Remy De Gourmont
French Symbolist poet, novelist, and critic Remy de Gourmont was born into an aristocratic Norman family in the Chateau de la Motte. He was educated at the University of Caen, where he studied law. He worked as a librarian for a decade at the Bibliothèque Nationale, until he was fired after publishing a controversial essay in the Mercure de France, a journal he cofounded. De Gourmont also served as an editor for the Symbolist art magazine L’Ymagier.
His engagement with Symbolism-influenced poets Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, and de Gourmont was included in Amy Lowell’s anthology Six French Poets: Studies in Contemporary Literature (1915). His critical writing on the French Symbolist movement provides a helpful guide to the movement’s aesthetics.
De Gourmont published several dozen books during his lifetime, but only a few have been translated into English. These include The Book of Masks (1921, trans. Jack Lewis), which combines his writings on Symbolist texts with excerpts from the cited texts; the novel A Virgin Heart (1907, trans. Aldous Huxley, 1925); and a collection of early short stories, The Angels of Perversity (1992, collected and trans. Francis Amery). Remy de Gourmont: Selections from All His Works (1928, reissued in 1944, trans. Richard Aldington) and Selected Writings (1966, trans. And ed. Glenn S. Burne) offer introductions to his work.
A skin condition that emerged in his 20s kept de Gourmont largely housebound for the second half of his life, during which time he wrote and published prolifically. He died of a stroke at the age of 57.