Remy de Gourmont  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Remy de Gourmont (April 4, 1858, Bazoches-au-Houlme, Orne - September 27, 1915) was a French Symbolist poet, novelist, and influential critic. He was widely read in his era, and an important influence on Blaise Cendrars. (The spelling Rémy de Gourmont is incorrect, albeit common and used by Ezra Pound in translations of his work.)

Contents

Life

De Gourmont came from a publishing family from Cotentin. He was the son of count Auguste-Marie de Gourmont and his countess, born Mathilde de Montfort. In 1866 he moved to a manor close to Villedieu near La Manche. He studied law at Caen, and was awarded a bachelor's degree in law in 1879; upon his graduation he moved to Paris.

In 1881, de Gourmont was employed by the Bibliothèque Nationale. He began to write for general circulation periodicals such as Le Monde and Le Contemporain. He took an interest in ancient literature, following the footsteps of Gustave Kahn. During this period, he also met Berthe Courrière, model and heir of the sculptor Auguste Clésinger, which whom he struck a lifelong attachment. The two lived together for the rest of their lives.

De Gourmont also began a literary alliance with Joris-Karl Huysmans, to whom he dedicated his prose work le Latin mystique ("Mystical Latin"). In 1889 de Gourmont became one of the founders of the Mercure de France. Between 1893 and 1894 he was the co-editor, along with Alfred Jarry, of L'Ymagier, a magazine dedicated to symbolist wood carvings. In 1891 he published a political polemic called Le Joujou Patriotisme ("Patriotism - a toy") which argued that France and Germany shared an aesthetic culture and urged a rapprochement between the two countries, contrary to the wishes of nationalists in the French government. The fallout from this political essay led to his losing his job at the Bibliothèque Nationale, in despite of Octave Mirbeau's chronicles.

During this same period, de Gourmont was stricken with the disease lupus vulgaris. Disfigured by this illness, he largely retired from public view, appearing only at the offices of the Mercure de France. In 1910, de Gourmont met Natalie Clifford Barney, to whom he dedicated his Lettres à l'Amazone ("Letters to the Amazon").

However, de Gourmont's health continued to decline during this period, and he began to suffer from locomotor ataxia and be increasingly unable to walk. He was deeply depressed by the outbreak of World War I as well, and died of cerebral congestion in 1915. Berthe Courrière was his sole heir; she inherited a substantial body of unpublished work from him, which she sent to his brother Jean de Gourmont; she died within a year of his death. De Gourmont is buried in Père-Lachaise.

Works

His poetic works include Litanies de la rose (1892), Les Saintes du paradis (1898), and Divertissements (1912). His poems plunge from perhaps ironic piety to equally ironic blasphemy; they reflect, more than anything else, his interest in mediæval Latin literature, and his works led to a fad for late Latin literature among authors like Joris-Karl Huysmans. He was also a literary critic of great importance, and was admired by T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound in that capacity.

Works

Poetry

  • Litanies de la Rose (1892).
  • Fleurs de Jadis (1893).
  • Hiéroglyphes (1894).
  • Les Saintes du Paradis (1899).
  • Oraisons Mauvaises (1900).
  • Simone (1901).
  • Divertissements (1912).
  • Poésies Inédites (1921).
  • Rimes Retrouvées (1979).
  • L'Odeur des Jacynthes (1991).

Fiction

  • Merlette (novel, 1886).
  • Sixtine (novel, 1890).
  • Le Fantôme (1893).
  • Le Château Singulier (1894).
  • Proses Moroses (short stories, 1894).
  • Histoire Tragique de la Princesse Phénissa (1894).
  • Histoires Magiques (1884).
  • Le Pèlerin du Silence (1896).
  • Phocas (1895).
  • Les Chevaux de Diomède (novel, 1897).
  • D'un Pays Lointain. Miracles. Visages de Femmes (1898).
  • Le Songe d'une Femme (novel, 1899).
  • Une Nuit au Luxembourg (1906).
  • Un Cœur Virginal (1907).
  • Couleurs, Contes Nouveaux Suivi de Choses Anciennes (1908).
  • Lettres d'un Satyre (1913).
  • Lettres à l'Amazone (1914).
  • Monsieur Croquant (1918).
  • La Patience de Grisélidis (1920).
  • Lettres à Sixtine (1921).
  • Le Vase Magique (1923).
  • Fin de Promenade et Trois Autres Contes (short stories, 1925).
  • Le Désarroi (novel, 2006).

