Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Rosette’s house

Rosette’s house. Home of Monsieur d’Albert’s mistress, Rosette. Little is revealed about the location or contents of this house, save for the fact that Rosette’s bath is a large marble tub, and that an odor of lime trees drifts in from the garden. Readers are never told the name of the town in which it is situated.

Avenue of elms

Avenue of elms. First location significant to d’Albert’s affair with Rosette that is described. Significantly, it is only there that d’Albert imagines, for one brief moment, that he loves Rosette. The avenue’s elms are very tall, sifting the light of the setting Sun in such a way as to create strange and striking chromatic effects in the sky and the surrounding terrain.


Mansion. House selected for a love nest by Rosette, located twenty miles from d’Albert’s hometown. The mansion is elaborately described, in terms of its quaint surroundings—including the quasi-magical oak forest, in which Rosette and Théodore de Sérannes (who is really Mademoiselle Madelaine de Maupin) go hunting, its eccentrically ornamented architecture, and its internal decoration. There, again Théophile Gautier’s emphasis is on fanciful chromatic effects, and he makes symbolic use of flowers. The mansion’s surroundings are strongly contrasted with the remembered environment in which d’Albert grew up, which is described in terms redolent...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Lloyd, Rosemary. “Rereading Mademoiselle de Maupin.” Orbis Litterarum: International Review of Literary Studies 41, no. 1 (1986): 19-32. Provides a valuable overview of previous discussions, many of which are only available in French. Traces the many literary allusions in the text and places the novel within the larger tradition of explorations of human sexuality.

Richardson, Joanna. Théophile Gautier, His Life and Times. London: M. Reinhardt, 1958. The most comprehensive biography of Gautier in English, combining biographical detail with textual evaluation. Proposes the novel as an example of the art-for-art’s-sake principle outlined in the author’s preface.

Scott, David. Pictorialist Poetics: Poetry and the Visual Arts in Nineteenth-Century France. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Argues that the aesthetic theory and literary practice of the nineteenth century combined to produce a new conception of literature’s potential. Examines Gautier’s preoccupation with the visual arts, as both critic and artist, and its impact on his literary efforts.

Smith, Albert B. Ideal and Reality in the Fictional Narratives of Théophile Gautier. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1969. One of the only books in English devoted to Gautier’s prose. Smith offers a detailed analysis of Mademoiselle de Maupin, as well as a broad discussion of Gautier’s aesthetic philosophy and literary style.

Spenser, Michael C. The Art Criticism of Théophile Gautier. Geneva: Librarie Droz, 1969. Explores the concept of the microcosm in Gautier’s art criticism and fiction. Spenser considers the preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin to have been the inception of his cult of metaphysical and sensual beauty.