Théophile Gautier

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Radiant words, words of light, full of rhythm and music, that's poetry.

Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier (August 30 1811October 23 1872) was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, short-story writer, journalist and critic.

Sourced[edit]

  • Il n'y a de vraiment beau que ce qui ne peut servir à rien; tout ce qui est utile est laid.
    • There is nothing truly beautiful but that which can never be of any use whatsoever; everything useful is ugly.
    • Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835; Paris: Charpentier, 1866), Préface, p. 21; Burton Rascoe (trans.) Mademoiselle de Maupin, and One of Cleopatra's Nights (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1925) p. xxv.
  • Virginité, mysticisme, mélancolie, – trois mots inconnus, – trois maladies nouvelles apportées par le Christ.
    • Virginity, mysticism, melancholy, – three unknown words, – three new maladies brought in by Christ.
    • Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835; Paris: Charpentier, 1866), ch. 9, p. 198; Mademoiselle de Maupin; and, One of Cleopatra's Nights (New York: Random House, 1948) p. 136.
  • Ils sont si transparents qu'ils laissent voir votre âme.
    • Eyes so transparent that through them one sees the lucent soul.
    • "À Deux Beaux Yeux", line 12, in Poésies Complètes (Paris: Charpentier, 1845) p. 278; Maturin Murray Ballou (ed.) Notable Thoughts about Women (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1882) p. 398.
  • Le poëte est ainsi dans les Landes du monde.
    Lorsqu'il est sans blessure, il garde son trésor.
    Il faut qu'il ait au cœur une entaille profonde
    Pour épancher ses vers, divines larmes d'or!
    • Such in the Landes of our world is the poet's stance;
      When he receives no wound, his treasure he'll retain.
      With such deep cut mankind his heart must also lance,
      To make him spill his verse, his gold tears' gushing rain!
    • "Le Pin des Landes", line 13, in Poésies Complètes (Paris: Charpentier, 1845) p. 323; Miroslav John Hanak (ed.) Romantic Poetry on the European Continent (Washington: University Press of America, 1983) vol. 1, p. 415.
  • Naître, c'est seulement commencer à mourir.
    • To be born is to have commenced to die.
    • "L'Horloge", line 24, in Poésies Complètes (Paris: Charpentier, 1845) p. 324; Lewis Nkosi Mating Birds (Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1983) p. 46.
  • Oui, l'œuvre sort plus belle
    D'une forme au travail
    Rebelle,
    Vers, marbre, onyx, émail.
    • Yes, the work comes out more fair,
      From a form that rebels against
      Handling,
      Verse, marble, onyx, enamel.
    • "L'Art", line 1, in Émaux et Camées (1852; Genève: Librairie Droz, 1947) p. 130; Earl Jeffrey Richards (ed.) Christine de Pizan and Medieval French Lyric (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998) p. 32.
  • Tout passe. – L'art robuste
    Seul a l'éternité,
    Le buste
    Survit à la cité.
    Et la médaille austère
    Que trouve un laboureur
    Sous terre
    Révèle un empereur.
    • Everything passes.–
      Only robust art is eternal.
      The bust outlives the city.
      And the simple coin
      Unearthed by a peasant
      Reveals the image of an emperor.
    • All passes, art alone
      Enduring stays to us;
      The bust outlasts the throne, —
      The coin, Tiberius.
    • "L'Art", line 41, in Émaux et Camées (1852; Genève: Librairie Droz, 1947) pp. 131-2; Dean de la Motte and Jeannene M. Przyblyski (eds.) Making the News (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999) p. 144; Henry Austin Dobson "Ars Victrix", line 29, in The Complete Poetical Works of Austin Dobson (Whitefish, Montana: Kessenger, 2005) p. 142.
  • Le hasard, c'est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.
    • Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.
    • One of Gautier's contributions to his collaboration with Jules Sandeau, Émile de Girardin, and Joseph Méry, La croix de Berny (Paris: Librairie Nouvelle, 1855) p. 28; Suzy Platt (ed.) Respectfully Quoted (Washington: Library of Congress, 1989) p. 38
  • L'art pour l'art signifie, pour les adeptes, un travail dégagé de toute preoccupation autre que celle du beau en lui-même.
    • Art for Art's Sake means, for its adepts, the pursuit of pure beauty – without any other consideration.
    • L'art moderne (Paris: Michel Lévy Frères, 1856) p. 151; F. W. Ruckstull Great Works of Art and What Makes Them Great (New York: Putnam, 1925) p. 299
  • Je suis un homme pour qui le monde visible existe.
    • I am a man for whom the visible world exists.
    • Remark, May 1, 1857, reported in the Journal des Goncourts (Paris: Bibliothèque-Charpentier, 1888) vol. 1, p. 182; translation from Joanna Richardson Théophile Gautier: His Life & Times (London: Max Reinhardt, 1958) p. 14.
  • Demander à la poésie du sentimentalisme…ce n'est pas ça. Des mots rayonnants, des mots de lumière…avec un rythme et une musique, voilà ce que c'est, la poésie.
    • Fancy demanding feeling from poetry! That's not the main thing at all. Radiant words, words of light, full of rhythm and music, that's poetry.
    • Remark, June 22, 1863, reported in the Journal des Goncourts (Paris: Bibliothèque-Charpentier, 1888) vol. 2, p. 123, (ellipses in the original); Arnold Hauser (trans. Stanley Godman and Arnold Hauser) The Social History of Art (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951) vol. 2, p. 684.

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