Months ago ago I came across a very interesting book. I’m always on the hunt for the next great find and usually only pay 50 cents to one dollar per book, rarely more. But the title of this particular book was certainly an attention grabber, The Beautiful Vampire.
I carefully opened it and immediately read “La Morte Amorureuse” by Theophile Gautier beneath the title. I was instantly hooked and asked about the price. 5 dollars! Eeek. More than I wanted to pay. I tried to walk away but insanely curious, I couldn’t resist turning a few pages and came upon the the following:
“You ask me brother, if I have loved; yes. It is a strange and terrible story, and although I am sixty-six years old, I scarcely dare to stir the ashes of that memory.”
And “One single glance at a woman nearly cost me the loss of my soul....Yes I have loved as no one in the world has loved, with a mad furious passion, so violent that I wonder it did not
burst my heart. Ah! What nights! What nights!”
As you’ve probably already guessed, I’m now the proud owner of the tale of a priest that falls madly in love with a beautiful vampire named Clarimonde. My copy is from 1927 but a little research unearthed that the original was written 1836. Gautier apparently kept busy as a poet, novelist and literary critic.
He was a firm believer in “Art for art’s sake” and felt that aesthetic beauty was the sole porpose of creating artwork.
The priest describes her beauty:
“Oh! How beautiful she was! The greatest painters, searching for ideal beauty in heaven and bringing down to earth the divine portrait of the Madonna, do not approach this fabulous reality.”
And his love for Clarimonde:
“This love, born, had taken root imperishably; I did not even think of attempting to eradicate, I felt so strongly that it was impossible. This women had taken complete possession of me; one look had sufficed to work the change in me; she had breathed her will into me; my life was no more my own, but hers, drawing its breath from her.”
What eyes! With one flash they decided the fate of a man; ...rays like arrows darted from them straight to the heart.”
Would that someone would describe my eyes in a similar fashion. Or rave about my hands like so:
“She wore a dress of red velvet, and from the broad ermine-trimmed sleeves emerged patrician hands of infinite delicacy, with long rounded fingers so translucent that the light shone through them like those of Aurora.”