5 Stories by Theophile Gautier
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And this emphasis may be reformulated as an ethical problem.
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What happens when the whole human being and form are deliberately sacrificed for the pleasure procured by the part? A quick answer might be: the fetishized thing then returns with a vengeance, to haunt everyone—characters, narrator, and reader alike. Through the painstaking of the craftsmen or poet? Something in his silent gaze embarrassed me, and as if to divert attention from it I pressed on with another question. Furthermore, in the final chapters, movement itself seems only to underscore the general tendency to petrification.
Frenham shifted his attitude, and as he did so his elbow struck against a small mirror in a bronze frame standing on the table behind him. Culwin saw the reflection also. He paused, his face level with the mirror, as if scarcely recognising the countenance in it as his own. But as he looked his expression gradually changed, and for an appreciable space of time he and the image in the glass confronted each other with a glare of slowly gathering hate.
One sees its scabrous deeds large writ. Could it be that the ethical quality of certain actions leaves discernible, readable traces on the hand or in the eye?
Vice clawed vile hieroglyphic designs Of heinous wrongs—most foul, most fell— In all its wrinkles, all its lines, Signs that the executioner knew well! It is a deliberate, self-conscious study in contrasts. The sculpted hand has been placed on velvet, as a piece of jewelry might be, throwing into sharp relief its form, color, and texture; the severed hand, which is close by, lies on a cushion.
Even more: in the second poem, esthetic and moral judgments merge. The limp, idle, pampered hand of the thief and murderer—unhardened by honest craft labor on hard material—cannot produce true art:. For you We look in vain, no sign we see.
I refer to the metaphor of moral vampirism. Culwin had dropped back into his arm-chair, his shock head embedded in the hollow of worn leather, his little eyes glimmering over a fresh cigar.
Like it or not, however, he must bestir himself to tell a story that is itself all about the acute dis comfort caused by a pair of ghostly eyes. As he insists at the beginning of his tale, by way of preview:. Idleness is harmlessness, in other words. Nothing stern or unpleasant. Why does Culwin refrain from telling Noyes the truth? Doing good must feel good. Above all: do no harm. Avoid pain, come what may. And it came over me suddenly how I should hurt others in hurting him: myself , first , since sending him home meant losing him; but more particularly poor Alice Nowell, to whom I had so longed to prove my good faith and my desire to serve her.
Culwin redefines morality in hedonistic terms, as comfort and self-indulgence: the pursuit of pleasure, the avoidance of pain. Giving pain to others means, first and foremost, giving it to oneself. He left behind no single magnum opus—whether play, poem, novel, or essay—that defined his opinions and solidified his position amidst his contemporaries. Having lived in a period of major transition in French artistic and literary tastes, it is difficult to characterize Gautier in any of the typical historical periods.
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Although his output may be in some degrees uneven, Gautier's sheer prolificness, as well as his endless creativity and iconoclasm, makes him one of the most engaging, beguiling, and important literary figures of his era. The family moved to Paris in , taking residence in the ancient Marais district.
Théophile Gautier - IMDb
It is through Nerval that Gautier was introduced to Victor Hugo , one of the most influential Romantic writers of the age. Hugo became a major influence on Gautier; it is believed that Hugo convinced him to attempt a career as a writer. Gautier began writing poetry as early as , but the majority of his life was spent as a contributor to various journals, mainly for La Presse, which also gave him the opportunity for foreign travel and meeting many influential contacts in high society and in the world of the arts.
During his career as a reporter, Gautier became a well-traveled man, taking trips to Spain , Italy , Russia , Egypt , and Algeria. Gautier's travel literature is considered by many as some of the best from the nineteenth century, often written in a personal style, providing a glimpse not only of the world, but also of the mind of one of the most gifted writers of the nineteenth century.
In , Paris erupted in revolution; King Louis Philippe would be forced to abdicate the throne and, after a period of anarchy and a brief experiment in democratic rule, Louis Napoleon would seize control of France, founding the Second Empire. During these tumultuous days, Gautier wrote at a fever-pitch. Following the revolution, Gautier's talents as a journalist would continue to be recognized. His prestige was confirmed by his role as director of Revue de Paris from During these years Gautier first began to gravitate away from Romanticism; he began to publish essays and editorials that toyed with his idea of "art for art's sake.
The s were years of assured literary fame for Gautier. The Princess offered Gautier a sinecure as her librarian in , a position which gave him access to the court of Napoleon III.
The Romance of a Mummy by Théophile Gautier
During the Franco-Prussian war, Gautier made his way back to Paris upon hearing of the Prussian advance on the capital. He remained with his family throughout the invasion and the aftermath of the Paris Commune , eventually dying on October 23, , due to a long-standing cardiac disease.
Gautier was sixty-two years old.
Gautier spent the majority of his career as a journalist at La Presse and later at Le Moniteur universel. He saw journalistic criticism as a means to a middle-class standard of living, although he complained that his work writing for newspapers drained his creative energy and prevented him from writing more poetry. Nevertheless, in his roundabout way, Gautier always manages to be an insightful and generous critic of many of the writers of his generation.
Art Criticism : At a very young age Gautier dreamed of becoming a painter, an ambition he did not abandon until he met Victor Hugo and was inspired instead to become a writer. By signing up, I confirm that I'm over View all newsletter. Books Categories. Children's Children's 0 - 18 months 18 months - 3 years 3 - 5 years 5 - 7 years 7 - 9 years 9 - 12 years View all children's. Puffin Ladybird. Authors A-Z. Featured Authors. Articles, Games and more Penguin Shop Penguin Shop Book bundles.