Authors: Théophile Gautier

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

French poet and critic

Author Works


Poésies, 1830 (English translation, 1973)

Albertus: Ou, l’âme et le péché, 1833 (enlarged edition ofPoésies; Albertus: Soul and Sin, 1909)

La Comédie de la mort, 1838 (The Drama of Death, 1909)

España, 1845

Poésies complètes, 1845

Émaux et camées, 1852, 1872 (Enamels and Cameos, 1900)

Dernières Poésies, 1872

Long Fiction:

Mademoiselle de Maupin, 1835-1836 (2 volumes; Mademoiselle de Maupin: A Romance of Love and Passion, 1887)

Fortunio, 1838 (novella; English translation, 1915)

Le Roman de la momie, 1856 (Romance of the Mummy, 1863)

Le Capitaine Fracasse, 1863 (Captain Fracasse, 1880)

Spirite: Nouvelle fantastique, 1866 (novella; Spirite, 1877)

Short Fiction:

Les Jeunes-France: Romans goguenards, 1833

Nouvelles, 1845

Un Trio de romans, 1852

Avatar, 1857 (English translation, 1900)

Jettatura, 1857 (English translation, 1888)

Romans et contes, 1863


Une Larme de diable, pb. 1839

Le Tricorne enchanté, pr. 1845

La Fausse Conversion, pr. 1846

Pierrot posthume, pr. 1847

Théâtre de poche, pb. 1855


Voyage en Espagne, 1843 (Wanderings in Spain, 1853)

Les Grotesques, 1844 (2 volumes; The Grotesques, 1900)

Salon de 1847, 1847

Caprices et zigzags, 1852

Italia, 1852 (Travels in Italy, 1900)

Constantinople, 1853 (Constantinople of To-Day, 1854)

Les Beaux-Arts en Europe, 1855, 1855-1856 (2 volumes)

L’Art moderne, 1856

Honoré de Balzac: Sa Vie et ses œuvres, 1858

Histoire de l’art dramatique en France depuis vingt-cinq ans, 1858-1859 (6 volumes)

Abécédaire du Salon de 1861, 1861

Trésors d’art de la Russie ancienne et moderne, 1861

Loin de Paris, 1865

Quand on voyage, 1865

Voyage en Russie, 1867 (A Winter in Russia, 1874)

Ménagerie intime, 1869 (My Household of Pets, 1882)

Tableaux de siège, 1871 (Paris Besieged, 1900)

Histoire du Romantisme, 1874 (History of Romanticism, 1900)

Portraits contemporains, 1874 (Portraits of the Day, 1900)

Portraits et souvenirs littéraires, 1875

L’Orient, 1877

Fusains et eaux-fortes, 1880

Tableaux à la plume, 1880

Les Vacances du lundi, 1881

Guide de l’amateur au Musée du Louvre, 1882 (The Louvre, 1900)

Souvenirs de théâtre, d’art, et de critique, 1883

Victor Hugo, 1902

La Musique, 1911

Critique artistique et littéraire, 1929

Les Maîtres du théâtre français de Rotrou à Dumas fils, 1929

Souvenirs romantiques, 1929

Ballet Scenarios:

Giselle: Ou, Les Wilis, 1841 (Giselle: Or, The Wilis, 1970)

La Péri, 1843

Pâquerette, 1851

Gemma, 1854

Sacountala, 1858

Yanko le bandit, 1858


The Works of Théophile Gautier, 1900-1903 (24 volumes)


Théophile Gautier (goh-tyay) was born at Tarbes in the south of France on August 30, 1811, but shortly afterward moved with his family to Paris, where he received his education. He avidly studied art and the literature of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Coming early under the influence of the Romantics, Gautier formed a group of young writers who denounced the classicists and defended Victor Hugo and other writers, some of whom were identified with the Romantic movement. Gautier’s second poetic work, Albertus: Soul and Sin, impressed the critics with its felicitous language and excellent description. Switching to a new medium, he then brought out a novel, the popular Mademoiselle de Maupin: A Romance of Love and Passion.{$I[AN]9810000312}{$I[A]Gautier, Théophile}{$I[geo]FRANCE;Gautier, Théophile}{$I[tim]1811;Gautier, Théophile}

From 1836 until his old age, in order to augment his income, Gautier wrote theater and art criticism for Paris newspapers. He was a good-tempered critic, generally pointing out the good points of a work rather than its faults; he was occasionally criticized for his lack of a true critical eye. Gautier was able to travel from time to time, and in works such as Wanderings in Spain, Travels in Italy, Constantinople of To-Day, and A Winter in Russia the writer caught the individual color and atmosphere of these places. During this period he also continued writing fiction, such as the successful Romance of the Mummy and Captain Fracasse. The latter contains elements of the picaresque and contains more humor than his other works. Gautier’s most significant work, however, is probably the volume of poems titled Enamels and Cameos. The emphasis in these short poems is on form, language, and imagery, making the work a precursor to the Imagism of the first decade of the twentieth century.

