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Forgotten classic: La Morte Amoureuse by Théophile Gautier

theophile gautier la morte amoureuse

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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Opinion & Featured Articles

Dracula vs. Twilight — The Ever Changing Vampires

Dracula vs. Twilight

You were 16 when you read Stoker’s Dracula and you were bloody afraid to leave the windows open at night. Count Dracula, with all his gothic associations, made quite an impression on your mind and threatened to be as scary as human imagination would let him be.

But hey, not all vampires are one-dimensional sinister bloodsuckers. You simply cannot ignore the vegetarian, metrosexual creatures of the night who are about as threatening as Justin Bieber and can walk in broad daylight. Gentlemen, meet the erudite Twilight vampire.
In spite of their chemical differences, vampires of all ages have one common feature — they are positively Freudian by nature. Right from Fanu’s Carmilla to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (with the possible exception of I Am Legend), repressed human desires are consistently represented through the children of the dark. For good or for worse, the semblance stops here. Dracula, with all his vice, is sublime from a certain perspective. Modern vampires seem like a metaphor for corrupt individuals who screw less fortunate people to survive. They are one hundred percent genuine suckers.

Dracula was written more than 115 years back. Jonathan Harker’s world had a different set of values and morals than that of us. But do we like the new vampire more than the traditional one? Are we uncomfortable with the heavy dose of morbid atmosphere and eternal damnation that Bram Stoker presents us?

Who do you want to see outside your window? The Transylvanian Christopher Lee or the de-fanged but charming Robert Pattinson? Continue reading