Pierre Jules Theophile Gautier; 30 August 1811 - 23 October 1872) was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, art critic and literary critic. While Gautier was an ardent defender of Romanticism, his work is difficult to classify and remains a point of reference for many subsequent literary traditions such as Parnassianism, Symbolism, Decadence and Modernism. He was widely esteemed by writers as diverse as Balzac, Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Flaubert, Proust and Oscar Wilde.
Theophile Gautier was born in 1811 and died in 1872.
Reviews - What do customers think about Le Capitaine Fracasse (Petits Classiques Larousse Texte Integral)?
Long et souvent lourd, mais très bon Jul 2, 2004
C'est le roman qui m'a fait connaître et adorer Théophile Gautier. Il s'agit de l'histoire d'un noble d'une famille ruinée qui se décide à suivre une troupe de théâtre ambulant au lieu de se morfondre dans son misérable domaine. Le noble prendra le nom du Capitaine Fracasse et donnera des représentations théâtrales de niveau amateur en France du temps de Louis XIII. Ce roman est décrit comme l'un des plus grands romans de cape et d'épée de la littérature française. Il est conforme à la période romantique, c'est-à-dire que les descriptions sont très longues dans quasiment tous les cas (parfois endormant) et l'amour parfait et impossible est en premier plan. Parfois drôle, parfois triste; les rebondissements sont nombreux, car ce roman a d'abord été publié en feuilleton en 1863. Mais, si vous ne connaissez pas Gautier, commencez par ses récits fantastiques, car Le Capitaine Fracasse est tout de même une brique de 500 pages (format paperback).
Priceless froth... Feb 12, 2004
Theophile Gautier is one of the most purely entertaining of writers. He amuses and captivates with effortless verve, and typlifies that aspect of the Romantic which celebrates the senses instead of luxuriating in the misery of being set apart from all mankind by the burden of genius. His great novel is 'Mademoiselle de Maupin,' which I will someday review, but 'Le Capitaine Fracasse' is also very famed in French literature, and is for me a book of more nurturing charm.
Gautier's supple, engaging pen whisks the fortunate reader to a derelict chateau in the south of France, baronial estate of the Sigognacs where the last of the line is living in bleak and apparently hopeless poverty amid the decayed magnificence of his ancestors. He is young and handsome, the Baron de Sigognac; an expert swordsman and possessor of every social grace that might shine at the court of the Sun King; but misery and pride make him a recluse. When during one of his solitary rides he encounters the reigning beauty of the neighborhood leading a magnificent hunting party and is treated to universal scorn, he returns to the shambles of his ancestral home in the kind of despair that can only end in suicide. It is at this moment that the Chariot of Thespis arrives, truly a machina ex machina.
The conveyance in question is in reality a wagon belonging to a band of itinerant players who perform Commedia dell'Arte in the provinces, moving from town to town. It is (of course) a dark and stormy night and they ask the Baron for shelter, which he courteously albeit embarrassedly provides. All of the players are as engagingly picturesque as the roles they play, and several are attractive young women as well, practiced in seduction; but the Baron evinces a deep affinity for the chastely delicate graces of Isabelle, a young foundling for whom the players are a tenderly protective family. The troupe is on its way to Paris in search of fame, and thanks to Isabelle's charms the Baron is persuaded to join them and likewise seek his fortune in the capital. An irony of fate more or less forces him to become one of the actors, sharing the hardships and triumphs of his comrades and perfecting the role of the cowardly, blustering Capitaine Fracasse. The ensuing adventures blend farce and melodrama with actual tragedy and real pathos. There are duels and skirmishes, intrigues, dangers, mysteries, love affairs of every kind of intensity and success, and the perfect conclusion. For sheer escapism told vividly, elegantly, charmingly, and sincerely, this is a book to revel in. It is the kind of uncomplicatedly life-enhacing entertainment virtually impossible to find in these times of ours, and has forever been for me a 'comfort read.'
I will note that the French are particularly successful at re-creating the past in their fiction, and Gautier brings the Baroque to dashing, delightful life. Do yourself a feeling courtesy and read this, whether in the original or translation--as always, preferably the former. [NB: I observe that this site for some reason gives Henri as Gautier's first name, but the world of letters will always know him as Theophile.]