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Mademoiselle de Maupin

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,028 ratings  ·  82 reviews
A woman uses her incredible beauty to captivate both d'Albert, a young poet, and disguised as a man, his mistress, Rosette.

In this shocking tale of sexual deception, Gautier draws readers into the bedrooms and boudoirs of a French château in a compelling exploration of desire and sexual intrigue, and gives voice to a longing which is larger in scope, namely, the wish for
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 363 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 1835)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Glenn Russell
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Mademoiselle de Maupin is a symphony of adjectives, in which the thematic material alternately suggests the most exquisite pleasures of the senses. It is an ineffably beautiful tableau, heady, intoxicating, Dionysiac, conceived in ecstasy. It is, indeed a “golden book” as close an approximation to painting in the realm of pure aesthetics as anything in words may be. It is a celebration of beauty and its mood is always that of delight. So rare is this the accomplishment of the novelist and so far
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french-lit, classics
"How does Michelangelo manage to cut out slices of marble as if he were a child carving a chestnut? What steel went into the making of those unbending chisels? And what sturdy hips have borne all the prolific artists and craftsmen who find no matter resistant, but make their dreams flow freely out into the fullness of colour and bronze?"- Mademoiselle de Maupin

I don't think this book is as shocking as the synopsis make out, in fact if you do read the synopsis you will know exactly what the stor
MJ Nicholls
More people should know about this pioneering feminist lovestruck poetical drivelling masterpiece. Your plot antics are bare: a poet looking for his perfect Venus encounters hurdles in his search, finding no luck in the pink-cheeked Rosette whom he diddles for five months out of kindness. When he claps eyes on the girlish man Theodore (who happens to be a woman, but ssshhh) he finds his Venus par excellence and goes stark raving mad like all melodramatic romantic poets who want to mainline beaut ...more
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sex is everywhere, except in sexuality.( R. Barthes) .Eroticism seduces sex into a passionate euphoria ; the games of seduction upstages the terminating biological process. Sex is limited; seduction is limitless performing aesthetic gestural plays of sensual rituals challenging moralistic foundations. Seduction is always more singular and sublime than sex, and it commands the higher price (Baudrillard) . Liberation of passion from its didactic shackles, love being embraced with a poetic mi ...more
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
There’s so much going on in this novel, one could easily write a doctoral dissertation on the myriad issues presented. But this isn’t the appropriate forum for an in-depth academic exploration of misogyny, male chauvinism, objectification, love, the worship of beauty, transgressive sexuality and gender norms. I took a class in college called “Intro to Transgressive Literature,” and wonder why we didn’t read this. I honestly don’t remember what we did read... we watched Boys Don’t Cry, which is a ...more
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
First things first: before every show we now have health and safety housekeeping : fire exits to the, OK. But why, apropos of nothing, is Mademoiselle de Maupin, on ‘her’ own, £10 on Kindle, free if in French and 80 p for 20 of Gautier’s works which includes said piece in English? I don’t know whether to write a review of the book or the twisted economics that drive the marketplace...not to mention I am positive there are at least 10 EU laws being broken right here right now.

Well, grum
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
This book is my first read of Gautier and it happens to be a beautiful meld of letters and essays interspersed with dialogs between the characters. Gautier has a penchant for detail and romanticism. The read is interesting in the beginning but as one progresses, Gautier in the garb of his protagonist waxes eloquently on exterior beauty of all things especially women.
The story takes up more depth once a little more than half the novel has been read and holds its spell till the very end, the endin
Gabrielle Dubois
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 19th-century
There's no reason why I should hide it: I'm in love with Théophile Gautier. Nevermind what you think. For me, he's the greatest poet and author of the world!
I read, in French, Mademoiselle de Maupin years ago, I'll reread it as soon as possible. Why should you read it? because here's what Théophile said in his preface:
"There’s nothing in the world that goes faster than a virginity that runs away, and that an illusion that flies away. After all, there is perhaps no big trouble, and the science of
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Initially I was surprised at how easy this was to read but I’m afraid eventually, I found my lids grow heavy and neck unable to support my head. Or is that 'head grew heavy and my sight grew dim' ensuring I had to stop for the night...?

A teenage (accurate in outlook - or more specifically mentality - if not in years) obsession with getting laid.