Theater

  • Lilith (1892).
  • Théodat (1893).
  • Le Vieux Roi (1897).
  • L'Ombre d'une Femme (1923).

Non-fiction

  • Un Volcan en Éruption (1882).
  • Une Ville Ressuscitée (1883).
  • Bertrand Du Guesclin (1883).
  • Tempêtes et Naufrages (1883).
  • Les Derniers Jours de Pompéi (1884).
  • En Ballon (1884).
  • Les Français au Canada et en Acadie (1888).
  • Chez les Lapons, Mœurs, Coutumes et Légendes de la Laponie Norvégienne (1890).
  • Le Joujou Patriotisme (1891).
  • Le Latin Mystique. Les Poètes de l'Antiphonaire et la Symbolique au Moyen Âge (with a preface by J. K. Huysmans, 1892).
  • L'Idéalisme (1893).
  • L'Ymagier (with Alfred Jarry, 1896).
  • La Poésie Populaire (1896).
  • Le Livre des Masques (1896).
  • Almanach de "L'Ymagier", Zodiacal, Astrologique, Littéraire, Artistique, Magique, Cabalistique et Prophétique (1897).
  • Le Deuxième Livre des Masques (1898).
  • Esthétique de la Langue Française (1899).
  • La Culture des Idées (1900).
  • Preface to Les Petites Revues (1900).
  • Le Chemin de Velours (1902).
  • Le Problème du Style (1902).
  • Épilogues: Réflexions sur la Vie, 1895-1898 (1903).
  • Physique de l'Amour. Essai sur l'Instinct Sexuel (1903).
  • Promenades Littéraires (1904).
  • Judith Gautier (1904).
  • Promenades Philosophiques (1905).
  • Dante, Béatrice et la Poésie Amoureuse. Essai sur l'Idéal Féminin en Italie à la Fin du XIIIe Siècle (1908).
  • Le Chat de Misère. Idées et Images (1912).
  • La Petite Ville (1913).
  • Des pas sur le Sable (1914).
  • La Belgique Littéraire (1915).
  • Pendant l'Orage, Bois d'André Rouveyre (1915).
  • Dans la Tourmente (Avril-juillet 1915) (with a preface by Template:Interlanguage link multi, 1916).
  • Pendant la Guerre. Lettres pour l'Argentine (with a preface by Jean de Gourmont, 1917).
  • Les Idées du Jour (1918).
    • Vol. I: (Octobre 1914-avril 1915).
    • Vol. II: (Mai 1915-septembre 1915).
  • Trois Légendes du Moyen Âge (1919).
  • Pensées Inédites (with a Preface by Guillaume Apollinaire, 1920).
  • Le Livret de "L'Ymagier" (1921).
  • Petits Crayons (1921).
  • Le Puits de la Vérité (1922).
  • Dernières Pensées Inédites (1924).
  • Dissociations (1925).
  • Nouvelles Dissociations (1925).
  • La Fin de l'Art (1925).
  • Les Femmes et le Langage (1925).
  • Deux Poètes de la Nature: Bryant et Emerson (1925).
  • Le Joujou et Trois Autres Essais (1926).
  • Lettres Intimes à l’Amazone (1926).
  • Promenades Littéraires (1929).

In English translation

Quotation

Que tes mains soient bénies, car elles sont impures!
Elles ont des péchés cachés à toutes les jointures;
Leur peau blanche s'est trempée dans l'odeur âpre des caresses
Secrètes, parmi l'ombre blanche où rampent les caresses,
Et l'opale prisonnière qui se meurt à ton doigt,
C'est le dernier soupir de Jésus sur la croix.
---Oraisons mauvaises




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Remy de Gourmont" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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