Théophile Gautier (goh-tyay) was born at Tarbes in the south of France on August 30, 1811, but shortly afterward moved with his family to Paris, where he received his education. He avidly studied art and the literature of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Coming early under the influence of the Romantics, Gautier formed a group of young writers who denounced the classicists and defended Victor Hugo and other writers, some of whom were identified with the Romantic movement. Gautier’s second poetic work, Albertus: Soul and Sin, impressed the critics with its felicitous language and excellent description. Switching to a new medium, he then brought out a novel, the popular Mademoiselle de Maupin: A Romance of Love and Passion.
From 1836 until his old age, in order to augment his income, Gautier wrote theater and art criticism for Paris newspapers. He was a good-tempered critic, generally pointing out the good points of a work rather than its faults; he was occasionally criticized for his lack of a true critical eye. Gautier was able to travel from time to time, and in works such as Wanderings in Spain, Travels in Italy, Constantinople of To-Day, and A Winter in Russia the writer caught the individual color and atmosphere of these places. During this period he also continued writing fiction, such as the successful Romance of the Mummy and Captain Fracasse. The latter...
(The entire section is 458 words.)