The writer, whose real name is Gerard Labruni, used the name Gerard de Nerval in his works and took his place among the representatives of the romantic movement in the world. He even became one of the creators of modern French poetry. Nerval, who is also a traveler, has been to Turkey many times, and he liked the Istanbul cemeteries the most. We told you who Gerard de Nerval is, how his life turned out and what are his main works.
You can also check out this content: “William Blake: The Most Romantic Poet of All Time, Known for His Writings on the Theme of Mysticism.”
Gerard de Nerval was born on May 22, 1808 in Paris.
Since his mother died when he was two years old and his father was a military doctor in Napoleon’s army, Nerval grew up with his grandfather in Montefontaine. When his father returned from the war in 1814, Nerval returned to Paris and entered Charlemagne College in the 1820s. It was here that he met Théophile Gauthier, one of the young Romantic poets of the time and one of the founders of the later Parnassian poetic movement.
He entered the literary circle of Paris when he was 20 years old.
At the age of twenty, he won Goethe’s recognition with his free translation of Faust and entered the literary circles of Paris. In the 1830s he joined the ranks of the young Romantic poets, led by such poets as Gauthier and Pétrus Borel (1809–1859). Thanks to the inheritance of his grandfather, he had the opportunity to travel outside of France. He fell in love with the theater actress Jenny Colon, whom he met in 1836, but Colon married another and died some time later. Colón became Nerval’s dream figure and greatly influenced his work. Nerval, who was interested in the theater and wrote plays during his years with Colon, also tried to publish a theater magazine, but without success.
Nerval’s mental health gradually deteriorated
Beginning in 1841, Nerval’s mental health gradually deteriorated, and he was hospitalized several times. Gerard de Nerval undertook an eastern journey in 1842 which also included Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. His book Voyage en Orient (Journey to the East), which he wrote upon his return, is a work that reflects his spiritual journey and quest, as well as a travelogue. Nerval’s mental disorders periodically continued even after he returned from his trip.
Gerard de Nerval committed suicide on January 26, 1855.
Nerval wrote a poem to his aunt containing the lines “Don’t wait for me tonight, because the night will be black (black) and white (white)…” and hung his body from a street lamp on January 26, 1855. According to another rumor, he is said to have committed suicide by hanging himself from the bars of his house. The most reliable information about the sad death of Nerval is that the poets who came to look at him silently stood in front of his hanged body.
Buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, Nerval is one of those rare Romantic poets who committed suicide because of love. While his works, translated into Italian by Umberto Eco, guide Italian literature; Nerval is also one of the greatest inspirations of modern surrealism.
Major works of Gerard de Nerval
- 1851 – Voyage en Orient (Journey to the East) – Written based on his trips to Cairo and Beirut.
- 1852 – Les Nuits d’Octobre (October Nights)
- 1853 – Sylvia (one of the most important works in the history of romantic literature)
- 1854 – Les Filles du Feu (The Daughters of Fire) – This work consists of short stories.
- 1855 – Aurelia (one of the most important works in the history of romantic literature)
- 1856 – Promenades and souvenirs (Wanderings and memories)
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