In an 1863 letter to Sainte-Beuve, Théophile Gautier (1811–72) claimed that his under-appreciated 1838 novel Fortunio contains his last expression of a “doctrine.” While scholarship has typically read this doctrine as an apology for the insular existence of the artist, the architecture of Fortunio’s Eldorado palace and the novel’s ironic narrator suggest that Gautier’s doctrine actually posits a rapprochement between the public and the artist. Gautier inscribes two popular bourgeois city spaces—the arcades and the Diorama—into Eldorado in order to suggest an analogical connection between the spectator of the “true” illusions found therein and the true artist in “le microcosme,” which is the theory of artistic creation that Gautier was concurrently developing. This inclusive gesture towards the public is also found in the talkative narrator who encourages the reader to witness and participate in the creation of the novel.


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pp. 218-234
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