With little to fill the late evening, I decided that I might as well read Clarimonde, a short story set as part of my university course on the Gothic. At 24 pages, it was hardly an arduous task to take up. So, how well did it hold up with the other gothic fiction I’ve been reading recently?
Clarimonde is the story of a young priest, Romuald, who falls madly in love with a courtesan, the eponymous Clarimonde, on the day of his consummation as a priest. Despite his desire to be with her, his duty dictates that he become the cure at the church of a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. It is only when he is summoned to the bedside of a dying Clarimonde is he given an opportunity to be with her; unfortunately, it is not one that sits well with the part of him still devoted to God.
As a short story, there isn’t much room to really work with, but I really liked what was there. At first I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly was going to qualify Clarimonde as anything gothic, but Romuald’s strange double life was certainly a pleasant surprise. The reveal about Clarimonde’s true nature towards the end did seem a tad tacked on though, as the story doesn’t really go into the lore or the technicalities of how she functions in that condition.
As it’s only 24 pages, this is more than manageable to read. I’d definitely recommend it, particularly to readers of Gothic fiction or those who need something a bit lighter or who are in a reading slump. 4/5
Next review: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino