Théophile Gautier's Poetry as Coquetterie Postume

The poetry of Emaux et camées has often been dismissed as well-crafted but largely trivial and precious. Through an analysis of one of its poems, "Coquetterie posthume," I show that Gautier's poetics involves a lucid awareness of itself as "exquisite corpse" or as allegory. Gautier's poem simultaneously seeks the afterlife-immortality of beauty/art and reveals the illusoriness of this supplement/simulacrum. Rather than superficial or escapist, it is profoundly honest regarding the schizophrenia that Barthes for one finds at the heart of "le plaisir du texte": a writing that is seductively or coquettishly deadly. (CGS)
Schick, Constance Gosselin
Volume 1991-1992 Fall-Winter; 20(1-2): 74-84