Well written it is, ahead of its time it maybe, but interesting it was not.
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I think I went into Mademoiselle de Maupin with ridiculously high expectations, and that can only lead to at least a little disappointment. This book wasn't fully what I expected, but it was an entertaining read overall and incredibly progressive for the time it was written (1835).

The novel is written in an epistolary format, and switches between three perspectives - the first is D'Albert, a man writing to his friend and feeling increasingly frustrated about his difficulty in finding a mistress
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel is suffused with a refined naughtiness, which was accentuated by the fact I should have been writing a dry literature review this afternoon. Instead, I read the second, more salacious, half of 'Mademoiselle de Maupin'. This French capital-R Romantic novel is a wonderful comedy-drama of gender and sexuality, largely set in a country château in summer. It is mostly epistolary, making me wonder what the correspondents thought of the extravagant and shocking letters they received. I suppo ...more
Apr 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, thebook
Melodramatic, fanciful, fervent, excessive.

One of the best damn books I ever read.

"The great day having come, twenty-four criers on horseback, wearing the publisher's livery with his address on breast and back, bearing in their hands banners on both sides of which would be embroidered the title of the novel, and each proceeded by a tambourine and by kettledrums, should go through the streets of the city and, stopping in squares and at the crossings of streets, they should proclaim in a loud and
J.W.D. Nicolello
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
'I do not care much for teaching little simpletons to spell out the alphabet of love. I am neither old enough nor depraved enough for that; besides, I should succeed badly at it, for I never could show anybody anything, even what I knew best myself. I prefer women who read fluently, we arrive at the end of the chapter; and in everything, but especially in love, the end is what we have to consider. In this respect, I am rather like those people who begin a novel at the wrong end, read the catastr ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Mademoiselle de Maupin is a novel written by Théophile Gautier and published in two volumes, the first volume was published in November 1835 and the second in January 1836. Here is some of what I know about Gautier:

"Gautier began writing poetry as early as 1826, but the majority of his life was spent as a contributor to various journals, mainly La Presse, which also gave him the opportunity for foreign travel and for meeting many influential contacts in high society and in the world of the arts.
Michael Zendejas
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a masterpiece. I couldn't put it down. The plot development is legendary, and as the novel progressed I found it harder and harder to put it down! It chronicles the tale of a young man who is finding it hard to meet the love of his dreams, so to cure his ennui, he begins a liaison with Rosette. But one day, Rosette has a guest, Theodore, with whom the protagonist of the novel immediately falls in love with. However, Theodore is harboring a secret that'll make for the most interestin ...more
Over the summer I haven't been reading many books that I'm deeply in love with, which is a shame because I love reading and not feeling hyped about my books on the go is such a pity. So I put down the others and picked up this one again. I'd gotten over half-way through it at two different airports at two very different times of the year. Thesis-writing and travel interrupted this book quite unfairly, despite the fact I'd loved reading it whenever it was in my hands.

I should have read it much ea
I love this novel, even if I must admit that it is not a very good one. It is part epistolary, and part narrative, but the greater part of it is taken up by the voice of the self-pitying, antisocial, misogynistic misandrist who is the chevalier d'Albert; while his ideas on women and the world may be exasperatingly cynical, as a poet not entirely unlike the figure of Baudelaire he expresses interesting ideas on human nature and art. Ideas, rather than a plot or interesting characters, are what ma ...more
Michael Campbell
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this novel due to a curiosity of the historical figure whom the novel is named after. I'm not sure I would have read it, had I known more about it.

It's really not my type of novel. The prose are overtly poetic, and that's just not generally my cup of tea. However, this novel impressed me.

I was sucked in from the beginning with the Preface which had lots of insightful observations, primarily into the relationship of the artist and the critic and the worth of art and beauty.

