23 December 2021

WayPoint - Theophile Gautier’s “Clarimonde”

A reading of Clarimonde, an appropriately creepy story befitting the tradition of Winter Solstice ghost stories. This story in French is titled La Morte Amoureuse.

For Waywords Podcast subscribers, think of this as a moment of shifting. In contrast to the idea of captivity explored by Chopin in “The Story of An Hour,” Gautier turns his ideas about upon a very different power dynamic. How do these two viewpoints interact in terms of the protagonist’s motivation and their psychological understanding of what possesses them?

For Legacy subscribers, this Gautier narrative seems to parallel some of my musings in recent episodes about inspiration.

For fans of vampires, recognize how old the legends are! This story dates to 1836. Stoker’s Dracula, by contrast, was written in 1897.

The English translation for this work is by Lafcadio Hearn, c. 1882.

Here is the epitaph from the story in the original French:

Ici gît Clarimonde
Qui fut de son vivant
La plus belle du monde.

Finally, though the convention in Gautier’s time was to anonymize place names (i.e. “The village of S—“), for the reading, I have added place names suitably general which better leant themselves to the oral telling.



Complete Resources:  https://waywordsstudio.com/podcasts/waywords_podcast/waypoint-gautier-clarimonde/

Read the Story (pdf): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Dvk9S7fU01mcU7bddLS7I4rq-syq1L4H/view?usp=sharing 


*This story was not originally printed in Chapters or sections, but I have named and inserted these only for the convenience of listeners. 

00:00:00     Intro
00:00:30     Clarimonde - Framing
00:05:04     First Meeting; An Assignment
00:34:54     Second Meeting; A Death
00:53:38     Third Meeting; A Departure
01:07:35     A Double Life; Blood
01:17:24     A Final Meeting: Loss
01:25:15     Outro


The Waywords Podcast is the primary program of Waywords Studio (https://waywordsstudio.com). The podcast posts new material each week, with deep-dive examinations of literature around some common questions or themes and 1-3 smaller supplemental episodes in between the larger programs.

Legacy is a production of Waywords Studio (https://waywordsstudio.com). The podcast publishes two micro-episodes per week until the season story completes. This same feed will also host the short audio fiction program Scenes and Moments in alternative seasons.

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Original music by Randon Myles (https://randonmyles.com/)

Some incidental music by Scott Buckley.

Episode image: Edvard Munch’s woodcut of “Love and Pain” or “Vampyre II,” 1896.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It is open to be used and adapted for all not-for-profit uses with proper attribution.


Chisnell, Steve. “WayPoint: Theophile Gautier’s ‘Clarimonde.’’” Waywords Studio, 23 Dec. 2021, https://waywordsstudio.com/podcasts/waywords_podcast/waypoint-gautier-clarimonde/.

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