L'ami hollandais, Jef Last & André Gide
by Pieter Jan Smit
"Fortunately, I'm not afraid. Not of bullets at the front and not of bullets from behind," Jef Last wrote to André Gide from Spain in 1937. Incited by his sense of social justice, Last sided with the leftwing alliance in the Spanish Civil War. But as he refused to take distance from his friend Gide at a writers' congress, he also was attacked by his communist comrades-in-arms.
Shortly before, Last and Gide had taken a fully-paid trip across the Soviet Union on the invitation of the Stalin regime. It had not escaped Gide's attention that this Utopia did not bring universal happiness, which he attested to in his book Retour de l'URSS.
Gide was branded a "traitor" and Last also came under suspicion. With Last and Gide's friendship as its leitmotif, L'Ami hollandais elaborates on political commitment and the dilemmas of artists and writers in the years 1934 -1938.
Apart from their ideals, Last, the Dutch man of letters and Gide, the later French Nobel Prize winner shared a gay sexual preference.