Authors: Rémy de Gourmont

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French novelist, short-story writer, poet, playwright, and essayist

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Merlette, 1886

Sixtine: Roman de la vie cérébrale, 1890 (VeryWoman: A Cerebral Novel, 1922)

Les Chevaux de Diomède, 1897 (The Horses of Diomedes, 1923)

Le Songe d’une femme, 1899 (The Dream of a Woman, 1927)

Une Nuit au Luxembourg, 1906 (A Night in the Luxembourg, 1912)

Un Coeur virginal, 1907 (A Virgin Heart, 1921)

Lettres d’un satyre, 1913 (Mr. Antiphilos, Satyr, 1922)

Short Fiction:

Le Fantôme, 1893 (The Phantom, 1992)

Proses moroses, 1894

Histoires magiques, 1894 (Studies in Fascination, 1992)

Le Pèlerin du silence, 1896

D’un pays lointain, 1898

Couleurs, 1908 (Colors, 1929)

La Patience de Griseldis, 1921

The Angels of Perversity, 1992 (includes The Phantom, Studies in Fascination, and other stories)

Drama:

Lilith, pb. 1892 (English translation, 1946)

Théodat, pb. 1893 (English translation, 1916)

La Princesse Phénissa, pb. 1895

Le Vieux Roi, pb. 1897 (The Old King, 1916)

L’Ombre d’une femme, pb. 1924

Poetry:

Divertissements, 1912 (translated in Remy de Goncourt: Selections from All His Works, 1928)

Nonfiction:

Le Latin mystique, 1892

Le Livre des masques, 1896 (The Book of Masks, 1921)

Le Deuxième Livre des masques, 1898

Esthétique de la langue française, 1899 (What Is Pure French?, 1922)

La Culture des idées, 1900 (The Cultivation of Ideas, 1921)

Le Problème du style, 1902

Le Chemin de velours, 1902 (Path of Velvet, 1921)

Physique d’amour: Essai sur l’instinct sexuel, 1903 (The Natural Philosophy of Love, 1926)

Épilogues, 1903-1913 (4 volumes)

Promenades littéraires, 1904-1927 (7 volumes)

Promenades philosophiques, 1905-1909 (7 volumes

Philosophic Nights in Paris, 1920)

Dialogues des amateurs sur les choses du temps, 1905-1907, 1907

Nouveaux dialogues des amateurs sur les choses du temps, 1907-1910, 1910

Lettres à l’Amazone, 1914 (Letters to the Amazon, 1931)

Pendant l’orage, 1915

Dans la tourmente, 1916

Pendant la guerre, 1917

Lettres intimes à l’Amazone, 1928

Miscellaneous:

Remy de Goncourt: Selections from All His Works, 1928 (2 volumes)

Biography

Rémy de Gourmont (goor-mohn) represents a type of literary figure not uncommon in the nineteenth century, the detached observer of life. As a celebrated poet he contributed to the Imagist movement of the early twentieth century. A prolific novelist and short-story writer, he exhibited a lifelong fascination for the scientific study of sexuality, and these theoretical dramas offer an aesthetic contrast between intellectual heroes and the women who captivate them.{$I[AN]9810000192}{$I[A]Gourmont, Rémy de}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Gourmont, Rémy de}{$I[tim]1858;Gourmont, Rémy de}

After having been educated in Caen, a northern seaport near the English Channel, Gourmont went to Paris in 1883. That same year he assumed the position of assistant librarian at the Bibliothèque Nationale; he remained in this position until 1891, when he was dismissed for writing a seemingly unpatriotic, pro-German article in the Mercure de France, a periodical that he founded in collaboration with several other writers associated with the Symbolist movement, among them Joris-Karl Huysmans, Henri de Régnier, and Alfred Vallette.

The book that perhaps displays Gourmont’s critical abilities at their fullest is The Book of Masks, a study of the accomplishments and individuality of the Symbolist poets. This work was followed by Épilogues, a set of essays on contemporary life published in the Mercure de France. One of the most valuable achievements of Gourmont’s career was the identification of such seminal figures of the late nineteenth century literary landscape as Huysmans, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

The later studies Promenades littéraires and Promenades philosophiques cover a wide range of intellectual topics. Nevertheless, as he demonstrated in his Le Problème du style, Gourmont’s principal interest remained focused on the question of literature as a pure art form. One of the salient features of his artistic approach to literature was his practice of breaking up traditional images and ideas into parts so that these divisions could be individually scrutinized and reassembled into new patterns and associations.

After 1891 Gourmont became afflicted with the chronic and disfiguring disease lupus. After that time the most intense part of his life was lived in his own mind. This is reflected in his novels The Horses of Diomedes, A Night in the Luxembourg, and A Virgin Heart. Although few of his characters really come alive, these novels are illuminated by a compelling and individual intelligence. In A Night in the Luxembourg Gourmont also reveals a traditional Gallic defiance of orthodox Christianity.

Rémy de Gourmont died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Paris in 1915 while writing a condemnation of the German bombing of Rheims Cathedral after the 1914 escalation of war. This final reflection on militarism and morality is yet another confirmation of his discursive, analytical thinking.

BibliographyAldington, Richard. Rémy de Gourmont: A Modern Man of Letters. 1916. Reprint. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Press, 1970. Short biography and interpretation.Burne, Glenn S. Rémy de Gourmont: His Ideas and Influence in England and America. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1963. Gourmont’s critical essays are adequately evaluated.Cornell, Kenneth. The Symbolist Movement. 1951. Reprint. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1970. Discussion of Gourmont’s philosophical works are found in this study on the Symbolist movement.Lowell, Amy. Six French Poets. New York: Macmillan, 1967. Offers an insightful reading of Gourmont’s poetry.Uitti, Karl. The Concept of Self in the Symbolist Novel. The Hague: Mouton, 1961. Discussion of Gourmont’s philosophical works are found in this study on the Symbolist movement.
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