The Mummy’s Foot by Theophile Gautier (1840)
Clarimonde by Theophile Gautier (1836)
Tuesday’s Tales of Terror July 29, 2014
I have two stories for you by Theophile Gautier:
one to amuse, the other to terrify.
When I first began reading The Mummy’s Foot by Theophile Gautier about the foot of a princess, I immediately settled in for an exotic fairy tale that would take me back to the amusements of my childhood readings. I was not disappointed.
Our narrator is a twenty-seven year old Frenchman who is looking for a paperweight in a curiosity shop. If you’ve ever browsed an antique store and fantasized about the objects and their histories, The Mummy’s Foot is a story that will fulfill all your imaginations. The mummified foot that our Frenchman is attracted to belonged to the 4000-year-old Princess Hermonthis, daughter of pharaoh. He purchases the charming foot, brings it home, and with great adoration sets it upon his desk.
Do items from the past carry their own energies? Possibly their own force upon the mind … or even upon a life? Come meet Princess Hermonthis. She will kindle her torch and bring you into the subterranean tombs of Cheops, Chephrenes, Psammetichus, Sesostris, Amenotaph—all the dark rulers of the pyramids. By Oms, by the dog of hell, this story will enchant and charm you!
Read The Mummy’s Foot at Gutenberg.net
Listen to the audio version at Librivox Recording, narrated by Dorothy Scarborough.
A Kiss Upon the Dead Lips
Theophile Gautier was a dramatist, painter, poet, journalist, and novelist. His storytelling carries a great deal of entertaining qualities. He is skilled in blurring the lines of dreaming and reality, setting his suspense within the theme of eternity. He can pitch realistic settings against supernatural phenomena quite smoothly. He is quoted, “What I write is not for little girls,” although many of his stories have a fairy tale tone.
One of his most famous short stories is La Morte Amoureuse, aka Clarimonde (1836) about a young and endearing priest, Romuald, who has the misfortune to fall in love with a mesmerizing woman of beauty on the same day he is ordained. Her name is Clarimonde. This is a bit like Sleeping Beauty but a far more twisted and dark romance. What evil lurks here?
Romuald opens the story: “Brother, you ask me if I have ever loved. Yes. My story is a strange and terrible one; and though I am sixty-six years of age, I scarcely dare even now to disturb the ashes of that memory… For more than three years I remained the victim of a most singular and diabolical illusion.”
Could a corpse be this ravishing?
You can read it here in English at Gutenberg.org under the title of Clarimonde
Listen to audio, Clarimonde by Libivox Recordings, Parts 1 and 2 narrated by Joy Chan:
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