Next, I was f
Nina Schmidt
MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN is one of my absolute favorite books. I adore Gautiers writing style- it is so enchnanting. Sometimes the Beauty of his words gave me the Feeling of reading a Poem. Gautier was a magician of words- even Hesse appreciateed Gautier. He thought his novels were virtuoso extravaganza- truly enchanting. What is there to add? Exept a recommendation to read this treasure of prose.
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, french
This book is about love, beauty and passion. It is beautifully written in poetic prose from the perspectives of d'Albert, Théodore and the writer himself in the form of letters.
Mar 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Theodore (aka, Mademoiselle de Maupin) is one of the most refreshingly unsentimental yet elusive characters in literature (based on the real life Mademoiselle, who was a swashbuckling opera singer! well, cor blimey gov'nor, they don't make them like they used to...) but we do have to put up with much existential moaning from D'Albert for the better part of the book. That being said, the novel is a very insightful essay on gender. I'd have given it 5 stars if it focused on Theodore and not on D'A ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
My second Gautier book and a second triumph. Gautier has a very verbose style and never uses one metaphor when 8 will do, however his writing is so lyrical and poetic that it rarely seems too long.
They say people today have a warped view of the opposite sex due to film, porn, celebrity magazines etc. but evidently this is not so modern a problem, as our male 19th century hero is the same and all he had to work with was poetry and oil paintings, he despairs of ever finding a woman who meets his f
Dec 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel, lgbt
"I have very little of the woman, except her breast,a few rounder lines, and more delicate hands; the skirt is on my hips, and not in my disposition. It often happens that the sex of the soul does not at all correspond with that of the body [...] if I had not taken this resolution -mad in appearence, but in reality very wise- and renounced the garnaments of a sex which is mine only materially and accidentally I should have been very unhappy."
It was the 19th century when these words were written
Rachel Pollock
Sep 20, 2015 rated it liked it
What a deeply weird novel. Full of some pretty progressive and explicit themes of sexuality and gender, particularly for a book written in the 1830s. Gautier gets really verbose and digressive throughout though, and while i found the translator's introductory notes to be interesting and helpful in terms of her thoughts on his experimental form/structure/style, i also found long stretches of it boring as hell, which is saying a lot for a book in which everybody has a bunch of sex and over half th ...more
John Purcell
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those stifled by the inadequacies of iLife
This book is as fresh and as youthful as the day it was published. It still has the power to initiate discussion. It will alter the way you look at your life.
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great and tragically underread book. I read it in high school, and found it an easy and fascinating read. Highly recommended.
Celia T
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt
only gets sapphic at the very end, and that subtly, but it's worth it
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: naughty-classic
This book answers the question “Man, woman, virgin, gay: what do they all desire?”

This is a French novel from 1835 by the Gautier (who is famous in part for the ballet Giselle in 1841) split in 2 volumes a year apart. The story is loosely based on the French Opera singer Madelaine de Maupin (who liked to dress as a man in 1800s). This work is famous for the conclusion of the first volume where the young man aged 22 d’Albert effectively ‘comes out’ in heart felt terms as having fallen in love wit
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me a couple weeks to read this and I think I would have liked it better had i read it quicker. The book was almost two stories, one the rather unfortunate male desperate to have a mistress and then tiring of the mistress when he did get her. The other about a woman dressing as a man and rejecting her own gender, falling in love with women and disdaining interest in men. But her great problem was that as a woman she could not physically love other women..... er... um... Now either the wri ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cross-dressing shenanigans, a queer love affair, someone who leaves her old life behind to live a life of adventure, another who is in love with a person who does not love her back and the third who is fixated on finding his ideal beauty, these make up Mademoiselle de Maupin which is a delightful story told through letters with a theatre digression and feelings on architecture thrown in for good measure. A book which was pretty advanced for its time in terms of the views it was talking about and ...more
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Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and literary critic. In the 1830 Revolution, he chose to stay with friends in the Doyenné district of Paris, living a rather pleasant bohemian life. He began writing poetry as early as 1826 but the majority of his life was spent as a contributor to various journals, mainly for La Presse, which also gave ...more

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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
24 likes · 38 comments
“To be beautiful, handsome, means that you possess a power which makes all smile upon and welcome you; that everybody is impressed in your favor and inclined to be of your opinion; that you have only to pass through a street or to show yourself at a balcony to make friends and to win mistresses from among those who look upon you. What a splendid, what a magnificent gift is that which spares you the need to be amiable in order to be loved, which relieves you of the need of being clever and ready to serve, which you must be if ugly, and enables you to dispense with the innumerable moral qualities which you must possess in order to make up for the lack of personal beauty.” 36 likes
“What well-bred woman would refuse her heart to a man who had just saved her life? Not one; and gratitude is a short cut which speedily leads to love.” 24 likes
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