vatican" which is known in English by a rather not accurate translation "The Vatican Celleries". I have discovered that in fact "Lafcadio's Adventures" - the official English name of the book - is indeed a joke - a mockery of the church-related conspiracy theories. Looking back on the recently finished lecture I have discovered a brilliant plot where characters are lead by self-imposed beliefs that are exagerated to absurdity on purpose in order to build a literary place where conspiracy turns the world upside-down. I suggest you read some critic works before reading this book signed by Gide (I recommend this one: http://www.andregide.org/studies/vatb...) and I also recommend reading two more of his books immediately after this one ("The Immoralist" and "Strait Is the Gate") which I plan on taking up right away. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee and a cigarette!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    Why do we behave the way that we do? Psychologists would argue about nature versus nurture, but they rarely go so far as to talk about the ongoing pressures that family and society and law and religion and culture have on us as adults. André Gide’s The Vatican Cellars, originally published in 1914, is an exploration of that very question. The exploration, however, is the subtext to a strange and funny tale of atheists who find faith, pietists flirting with atheism, con men, nihilism, misguided l Why do we behave the way that we do? Psychologists would argue about nature versus nurture, but they rarely go so far as to talk about the ongoing pressures that family and society and law and religion and culture have on us as adults. André Gide’s The Vatican Cellars, originally published in 1914, is an exploration of that very question. The exploration, however, is the subtext to a strange and funny tale of atheists who find faith, pietists flirting with atheism, con men, nihilism, misguided love—and family... Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    A mix of satire, picaresque novel and morality novel and in the end clearly a persiflage on Dostojevski, a bit faint. In general the story is very entertaining, but there's little depth! The style is condensed, the story is fast-paced, quite different from Gide's previous works. In between the story there's regularly commentary from the writer on his characters, as if they lead a life of their own. Not Gide's best! A mix of satire, picaresque novel and morality novel and in the end clearly a persiflage on Dostojevski, a bit faint. In general the story is very entertaining, but there's little depth! The style is condensed, the story is fast-paced, quite different from Gide's previous works. In between the story there's regularly commentary from the writer on his characters, as if they lead a life of their own. Not Gide's best!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Erwaves

    The book is supposed to be about moral nihilism. The pivotal scene is that in which an unattached young man , Lafcadio, kicks Fleurissoire out of the train by night, simply for play. Not sure what the take away message is, would have to dig deeper into Gide's. But I'll remember it mainly as entertaining. The running joke on Fleurissoire, the brave guy on a mission to save the Pope (something like that) made me lol. The style is between a novel and a play. The book is supposed to be about moral nihilism. The pivotal scene is that in which an unattached young man , Lafcadio, kicks Fleurissoire out of the train by night, simply for play. Not sure what the take away message is, would have to dig deeper into Gide's. But I'll remember it mainly as entertaining. The running joke on Fleurissoire, the brave guy on a mission to save the Pope (something like that) made me lol. The style is between a novel and a play.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lydia

    Never. Ever. Read. This. Novel. Ughhhhh. It's so confusing when you first start it, and it doesn't get interesting until part 4/5. Even then, the vocabulary is really hard because it's an older novel. Never. Ever. Read. This. Novel. Ughhhhh. It's so confusing when you first start it, and it doesn't get interesting until part 4/5. Even then, the vocabulary is really hard because it's an older novel.

  26. 4 out of 5

    AC

    The gratuitous act.... A great, great novel -- with a very modern, philosophical twist. Something made me think of it today....

  27. 5 out of 5

    L.J.

    http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-31...# http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-31...#

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The entire narrative felt like a struggle.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Gallup

    My first exposure to this rather unusual little book was probably in a college course called "The Experimental Novel," taught by a youngish professor whose breezy, confident persona, I thought, resembled that of Lafcadio. At about the same time, another professor, who'd lived in Paris for many years, told me about the general outrage there when Gide won the Nobel Prize. (His unpopular views on moral, political, and religious matters were better known than his literary works.) I'm pretty sure thi My first exposure to this rather unusual little book was probably in a college course called "The Experimental Novel," taught by a youngish professor whose breezy, confident persona, I thought, resembled that of Lafcadio. At about the same time, another professor, who'd lived in Paris for many years, told me about the general outrage there when Gide won the Nobel Prize. (His unpopular views on moral, political, and religious matters were better known than his literary works.) I'm pretty sure this is the only title by him that I've read in all the years since. The part of it that made a lasting impression on me was, of course, the unmotivated crime, the very notion of someone doing violence to a random stranger—not because of hatred or revenge or in hope of personal gain, but just because he's there, because—why not? (Nowadays, sadly, the idea doesn't seem nearly as shocking.) Significantly, the victim of that crime is a pathetic schmuck on a mission more quixotic than any dreamed by Cervantes, of which the narrator pitilessly commented, "At last he had his raison d'etre ... To how many beings on God's earth is it given to find their function?" I believe the book was included in that course because of the intentionally superficial treatment of its characters. It begins with an impious so-called man of science, Anthime, who has no tolerance whatsoever for religion, but on page 31 abruptly converts to Christianity and renounces his former views. His brother-in-law, Julius, starts out as a conventional believer but moves in the opposite direction, driven by a realization that he'd been operating under "an erroneous system of ethics." Despite their differences, those two characters work on the shared assumption that there is some form of order and meaning in the universe, by which they define themselves. But then there is 19-year-old Lafcadio, who recognizes no order and takes pride in not being a slave either to that which is good or that which is in his own best interests. For him, freedom means being able to "let all that can be, be!" The joke is that the story is contrived in such a way that Lafcadio undergoes a reversal as well. Throughout the story, all beliefs are shaken and forsaken, not once but repeatedly. The last page hardly feels like a conclusion, because there is little indication that the characters know what they will do, or believe, next. So all values are uncertain, and on top of that there's a persistent subversive rumor going around that the Pope is an imposter. The people most in need of moorings suddenly have none. ("Whom can one trust if not the Pope? And once the cornerstone on which the Church was built gives way, nothing else deserves to be true.") As I type this, the unreality of the basic situation in this book suddenly seems more familiar than I care to think. But for as long as possible I will reject the idea that this chilly, if not contemptuous view of life and humanity is more than a puppet-show.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Horvath Ladislau-Alexandru

    3/5 (tho it felt like a 5/5 for too long) A story with huge potential, which from my point of view was not exploited enough. This could have been another kind of Crime and Punishment. Many characters, many points of view, many protagonists (or so it felt and still none at all), many scenes, but what's the use if in the end everything remains extremely open? Cute choice of names, interesting scenes, but many felt irrelevant and could have been either left out or developed into a meaningful plot. It f 3/5 (tho it felt like a 5/5 for too long) A story with huge potential, which from my point of view was not exploited enough. This could have been another kind of Crime and Punishment. Many characters, many points of view, many protagonists (or so it felt and still none at all), many scenes, but what's the use if in the end everything remains extremely open? Cute choice of names, interesting scenes, but many felt irrelevant and could have been either left out or developed into a meaningful plot. It felt like a complete blaster for so long only to fall flat towards the end. I can't believe it. It was also a little misleading, as many mysteries are not solved in the end. It felt like a modernist approach to a wannabe late classical writing. Shame, because it could have been amazing if it went either way, but not into both direction at the same time, just like the author tried to encapsulate too much and ended up putting together too many meaningless scenes and characters. The unsolved mysteries and open ending kind of ruined it. Sorry. Huge potential wasted. Could have been much much better-explored!! I still savoured it tho.

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