Images de page


It is with great pleasure that I express to Professor Eunice Morgan Schenck, who first aroused my interest in Théophile Gautier as a transition-figure, my gratitude for her unfailing aid and sympathetic counsel during the whole preparation of this dissertation.

To Professor Delacroix and Professor Basch of the University of Paris, and especially to Professor James Henry Leuba of Bryn Mawr College, I owe sincere thanks for the information given to me in regard to the psychology of æsthetics. My gratitude is also due to Professor Baldensperger and Professor Hazard of the University of Paris, to M. Lucien Foulet, and to M. Lucien Herr, Bibliothécaire de l'École normale supérieure, for the many suggestions which they were good enough to make during the course of my investigation, for their counsel, and for their encouragement. I have also to thank Professor Samuel Claggett Chew of Bryn Mawr College for his kindness in reading and commenting upon certain portions of the manuscript of this dissertation.

I wish to express to M. René Jasinski my great appreciation of his courtesy and good-will in communicating to me various bibliographical documents in regard to Théophile Gautier, and in sharing with me some of the results of his long study of the author's youth.

It is my duty and my especial pleasure to acknowledge here the courtesy of the Institut de France in granting me the privilege of access to the Collection Lovenjoul at Chantilly. Without the documents contained in the Collection, a part of this study would have been impossible. To the Institut and particularly to its conservator, M. Marcel Bouteron, for his constant kindness and aid, my deep gratitude is due.


The history of romanticism in France shows a new development soon after 1830. The lyrical writings of the early leaders cede gradually to the manifestations of a new literary group, and the creation of form replaces emotional expression as the objective of the artist. This school of writing depends, for its success, on the skill rather than on the personality of the author; sensations and emotions are interesting to it only when they have been transformed by the power of words, through an impersonal and highly stylistic rendering, into Beauty. In the determination of this trend toward art for art's sake, Théophile Gautier was a notable figure. His theory helped innumerable artists to an understanding of the end which they sought; his practice was considered by his disciples the perfection of true art. His development, from the turbulent days of Hernani to the years of impassive feuilletons, when his representations of visual beauty were regarded with admiration and envy, coïncides with the development of the new literary movement. In 1840, Gautier still presented the typical qualities of his early writing, but he possessed already, in germ or well-developed, the traits which were to set him apart in 1870. This artist, although apparently of the romantic school before 1835 and certainly of the Parnassians years later, has a number of constant qualities, and his creative imagination is throughout of a distinctive character. Certainly he is not easily confused with any other writer of his age. Just as surely, his individuality is of importance for the comprehension of the literary group which surrounded him and in which he was an outstanding figure as leader and as critic.

Many characteristics of this individuality have been pointed out, both during the life-time of the author and since his death. Gautier himself considered his imagination that of a poet rather than that of a prose-writer, while, as its distinctive trait, he

pointed out that he was more plastic than literary. Some of his critics have agreed with him in these matters, others have taken exception to his judgment. By many his verbal facility has been set down as his particular talent; to another group his attempt at transpositions, from sensory impressions to varying verbal forms, has seemed his most individual quality. No one critic, perhaps, has considered the great mass of testimony,―autobiographical and biographical material, his finished and unfinished work (published version or manuscript), contemporary and later interpretations of his life and of his production,-in an attempt to determine the particular creative imagination of this transitionfigure. It is a complex task. Factors of psychological and of literary interest both come into play. There is to be considered the author's ideal and its accomplishment, his theory and his practice, both intrinsically and in their interaction. His particular mental constitution must be distinguished and defined. Only then can one understand the full bearing of his education-in the atelier and the literary cénacle, from his reading and from his friends and it is this education which, in its broad sense, is of interest for the movement in literature marked by the development from the Romanticists of 1830 to the Parnassians, the Realists, and the Symbolists.

The present study is an attempt to begin such an investigation of Théophile Gautier's creative imagination. It is based upon a variety of sources which offer information as to the author's chief characteristics. These sources have been considered from the point of view of the psychology of the artist as shown therein, rather than from that of strictly literary or biographical revelation. Interpretation of the documents has been necessary: it is the duty of the investigator to find some scale of relative values to be put on documentary sources, and his also is the task of establishing some psychological criteria by which the evidence may be sifted and conclusions reached with regard to the type of mind in question. The material offered for the study of Gautier's creative imagination is varied in character. There are first of all, and of primary importance, the author's own writings. Here,

in his original and critical work-published version or versions, manuscript corrections and variants-is the most direct evidence of motive and method, of the mind in process, and this body of documents forms a necessary and constant check for all other sources of information. One of these, again, is a direct witness : the non-literary writing of Gautier, for in his short autobiographical sketches and in his correspondence, as well as in the records of his conversations which his contemporaries have inscribed in their diaries or memoirs, valuable facts appear. The more personal judgments of his friends or disciples are also to be considered, and these biographical notes or interpretations of facts must, in turn, be confronted with the discoveries of later critics and with their deductions from the whole body of evidence available after the death of the author, and after the clarification of the intervening years. From all these sources of information, it seems possible that some conclusions may be reached in regard to the relation between the author's theory and his actual practice, in regard to his habits of mind in literary composition.

A few initial definitions are needed in such a study, for the phraseology of psychological discussion is not everywhere the same, and even in the history of literature there appear certain ambiguous terms of which the present employment must be made clear. Thus the word sentiment, so general in its application in France, is restricted here-in accordance with British and American usage to apply to certain emotional tendencies organized about an object. As McDougall defines it in his Outline of Psychology, the sentiment "involves an individual tendency to experience certain emotions and desires in relation to some particular object. It is an enduring conative attitude toward an object set up by the experience of the individual" (1).1 The sentiments may be simple-formed "through the repeated evocation of some one instinctive response by some one object" (the sentiment of fear of the big bully in the small boy); they may, on the other hand, be most complex, as in the sentiment of love for truth or of love for beauty, with its many ramifications. In either

1 Citations are found at the end of each section.

« PrécédentContinuer »