Captain Fracasse

Captain Fracasse

by Theophile Gautier


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Captain Fracasse By Théophile Gautier

Upon the southern slope of one of those barren hills that rise abruptly here and there in the desolate expanse of the Landes, in South-western France, stood, in the reign of Louis XIII, a gentleman's residence, such as abound in Gascony, and which the country people dignify by the name of chateau. Two tall towers, with extinguisher tops, mounted guard at the angles of the mansion, and gave it rather a feudal air. The deep grooves upon its facade betrayed the former existence of a draw-bridge, rendered unnecessary now by the filling up of the moat, while the towers were draped for more than half their height with a most luxuriant growth of ivy, whose deep, rich green contrasted happily with the ancient gray walls. A traveller, seeing from afar the steep pointed roof and lofty towers standing out against the sky, above the furze and heather that crowned the hill-top, would have pronounced it a rather imposing chateau-the residence probably of some provincial magnate; but as he drew near would have quickly found reason to change his opinion...

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780368264665
Publisher: Blurb
Publication date: 10/02/2019
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.35(d)

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Captain Fracasse 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
GarySeverance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Captain Fracasse, originally published in 1863, is a romantic tale of a proud descendent of French nobility whose estate has decayed, due largely it appears to his own lack of initiative. He was never trained to do anything practical except to meet the expectations of an idle class that relied on serfs to do the actual work on the estate. He did become an excellent swordsman as the result of the long tutelage of the estate¿s steward. As fate would have it, a traveling troupe of comic actors is forced to spend a stormy night off the beaten path in Baron de Sigognac¿s castle. The Baron falls in love at first sight with Isabelle, the troupe¿s ingénue actress. He decides to leave his chateau in the care of his faithful old steward and to travel with the troupe on their journey to Paris. His idea is to have his family¿s wealth restored by chance meetings with the monarchy during which he can ask for relief from his undeserved impoverishment. On the road, the Baron takes the role of Captain Fracasse in one of the troupe¿s productions and, against his proud nature, acts the part of a bumbling military officer. He learns humility through the role and gains the power of love in his relationship with the ingénue. Baron de Sigognac¿s initiative, insight, swordsmanship, and emotional power of love pay off in Paris when he meets and provides martial aid to influential people. His family fortune changes and Isabelle gives him a life-renewing gift. His steward, dog, cat, and pony rejoice at the estate.Theophile Gautier was a member of an artist group that included Alexandre Dumas and Victor Hugo, and was a staunch proponent of Romanticism in 19th Century French literature. Like some of the work of his contemporaries, Gautier¿s style is lyrical, his structure is linear, and he carefully develops romantic themes in Captain Fracasse. An interesting parallel with Balzac¿s ¿Human Comedy¿ is that happiness is described in terms of the number of Francs income per year for members of the nobility and the upper classes. Captain Fracasse is an entertaining story of redemption with life interesting sketches of secondary characters. The local color of France in the first half of the 17th Century sets the stage for the tale. The straight forward, romantic novel is very different from Gautier¿s short stories that focus on detailed psychological evaluations of the key players (see my review of My Fantoms).