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Gautier, Théophile

Entry updated 25 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1811-1872) French author, a leading figure in the Romantic movement; father of Judith Gautier. 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 self-consciously exotic as to qualify as borderline fantasies even though without supernatural content [for fuller entry on Gautier see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below].

Of Gautier's eight novels, two are of some sf interest. Les deux étoiles ["The Two Stars"] (20 September-15 October 1848 La Presse; 1848; rev vt Partie carrée ["Menage à quatre"] 1851 3vols) [for further details see Checklist below], is a spoof of exorbitant tales of adventure, climaxing in the attempted rescue of Napoleon from St Helena by submarine (see Under the Sea). And Le Roman de La Momie (1858; trans Anne T Wilbur as Anne T Wood as Romance of the Mummy 1863) depicts the discovery of an intact millennia-old mummy in Egypt, and the unexplained transference of its memories, which ravish the discoverer, who may have experienced a form of Timeslip. But Gautier remains of greater contemporary interest for his shorter works. The first compendious translation of hiss tales into English, One of Cleopatra's Nights (coll trans Lafcadio Hearn 1882), contains a representative sample of this work; Hearn's translations were being reprinted in various formats as late as 2011, though not always acknowledged [for details on stories in this collection, and for selected republications of Hearn's renderings, see Checklist below]. The title novella is a fantasia on the personality of Cleopatra; Clarimonde is a Vampire tale; in "Arria Marcella", which is a Timeslip romance, a She figure seduces a young man in the ruins of Pompeii; in "Omphale: A Rococo Story" a tapestry comes to life; the original to whom the eponymous Mummy's Foot was once affixed appears to the contemporary gentleman, who is using it as a paperweight, and requests its return.

Tales of interest not translated by Hearn include Avatar (feuilleton 29 February-3 April 1856 Le Moniteur universel: 1857; trans anon as Avatar; Or, the Double Transformation 1888), the story of an ill fated Identity Exchange; Jettatura (1857; trans M de L 1888), which examines the plight of a man who unwittingly falls prey to an unfortunate curse; and Spirite; nouvelle fantastique (feuilleton 17 November-6 December 1865 Le Moniteur universel; 1866; trans anon as Spirite: A Fantasy 1877), a sentimental tale of a love affair between a young man and a female ghost.

Gautier's best-known shorter work of direct sf interest is "Paris Futur" (December 1851 Le Pays; trans Brian Stableford as "Future Paris" in Investigations of the Future, anth 2012, edited by Stableford), a perhaps insufficiently fictionalized description of the technological triumph of the soon-to-be-rebuilt City, whose soaring expectations are based on a profound Underground fundament (see Ruins and Futurity). [JC/BS]

see also: Eschatology; Cyril Ranger Gull.

Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier

born Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France: 30 August 1811

died Neuilly-sur-Seine, France: 23 October 1872


The bibliography of translations of Gautier into English is unusually tangled, with many titles not dealt with in this encyclopedia and so omitted here. For clarity, a selection of individual works with translations is listed immediately below; selected collections of works translated into English are listed below under Collections in Translation. It should be noted that Gautier's tales, because they are novella-length, often appear both separately and in collections.

