Le Voyage d'Urien (1893) by André Gide, and illustrated for the original edition by Maurice Denis, is a transitional and ambiguous work. The young Gide belongs then becomes subjected to the symbolist movement which dominates in this end of the century and from which he tries to peel off. Le Voyage d'Urien signs the slow liberation of his writing, free from ethic pressure and literary codes. During his trek, Urien and twenty of his companions sail from a "pathetic ocean" to a "frozen sea", shore on enchanted islands, die from contagious ill, reach a country full of zombies eskimos... Ellis, Urien's sister, show him the mystic meaning of this adventure which, in the final, leads to nothing. The title is a word play : le Voyage d'Urien, du rien (for nothing). The book ends with this words : "We did not made this trip", "this entire book is a lie". With this work, Gide questions himself on the sense of writing, turns aside from the sacralization of poetry for an aesthetic of irony.
The frienship between André Gide and Maurice Denis is borned from their collaboration on Le Voyage d'Urien and went on till the death of the painter. In 1893, Maurice Denis, as young as Gide, is already the theorist of the Nabis movement. He is certain of his skills and his ideas. He helps Gide to find his positions and move froim Symbolism. More than illustrations, his lithographies are a part of the creation of the novel.
- André Gide - Maurice Denis - Correspondance 1892-1945, Paris, Gallimard, 2006
- Maurice Denis exhibition at the Musée D'Orsay in Paris from october, 31 2006 to january, 21 2007