Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was a French poet, novelist, and critic who profoundly influenced French literature of his time. He was an ardent supporter of Romanticism and was blessed with fantastic poetic imagination. This is best exhibited in Gautier’s gothic fiction — La Morte Amoureuse (Clarimonde), The Mummy’s Foot, and Avatar to name a few. He was held in high esteem by prominent literary figures like Gustave Flaubert, Baudelaire, Balzac, and Oscar Wilde. Gautier was the director of Revue de Paris from 1851-1856.
La Morte Amoureuse is a classic Gothic vampire tale with numerous references to Orientalism. It delineates the story of a priest named Romuald, who is seduced by a beautiful woman — Clarimonde. With time, it becomes clear that Romuald’s beloved is a vampire, who thrives on his blood. While alive, she was a courtesan living in Palace Concini — a place of great debauchery. Romuald, however, lives with no regrets. He ends up being a two-face: a priest during day and a lover to an undead at night. Finally, an older priest becomes aware of the situation, digs out Clarimonde from her grave, and turns her to dust with holy water. Clarimonde comes back to Romauld one last time that night and tells him he would regret this all his life, but won’t get her back. The vampire’s prophecy turns out to be true as Romuald lives with a broken heart for the rest of his life.
This novella is an established classic and is bound to leave an impression on the lovers of gothic literature.
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