Karen Chung's Reviews > Clarimonde

Clarimonde by Théophile Gautier
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May 22, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

Clarimonde is a moral tale that describes the process of fighting and eventually, with some outside help, conquering one's inner demons. The story comes across as a bit pretentious, melodramatic, lacking in concrete detail, and above all, corny, but it still has entertainment value, and it is, thankfully, not too long. The story is a bold remix of (1) the Daoist story of Duke Zhou not being sure whether he was Duke Zhou dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming it was Duke Zhou, cited in Zhuang Zi; (2) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; and (3) Dracula. The first is a standard of the Daoist literary canon; the second represents, I think, some of R. L. Stevenson's best work; but Dracula and vampire stories hold absolutely no attraction for me whatsoever. So in the end, I found the whole premise and story a bit silly. But I tried to make the best of it by viewing it symbolically, and that saved it a bit. I read and listened to a bit of it in the original French, then listened to an appropriately dramatic Librivox reading of it by a Chinese woman with a not-totally-consistent but quite charming British accent, while following along in the Gutenberg text with the iBooks app on an iPad for part of it. Recommended if you're up for a bit of moral tale fantasy.
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10/19/2016 marked as: read

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