Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Nodier, Charles

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(1780-1844) Working name of French writer Jean Charles Emmanuel Nodier (1780-1844), whose early writings were aesthetically delicate Fin de Siècle romances and poems. Some of this work was read as subversive; one ode, La Napoléone (1802), landed him briefly in jail. His first work of genre interest – directly based on John Polidori's The Vampyre: A Tale (1819 chap) – is Le Vampire (1820) (> Vampire), a play in which Polidori's Lord Ruthven (based on Lord Byron) again appears and finally dies; this version was immediately adapted by James R Planché for the English stage as The Vampire, or The Bride of the Isles (1820). For some time it was suspected that CD had also written the anonymous Lord Ruthwen ou les Vampires (1820 2 vols), a follow-up to the Polidori tale that constitutes the first full-length vampire novel, but he was responsible only for the introduction; the book itself was written by Cyprien Bérard.

CN's later life was industrious and hermetic – he was the founder of a reclusive "cénacle" whose members were or became influential in French Romanticism. CN's own fantasies are restricted to two titles, Smarra, ou Les Démons de la nuit ["Smarra, or The Demons of the Night"] (1821) and Trilby, ou le lutin d'Argail (1822; trans anon as Trilby, the Fairy of Argyle 1895 chap US); the two texts were retranslated by Judith Landry for Smarra & Trilby (omni 1993 UK). This translation was by Nathan Haskell Dole, whose introduction makes it clear that Trilby was translated in 1895 as a result of the success of George Du Maurier's Trilby (1894). Inspired by Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare (1781), Smarra is a literary Dream whose convolutions lead a Byronic Childe brigand downwards through will-o'-the-wisp-ridden forests into Arabian-Nightmare territory, where the eponymous vampire – a malign figure spun out of the dreamworld – sucks his blood. Trilby, which derives its Scottish geography and Folklore resonance from Sir Walter Scott, is a tale of psychic Bondage in which a mortal woman is seduced and entrapped by an imp who takes on the semblance of a man; George Du Maurier's Trilby (1894) makes no reference to this story.

It has been speculated that, sometime before 1813 – when relevant portions of the text in question were first published in France – CN wrote the initial, complicatedly supernatural sections that comprise the first 10 of the 66 chapters of Manuscrit Trouvé à Saragosse (full text 1989 France; trans Ian Maclean as Manuscript Found at Saragossa 1995 UK), a work whose traditional attribution to Jan Potocki seems, nevertheless, secure; certainly no plausible reason for CN's remaining quiet about the composition has been put forward. [JC]

other works: Trésor des Fèves et Leur des Pois (trans anon as Bean Flower and Pea Blossom 1846 chap UK; new trans anon as The Luck of the Bean-Rows 1921 chap UK) and Histoire du chien de Briquet (trans as The Woodcutter's Dog 1922 chap UK), two literary Fairytales in verse.

Jean Charles Emmanuel Nodier


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.