The Best André Gide Quotes

André Gide's work reveals how tender he was. Although his opinions on homosexuality and politics made him unpopular, he never stopped being optimistic.
The Best André Gide Quotes

Last update: 21 July, 2020

These André Gide quotes show his true character. Gide was a genius, a humanist, and a deep thinker. Not only did he make a name for himself as a writer, but he was also renowned for his criticism of French colonialism in Africa.

Gide lived during a tumultuous time in history, when many things were still taboo. He faced significant moral dilemmas his whole life, especially those related to love, truth, and sexuality. We can see this clearly in many of his quotes.

“Through loyalty to the past, our mind refuses to realize that tomorrow’s joy is possible only if today’s makes way for it; that each wave owes the beauty of its line only to the withdrawal of the preceding one.”

-André Gide-

A lot of his work feels autobiographical. His life, after all, was full of dilemmasHowever, his quotes were very positive. Gide’s appraisals aren’t judgmental, in spite of the fact that he was an outcast among his contemporaries.

Here are some of his best quotes.

The secret to happiness

This is one of André Gide’s most beautiful quotes. It says: “The secret of happiness is not doing what one likes, but liking what one has to do”.

Gide is right when he says that pleasure doesn’t come from simple effort. More than a goal in and of itself, pleasure is a consequence. Trying your best at something you love is a declaration of freedom that leads to satisfaction.

A woman looking at mountains.

An André Gide quote about material possessions

A lot of people have talked about material possessions, including Gide: “Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you”.

This is a beautifully written quote that reiterates the fact that giving is the active manifestation of possessing. You can give because you have something to give. If you don’t give anything, even if you have it, you don’t possess anything.

On the contrary, you belong to the thing you’re keeping for the sake of having it. The desire to keep something because you feel you don’t have enough is overpowering. Thus, your possessions can end up holding you prisoner.

The most beautiful things

Many André Gide quotes have a delicate, unpretentious, and poetic tone. This one, for example, says: “The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes”. Here, Gide declared that beauty is the result of a marriage between madness and reason.

In his eyes, madness is a creative force. That absurd passion is what results in something new. However, it only becomes beautiful if reason shapes it. Consequently, in the world of ideas, imagination and senselessness should dominate. This gives place to art, without the intellectual side getting in the way and forcing it to stick to the rules of logic.


André Gide was a traveler who loved learning about new cultures and different ways of life. Travelers are curious people. They aren’t afraid of new things and they face adventure with courage and determination. This applies to physical journeys as well as intellectual or spiritual ones.

This next André Gide quote really captures his adventurous spirit:  You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. This is also a metaphor about the importance of leaving what you know to broaden your horizons and open yourself up to change.

A woman with a suitcase walking down the road.


This next quote is also very wise: “If you don’t feel happiness very often, it’s because it manifests in different ways that you expect it to”. It highlights the contrast between the idea of happiness and happiness as a concrete reality.

People tend to believe that happiness lies in the things they don’t have or the goals they didn’t accomplish. Instead, we should identify the happiness of each moment.

André Gide won the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature. His work guided and inspired many of his contemporaries, such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. André Gide left an indelible mark on culture and literature.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gide, A. (2012). Corydon. Editions Gallimard.
  • Gide, A. (1981). Defensa de la cultura (Vol. 1). Ediciones de la Torre.
  • Gide, A. (1988). El inmoralista (Vol. 96). Ediciones Catedra.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.