Welcome to the new term! Another Spring Term and I am hoping that it will be exciting both academically, and practically, and that we will get the beginning of some lovely warm weather.
Gérard de Nerval
I would like to kick off this term with the poetry of Gérard de Nerval (1808–1855) De Nerval was a French experimental poet who liked to take his lobster for a walk! Whether this is true or not is highly debatable however De Nerval was quite eccentric and he stated;
'[De Nerval] had a pet lobster named Thibault that he took on walks in the Palais Royal gardens of Paris, using a blue silk ribbon as a leash. When asked why he did this, he replied. Why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog? Or a cat, or a gazelle, or a lion, or any other animal that one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. They know the secrets of the sea, they don't bark, and they don't gobble up your monadic privacy like dogs do. And Goethe had an aversion to dogs, and he wasn't mad!' (Museum of Hoaxes: 2013)
De Nerval wrote both books and poetry which 'explored the uncertain borderlines between dream and reality, irony and madness, autobiography and fiction with his groundbreaking writings.' (Waterstones n.d)
De Nerval influenced many other writers and poets including T.S. Eliot who uses a quote from De Nerval at the end of his epic poem The Wasteland. His travelogue Voyage en Orient was widely acclaimed. De Nerval's later work mixing poetry, prose, and journalism influenced Marcel Proust and Aurélia influenced Andre Breton and the Surrealist's work.
De Nerval achieved much in his short life, and his influence on other writers' and artists' work is impressive. De Nerval committed suicide on the night of 26 January 1855 by hanging himself from a lantern post. The artist Gustave Doré depicts this in his work below. De Nerval was indeed insane and spent most of his life in and out of an asylum, his doctor Emile Blanche commented; 'he hung himself because he looked madness in the face' (De Nerval 1996)
Did Gerard de Nerval walk his pet lobster through Paris? (2013) Museum of Hoaxes. Available at: http://hoaxes.org/weblog/comments/nerval_lobster (Accessed: January 6, 2023).
Selected writings by Gerard de Nerval, Richard Sieburth | Waterstones (no date) Waterstones. Available at: https://www.waterstones.com/book/selected-writings/gerard-de-nerval/richard-sieburth/9780140446012 (Accessed: January 6, 2023).
Doré, G. (no date) La Rue de la Vieille Lanterne: The suicide of gérard de nerval, The Art Institute of Chicago. Prints and Drawings. Available at: https://www.artic.edu/artworks/105494/la-rue-de-la-vieille-lanterne-the-suicide-of-gerard-de-nerval (Accessed: January 9, 2023).
De Nerval G. (1996) Aurelia & Other Writings, Translated by Geoffrey Wagner, Robert Ducan & Marc Lowenthal, Exact Change, Boston