  • "Omphale" (1834 Journal du monde artiste fashionable as "La Tapisserie amoureuse") [mag/]
  • La morte amoureuse (Paris: Librarie de la Collection de Dix, 1904) [novelette: first appeared 1836 La Chronique de Paris: illus/hb/A-P Lauren]
  • Une Nuit de Cléopâtre (Paris: A Ferroud, 1894) [novella: chap: first appeared 29 November-6 December 1838 La Presse: introduction by Anatole France: hb/]
    • Cleopatra (London: H S Nichols, 1899) [novella: trans by Lafcadio Hearn (see One of Cleopatra's Nights under Collections below) of the above: hb/]
    • One of Cleopatra's Nights (Chicago, Illinois: Privately Printed, 1929) [novella: trans by Lafcadio Hearn (see One of Cleopatra's Nights under Collections below) of the above: hb/]
  • Fortunio (Paris: Desessart, 1838) [first appeared 28 May-14 July 1837 Le Figaro as "L'Eldorado": binding unknown/]
    • Fortunio (New York: The Jenson Society, 1907) [omni with other titles: trans by F C de Sumichrast of the above: hb/nonpictorial]
  • "Le pied de momie" (September 1840 Le Musée des families) [mag/]
    • The Mummy's Foot (no place given: Project Gutenberg, 2007) [story: ebook; trans by Lafcadio Hearn of the above: translation first appeared 16-23 June 1878 New Orleans Daily City Item: na/]
  • Le roi Candaule (Paris: A Ferroud, 1893) [novella: chap: first appeared 1-5 October 1844 La Presse: hb/]
    • King Candaules (Paris: Societe Des Beaux Arts, 1890) [novella: trans anon, in fact a revision of Lafcadio Hearn's translation of the above (see One of Cleopatra's Nights under collections below): introduction by Anatole France: illus/Paul Avril: hb/nonpictorial]
    • The Wife of King Candaules (New York: Wisdom House, 1942) [novella: chap: trans anon of the above: introduction by Anatole France: illus/hb/Richard Roth]
  • Les deux étoiles ["The Two Stars"] (Paris: Tarride, 1848) [published in two volumes: first appeared 20 September-15 October 1848 La Presse: binding unknown/]
    • Partie carrée ["Menage à quatre"] (Paris: Hippolyte Souverain, 1851) [published in three volumes: rev vt of the above: additional stories in third volume: hb/]
      • La Belle-Jenny ["The Beautiful Jenny"] (Paris: Michel Lévy frères, 1865) [vt of the above: revisions possible: first appeared under this title June-September 1865 L'Univers Illustré: hb/]
      • "The Quartette" in The Complete Works of Théophile Gautier: The Gascon Edition (New York: Postlethwaite, Taylor and Knowles, 1909) [trans Frederick C de Sumichrast of the above: neither fullness nor source of translation are established: hb/]
  • "Arria Marcella" (1 March 1852 Revue de Paris as "Souvenir de Pompéi") [mag/]
  • Avatar (Paris: Michel Levy, 1857) [novella: feuilleton 29 February-3 April 1856 Le Moniteur universel: binding unknown/]
  • Jettatura (Paris: Michel Levy, 1857) [novella: feuilleton 25 June-23 July 1856 Le Moniteur universel: binding unknown/]
    • Jettatura (New York: Brentano's, 1888) [anth: trans by M de L of the above: containing fiction by other writers: hb/]
    • Jettatura (London: Percival and Company, 1891) [novella: trans by Victor J T Spiers of the above: hb/]
  • Le capitaine Fracasse (Paris: Librairie Illustrée, 1860) [binding unknown/]
  • trans Ellen Murray Beam as
    • Captain Fracasse (New York: G P Putnam's Sons, 1880) [trans by Ellen Murray Beam of the above: in the publisher's Trans-Atlantic Novels series: hb/nonpictorial]
  • Le Roman de La Momie (Paris: Hachette, 1858) [binding unknown/]
  • Spirite; nouvelle fantastique (Paris: Charpentier, 1866) [novella: feuilleton 17 November-6 December 1865 Le Moniteur universel: hb/]
    • Spirite: A Fantasy (New York: D Appleton and Company, 1877) [trans anon of the above: in the publisher's Collection of Foreign Authors series: hb/]
    • Stronger Than Death; Or, Spirite (Chicago, Illinois: Rand, McNally, 1890) [trans by Arthur D Hall of the above: hb/]

collections in translation

  • One of Cleopatra's Nights and Other Fantastic Romances (New York: Richard Worthington, 1882) [coll: trans by Lafcadio Hearn of the title novella plus five additional stories: hb/nonpictorial]
    • Stories (London: T C and E C Black, 1908) [coll: unacknowledged cut vt of the above: introduction by Arthur Ransome: hb/]
    • Tales from Gautier (London: Eveleigh Nash and Grayson Limited, 1927) [coll: vt of the above: hb/]
  • The Complete Works of Théophile Gautier: The Gascon Edition (New York: Postlethwaite, Taylor and Knowles, 1909) [coll: published in twelve volumes: the date 1901 has been given without evidence: trans by Frederick C de Sumichrast from various sources: despite title, not complete: hb/]
  • Spirite; And the Coffee Pot (Sawtry, Cambridgeshire: Dedalus, 1995) [omni/coll: trans of Spirite above plus "The Coffee Pot" (1831): pb/Lise Weisgerber]
  • My Fantoms (London: Quartet Books, 1976) [coll trans by Richard Holmes from various sources: pb/David Farris]
  • The Mummy's Foot and Other Stories (North Hollywood, California: Aegypan, 2008) [coll: trans of Clarimonde above and others: introduction by S T Joshi: pb/]
  • Clarimonde and Other Stories (Leyburn, North Yorkshire: Tartarus Press, 2011) [coll: trans by Lafcadio Hearn of all stories included in One of Cleopatra's Nights above, of which this title might be deemed an exp vt: plus other stories, translator(s) not known: introduction by Brian Stableford: hb/from Jean-André Rixens]

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