Remy de Gourmont Biography, French Poet and Novelist


Who was Remy de Gourmont? Information on French poet and novelist Remy de Gourmont biography, life story, poetry, works and poems.

Remy de Gourmont

Remy de Gourmont (Source:

Remy de Gourmont; (1858-1915), French critic, novelist, and poet, who was one of the founders of the Mercure de France and is perhaps best known as an articulator of the philosophy of symbolist aesthetics. He was born on April 4, 1858, at Bazoches-au-Houlme in Normandy. After studying at the University of Caen, he became a librarian at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 1883. He detested the job and was finally dismissed for publishing an article in 1891 attacking French chauvinism.

Meanwhile, Gourmont had made many literary acquaintances, among them Villiers de l’Isle-Adam and Iluysmans. He had helped found the Mercure (1890) and was devoting much of his time to writing. A disfiguring skin disease (lupus) made him a recluse in his Paris apartment, except for visits to the Mercure offices and to bookstalls. He died on Sept. 27, 1915.

Gourmont published several collections of poetry, among them Litanies de la rose (1892) and Hiéroglyphes (1894), and a number of novels, including Sixtine (1890), Les chevaux de Diomède (1897), and Une nuit au Luxembourg (1906). But it is his critical and philosophical prose that has best survived. His subtle and complex mind led him to write in an ironic, witty, iconoclastic way, stressing what might be called “creative doubt,” which he called “dissociation of ideas.” He wrote copiously. Many of his books are independent works; others are collections of articles he wrote for the Mercure. Among the most important are the Promenades and Epilogues (together 15 vols., 1903-1927), the two Livres des masques (1896, 1898), L’esthétique de la langue française (1899), Le problème du style (1902), and a study of sexuality in the animal world—Physique de l’amour: essai sur l’instinct sexuel ( 1904 ).

Remy de Gourmont literary personality

Remy de Gourmont was known for his rejection of the values of his time and for his fascination with spirituality, the occult, and the natural world. He was also a prominent figure in the Decadent movement, which celebrated beauty and sensory experience, but also criticized societal norms and conventions. De Gourmont’s literary works and ideas continue to influence modernist and avant-garde movements.


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