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Clarimonde By Theophile

Clarimonde By Theophile

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About the Book
Clarimonde ("La Morte Amoureuse") [1836]

The story opens with the elderly Romuald recounting a strange adventure during his youth. The day of his ordination many years ago, he saw a beautiful young woman in the church. He heard her voice promising to love him and to make him happier than he would be in Paradise, if he would just leave the church. However, he was in the middle of his vows, and before he knew it, he had finished the ceremony. As he left the church, a cold hand grasped his arm and he heard a woman say "what have you done!" When he turned around, she had disappeared. On his way back to the seminary, he was greeted by a page who gives him a card reading, "Clarimonde, Palace Concini."

He continued his studies, but he was plagued by the memory of Clarimonde and regretted taking his vows. Finally, he was notified of his new parish in the country. As he was leaving town with Sérapion, an older priest who mentored him, he looks back on the town, which was covered in shadow with the exception of a golden palace on a hill. He asked Sérapion about the palace, and Sérapion answered that it was the Palace Concini, where Clarimonde the courtesan lived. He told Roumauld that it was a place of great debauchery.

Romuald lived quietly in the country, pining over Clarimonde, for an indefinite period of time. One night, a man on horseback arrived asking the priest to come quickly and offer last rites to his mistress. Romuald went to a mysterious castle in the country where he saw Clarimonde dead. In his grief, he kissed her, and his kiss brought her back to life.

He woke up three days later at his home, and his maid told him that he had been brought back by the same horseman with which he left. After that, he had fallen into a fever and remained unconscious. Romuald believed that all that had passed with Clarimonde had been a dream; but a few days later, she appeared to him in his room. She looked dead, but beautiful, and she told him to prepare for a trip.

The second night, she returned, but she looked vibrant and alive. The two of them went to Venice and lived together. During the day, Romuald performed his duties as priest, and at night, he was Seignior Romuald of Venice. One night, he refused to take the sleeping draught that Clarimonde offered him each evening, and he realized that she was drinking his blood while he slept. However, Romuald admitted that he would have gladly given all his blood for her.

About the Author
Theophile Gautier, 1811-1872

French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, 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.

Tags: clarimonde, clarimonde gautier.

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