Gide’s Judgment

In the May edition of New Criterion, the good doctor reviews Andre Gide’s memorable memoir of his time as a juror in the French criminal courts.

Gide’s little book might have accompanied me during my time as a doctor working in a prison and as a witness in murder trials. It raises many of the questions that ran as a refrain through my mind as I worked: At what point do circumstances excuse a man or relieve him of his responsibility? How may one be realistic without being harsh? How far can one extenuate without becoming sentimental? To what extent are we all the product of our heredity and environment? I do not foresee a time when these questions will be completely answered to everyone’s satisfaction, or even to mine.

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