Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Gautier, Théophile

(1811-1872) French writer, a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Many of his works, including the lushly erotic Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) – which is prefaced by his manifesto for "l'art pour l'art" – are so selfconsciously exotic as to qualify as borderline fantasies even though without supernatural content. This applies particularly to baroque historical nouvelles like Une nuit de Cléopâtre (1838; 1894 chap; trans Lafcadio Hearn as One of Cleopatra's Nights 1882 US) and Le roi Candaule (1844; 1893 chap; trans Hearn as King Candaules 1893 US; vt The Wife of King Candaules 1942). One of Cleopatra's Nights also includes a classic Femme-Fatale story about a female Vampire, "La morte amoureuse" (1836; here trans as Clarimonde 1899 chap; new trans by Andrew Lang and Paul Sylvester as The Dead Leman 1889; 1903 chap; further vts "The Vampire", "The Beautiful Vampire", "The Priest"). Hearn's collection included also the Timeslip romance "Arria Marcella; souvenir de Pompeii" (1852; trans here as "Arria Marcella"; vt "The Tourist") and two contes in a lighter vein: "Omphale" (1834; trans here as "Omphale: A Rococo Story"; vt "The Adolescent") and "Le pied de la Momie" (1840; here trans as "The Mummy's Foot"; vt "The Foot of the Princess Hermonthis").

TG's works were collected as Oeuvres (coll 1855-1874 22 vols; trans F C Sumichrast as The Works of Théophile Gautier 1900-1903 24 vols or 12 vols). Other fantasies include three notable nouvelles: Avatar (1856) tells the story of an ill fated Identity Exchange; Jettatura (1857; trans M de L 1888; new trans vt "The Evil Eye") examines the plight of a man who unwittingly falls prey to an unfortunate Curse; Spirite; nouvelle fantastique (1866; trans anon as Spirite: A Fantasy 1877; vts Spirit Love, Stronger than Death) is a sentimental tale of a love affair between a young man and a female Ghost. TG wrote the last-named item for the dancer Carlotta Grisi (1819-1899), for whom he also wrote the libretto of the ballet Giselle, but it was Carlotta's sister Ernesta who actually lived with him and bore his daughter Judith (1845-1917). Judith, who married Catulle Mendès (1841-1909), herself wrote several extravagant Oriental tales. Many collections culled from the collected works were issued subsequently, including The Works of Gautier (coll 1928 US).

TG's other long prose works with slight fantasy elements are La belle Jenny (1865; trans F C Sumichrast as "The Quartette" 1901; vt "The Four-in-Hand"), Le roman de la Momie (1858; trans Anne T Wood as The Romance of the Mummy 1863; vts The Romance of a Mummy, The Mummy's Romance), Fortunio (1837; trans Alexina Loranger circa 1890) and Le capitaine Fracasse (1863; trans Ellen Murray Beam as Captain Fracasse 1880). A recent collection of Gautier's short fantasies is My Fantoms (coll trans Richard Holmes 1976). [BS]

other works: La mille et deuxième nuit (1894 chap; trans F C Sumichrast as "The Thousand and Second Night" 1902).

Théophile Gautier


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.