In spite of Gautier’s early adulation of the Romantics, both his poetry and prose demonstrate that in many ways he was far from adhering to their principles. In his poetry, for example, he was more interested in form than in the expression of emotions. In Enamels and Cameos, especially, critics hailed the plastic quality of his verse; one called the poems “carved gems.” Through exact language and appropriate descriptive details Gautier kept his imagery under control at all times. Because of the lack of emotion and ideas in his verse, some unfriendly critics labeled his poetry “mere prettiness.” His prose also reflects this dominant interest in form. In his novels he seems more interested in the backgrounds of his stories than in the stories themselves and more interested in the physical characteristics of his characters than in the characters themselves. Still, Gautier has been noted for the Edgar Allan Poe-like craftsmanship of the interior minds of his characters, and his use of fantasy has influenced writers as late as the 1970’s.

BibliographyBowman, Frank. French Romanticism. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990. A thoughtful study which explores the importance of religion, eroticism, and psychological instability in numerous French works of short and long fiction written during the first half of the nineteenth century. Bowman’s remarks are very relevant to Gautier’s short stories.Gordon, Rae Beth. Ornament, Fantasy, and Desire in Nineteenth-Century French Literature. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992. A solid analysis which examines the representation of obsessive behavior and sexual fantasies in fiction by Gautier and other nineteenth century French writers.Gosselin Schick, Constance. Seductive Resistance: The Poetry of Théophile Gautier. Atlanta: Rodopi, 1994. Schick’s exhaustive study begins with an analysis of the intextual repetition of Gautier’s poetry, the citations, imitations and transpositions which make evident the poetry’s displacement of the significant and the personal into aesthetic simulacra. The study covers each of Gautier’s five major collections and deals with the contextuality, the fetishism, and the eroticism revealed in a miscellany of poems.Gosselin Schick, Constance. “Théophile Gautier’s Poetry as ‘Coquetterie posthume.’” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 20, nos. 1/2 (1992): 74-84. Insightful study of the treatment of death in Gautier’s late poetry. Describes the maturity that was generally lacking in his early poetry.Grant, Richard B. Théophile Gautier. Boston: Twayne, 1975. Albeit somewhat dated, this book still remains one of the best introductions in English to the writings of Théophile Gautier. It includes an annotated bio-bibliography of primary works in French, English translations, and critical studies in both French and English.Henry, Freeman. “Gautier/Baudelaire: Homo Ludens Versus Homo Duplex.” Nineteenth-Century French Studies 25, nos. 1/2 (1996/1997). Baudelaire dedicated his 1857 book of poetry Flowers of Evil to Gautier. This essay examines how both poets created complex poems that permit several levels of interpretation.Majewski, Henry F. “Painting into Text: Theophile Gautier’s Artistic Screen.” Romance Quarterly 47, no. 2 (Spring, 2000): 84-102. Examines one important aspect of the complex intertextual signs informing Gautier’s poetry. He proposes to study the function of painting in Gautier’s poetry as a kind of artistic screen.Marino, Virginia M. “The Devil’s Discourse: The Meeting of Allegory and the Fantastic.” Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts 31 (1997): 331-346. An insightful analysis of several short stories in which Gautier leaves it to the reader’s imagination whether there is a real or a supernatural explanation for strange occurrences.Smith, Albert B. Théophile Gautier and the Fantastic. University, Miss.: Romance Monographs, 1977. A book-length study on the various types of seemingly inexplicable occurrences depicted in works of both short and long fiction written by Gautier. Includes a clear discussion of what the notion of the fantastic meant to Gautier.Smith, Nigel E. “Gautier, Freud, and the Fantastic: Psychoanalysis avant la Lettre.” In Functions of the Fantastic, edited by Joe Sanders. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. A Freudian analysis of obsessive behavior and sexual fantasies in several short stories by Gautier.
Categories: Authors