King Candaules AND The Mummy’s Foot

By Théophile Gautier.

Two surreal and magical short pieces – perfect to break up some of the non-fiction I have read recently. Gautier is a more decadent and fantastical Balzac – and maybe not as much of a polymath. Having read Gautier years back I am tempted to read his travels in Egypt – he did write a fair bit – I saw a 22 volume set of his works online recently. So, worth some continued investigation. These were both excellent.

 

 

 

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Clarimonde and The Deserted House

gautierBy Theophile Gautier and ETA Hoffman respectively.

Clarimonde

And now for something completely different. I listened to this on a free audiobook and it really was well written (and read). I have read one of Gautier’s novels before – I think it was Mademoiselle de Maupin and really enjoyed it. Sometimes a bit of decadence and symbolist writing is just what you need on dark December days. This novel kept you guessing and you really couldn’t tell what was real and what was dream after a while. Was he a village priest with strange dreams of living in Venice with a vampire courtesan, or a decadent nobleman who had strange dreams of being a parish priest as he slept? Very enjoyable.

The Deserted House

This was in a similar ‘vein’:  supernatural and full of thwarted love, melancholy and madness. Again, an excellent read. Hoffman is not quite as lyrical as Gautier – more matter-of-fact. This was read on a kindle. The first story I have read on it and I did get lost in Hoffman’s world, but the experience wasn’t as satisfying as a physical book. Maybe the kindle just isn’t as tactile as a book. Still, this was a free download from a great site called manybooks.net which I have been visiting quite regularly looking for books I have been meaning to read. It isn’t a patch on the Tomcat Murr – there isn’t any strange humour. Definitely worth my time.

Two very good short pieces written in the first half of the 19th century and read in two different modern methods.

Soundtrack: Scott Walker – 30 Century Man.

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