Émile Goudeau

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Émile Goudeau
Emile Goudeau.jpg
Born(1849-08-29)29 August 1849
Périgueux, Dordogne, France
DiedSeptember 18, 1906(1906-09-18) (aged 57)
OccupationJournalist, novelist and poet
Known forFounder of Hydropathes club

Émile Goudeau (29 August 1849 – 18 September 1906) was a French journalist, novelist and poet. He was the founder of the Hydropathes literary club.


He was born in Périgueux, Dordogne, the son of Germain Goudeau, an architect, and cousin of Léon Bloy. Goudeau studied at the seminary, and then was supervisor in different high schools before becoming an employee at the Ministry of Finance, which gave him the opportunity to devote most of his time to poetry.

According to Maurice Donnay:

Émile Goudeau was from Périgord. He had a very brown complexion, very black hair and beard, a pronounced squint made him look fierce, but he was a very brave man, and he had much talent, which was original and tasty like wine ... Émile Goudeau had genius, just like that of the Duc Soulografiesky, his thirst was that of the Danaïdes.[a] Anyway, Émile Goudeau chaired the meetings of the Hydropathes with bonhomie and authority.

Goudeau founded the Hydropathes[b] society on 11 October 1878.[citation needed] According to Goudeau, the name came from the Hydropathen-valsh (Waltz of the Hydropaths) by the Hungarian-German musician Joseph Gungl.[1][c] The purpose of the society was to promote the works of the members. The Hydropathes Café in the rue Cujas was a large hall that could accommodate several hundred people. The society staged evening entertainments in the form of poetry or prose readings and songs. The society published a journal for about year, starting in January 1879, containing writings and pictures by members of the society.[3]

The Hydropathes drank heavily in the bohemian way of that time, particularly green absinthe, which was rampant. Goudeau paid his collaborators in drink, and this salary was fatal to the most gifted of them, Jules Jouy.[citation needed] At first the Hydropathes met on the Left Bank, but when Rodolphe Salis opened his cabaret, Le Chat Noir, in December 1881, he persuaded Goudeau to move the society there.[2] Goudeau helped Salis to launch his journal Le Chat Noir, which first appeared on 14 January 1882, drawing on his experience with the Hydropathes journal. Goudeau was chief editor of Le Chat Noir from 1882 to 1884.[2]


Caricature of Émile Goudeau
  • 1878: Fleurs du bitume (Flowers of bitumen)
  • 1884: Poèmes ironiques (Ironic Poems)
  • 1884: La Revanche des bêtes (Revenge of the beasts)
  • 1885: La Vache enragée[d] (The Angry Cow): novel
  • 1886: Voyages et découvertes du célèbre A'Kempis à travers les États-Unis de Paris (Travels and discoveries of famous A'Kempis across the United States from Paris): Fantasy, with drawings by Henri Rivière
  • 1887: Les Billets bleus (The Blue Tickets): novel
  • 1887: Le Froc: novel
  • 1888: Dix ans de bohème (Ten bohemian years): memoirs, The Illustrated Library, Paris, 1888; reissued by Champ Vallon, Paris, 2000
  • 1889: Corruptrice (Corrupter): novel
  • 1893: Paris qui consomme (The Paris who consumes) : fantasy
  • 1896: Chansons de Paris et d'ailleurs (Songs of Paris and elsewhere)
  • 1897: Poèmes parisiens (Parisian Poems)
  • 1900: La Graine humaine (The Human Grain): novel


The Place Émile-Goudeau in the 18th arrondissement of Paris is named in his honor. It is on Montmartre hill just below the Place du Tertre.

English translations published in the United States[edit]

  • Upside-Down Stories. Compiled and translated by Doug Skinner (Black Scat Books, ISBN 978-1732350687, 2019)



  1. ^ The story of the Danaïdes is part of Greek Mythology. They are condemned to spend eternity carrying water in a sieve or perforated device. Goudeau's thirst could never be satisfied.
  2. ^ Hydropaths are afraid of water, thinking other drinks such as wine or absinthe are safer.
  3. ^ Another explanation for the name is that the Hydropathe is a Canadian animal with crystal paws, which are used as champagne glasses.[2]
  4. ^ Manger La Vache enragée means to go hungry.[4]


  1. ^ Goudeau 2000, p. 182.
  2. ^ a b c Weikop 2013, p. 40.
  3. ^ Seigel 1999, p. 222.
  4. ^ Seigel 1999, p. 217.