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Heredia / July 2, 2016

Of all of the contemporary poets of France which reported noble birth—and numerous did therefore, by placing de before their particular last title as a literary and personal affectation—only two indisputably had that right: Villiers de L’isle-Adam and Robert de Montesquiou. And even though Villiers was born to a household of paupers who had games but no land, Robert would be to enjoy these types of immense wealth that his lifestyle became the things of legend. He had been initial and last example in French literature of a fresh archetype: the playboy poet. Just Lord Byron consumes an equivalent invest terms of lineage and literature, but there the analogy abruptly concludes: the 2 males usually share no similarities. Rather, it is Oscar Wilde, along with his fastidious and ironic wit, that Montesquiou most resembles.

The Count Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac came to be, the last of four young ones, regarding the 7th of March in 1855. The lineage of his family members managed to make it probably the earliest and most illustrious in France—traced back into enough time of Merovingians, through the dukes of Aquitaine. D’Artagnan, the 4th Musketeer, had been an ancestor. The poet’s great-grandmother was the governess of Napoleon’s son; together with poet had been dressed in the diapers associated with King of Rome as an infant.

When Montesquiou was born he was invest the fingers of a wet-nurse, underneath the immediate care and attention of their grandmother—his mother being also poor, apparently, to care for him. His father, at the same time, was out of the country. This seemingly temporary arrangement swiftly became permanent, as Robert ended up being shuttled from chateau to chateau—the precocious toy of his grandmothers, which journeyed with an army of servants in attendance. Maybe consequently, he was never close to his household and his later notoriety was not endearing in their mind. One could only imagine what Montesquiou’s family members believed as he said of them:

Our ancestors having fatigued the nature associated with the family, my father inherited just a feeling of grandeur. For my buddy there was absolutely nothing; but he'd the courtesy to fade away. In terms of me personally, i'll possess fame of increasing the ducal bonnet of Fezensacs the laurel top associated with poet.

Though he was introduced into the influential Robert Haas earlier in the day, Montesquiou’s true initiation in to the literary globe came in 1875, when he ended up being welcomed to a fancy-dress ball given by the Baronness de Pouilly. Right here, Robert very first met the poets and writers with who he previously always wished to be intimate: Barbey d’Aurevilly, Francois Coppée, José-Maria de Heredia, and Catulle Mendès. He shortly also made the friend of Judith Gautier, and Stephane Mallarmé. All of them noted their intellect, his amusing nature, and also the sincere respect he exhibited the literary career. Robert had been soon dominant among both the stylish and literary groups of Paris.

Would he be a poet or an artist? A critic or collector? Strange to express, Montesquiou’s initially great success was in the world of interior design. Into the loft of their parent’s mansion in the Quai d’Orsay, he changed the areas into some sort of dandy’s heaven that transfixed and captivated his contemporaries. Robert offered trips on a regular basis to popular visitors, several of whom left detailed information of these surroundings. The furniture ended up being also explained in fashion publications. Just what might have made these types of an impact? Exactly what performed the apartment contain? It absolutely was a marvel:

[…] Leaving himself absolve to adorn any bare wall space afterwards with some drawings and paintings, he confined himself for the show fitting up ebony bookshelves and bookcases across the better the main space, strewing tiger skins and blue fox furs about the floor, and installing beside an enormous money-changer’s table associated with the fifteenth century, a number of deep-seated wing-armchairs and a classic church lectern of wrought-iron, some of those traditional singing-desks on which deacons of old regularly place the antiphonary and which today supported one of many weighty folios of Du Cange’s Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinatis.

The windows, with panes of bluish crackle-glass or gilded bottle-punts which shut-out the view and admitted only a really dim light, had been dressed with curtains cut right out of old ecclesiastical stoles, whose faded silver threads had been almost hidden against the dull-red product.

As a completing touch, in the middle of the chimney-piece, that has been also dressed in sumptuous silk from a Florentine dalmatic, and flanked by two Byzantine monstrances of gilded copper which had originally originate from the Abbaye-au-Bois at Bièvre, truth be told there stood an impressive triptych whose split panels was in fact fashioned to resemble lace-work. This today contained, framed under cup, copied in genuine vellum in exquisite missal lettering and marvelously illuminated, three pieces by Baudelaire: on the right and left, the sonnets Los Angeles Mort des amants and L’Ennemi, plus in the middle, the prose poem bearing the English subject everywhere out of the World.