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Aurélia and Other Writings

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  646 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Aurelia is French poet and novelist Gerard de Nerval's account of his descent into madness--a condition provoked in part by his unrequited passion for an actress named Jenny Colon. One of the original self-styled -bohemians, - Nerval was best known in his own day for parading a lobster on a pale blue ribbon through the gardens of the Palais-Royal, and was posthumously noto ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 2nd 2004 by Exact Change (first published February 2nd 1996)
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Vit Babenco
Jun 06, 2017 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing
“The macrocosm, or greater world, was constructed by cabbalistic arts; the microcosm, or smaller world, is its image reflected in every heart.”
Gérard de Nerval descends into his madness to find there Aurélia like Orpheus descends into Tartarus to find Eurydice. And the insanity becomes Gérard de Nerval’s underworld…
“I entered a huge hall where many persons were assembled. I recognized familiar faces everywhere. The features of relatives whose deaths I had mourned were reproduced in the faces of
Eddie Watkins
May 14, 2008 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: surrealist metaphysicians
Aurelia is a non-fictional account of Nerval's "descent into hell", perhaps precipitated by the death of an actress he was obsessed/in love with. During this descent he is beseiged with visions, both waking and sleeping, of universal love and unity and universal desolation. He is also beseiged by his own Catholic guilt for seriously dabbling in the occult for the purposes of figuring out these very visions. These conflicts entangled him in a significant psychic bind and landed him in an asylum, ...more
Nate D
As recommended by Rene Daumal, various Surrealists, and others. The title story is actually less fully dream-like than expected, but actually more a personal account of ones own descent into and intermittent recovery from insanity. In that sense, it does fit in well with various Surrealist's acounts of their own periods of delusion (Unica Zurn's The Man of Jasmine and Leonora Carrington's Down Below are key examples of this genre), while looking ahead to some of the oneiric accounts in fictions ...more
Sep 01, 2008 Chris rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
I strongly caution anyone who treasures the precious little time they have on this beautiful, big, blue planet not to squander it reading the work of Gerard Labrunie (inspired to use the name Nerval in homage to the estate of a wealthy ancestor). If, in the most unlikely of events, you happen to be captured by some twisted gang of malcontents and forced to read the work of Nerval under torture, do your family proud and deny this ridiculous request until they’re forced to kill you. This sounds li ...more
Jul 30, 2007 Mitch rated it it was amazing
The ultimate poet's poet, Nerval merges his dream world with the world we all share in these prose pieces, bringing about a kind of romantic apocalypse. Gorgeous and harrowing at the same time, the delicate pubescent longing of Sylvie becomes the cosmic eschatological last one standing narrative of Aurelia. Way out there. Not for everybody, though. Some might find his romanticism a bit much. Not me. It is just right. Blinding.
Aug 03, 2007 Richard rated it really liked it
As close as you can get to watching a person go insane, which means it's a wince-fest. Some amazing prose, like for instance the first paragraph. Last pages of this autobiographical novel were found in Nerval's pocket as he was dangling from the wooden beam he hanged himself from. Those surrealists...
Jun 21, 2009 Tess rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Written as a novella but pure poetry.
Nov 16, 2008 Darin rated it it was amazing
I wish everyone would read this book.
Joe Dwyer
Oct 05, 2012 Joe Dwyer rated it it was amazing
"What is go on platonically loving a woman who will never love you."
—Gérard de Nerval, Aurélia (1855)
May 19, 2017 Cen rated it it was ok
What's more tedious than random pomo ramblings? Occultist romantic outpourings
Castor Luwian
Aug 13, 2014 Castor Luwian rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed most of this collection-- particularly Aurélia and Sylvie. Nerval is truly a Romantic; he expresses an often childlike sensitivity to life, a purity and naiveté of yearning, which is something I really appreciated: the absence of vanity in his writing; the ring of truth. He is always inebriated with wistful longing, and it's easy to get carried away with him.

There is a strong melancholic undercurrent to his observations on internal life, his romanticizations, and the externa
May 19, 2013 David rated it it was amazing
The author seems surprisingly modern.
Quinn Slobodian
Nov 27, 2007 Quinn Slobodian rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Hadji tells me Nerval brought his own human skull to dinner parties to drink wine out of and that Proust loved him for his ability to narrate perfectly from the space between wakefulness and sleep. As far as I could tell, the protagonist of the main story broke up with his girlfriend, lost his mind, and traveled back to the genesis of time to re-live the history of the world, including witnessing rival Elohim battling on mountaintops, dinosaur-like beasts plodding across the landscape and passin ...more
May 29, 2008 Tait rated it really liked it
Shelves: french, literature
The other major influence on the Surrealists, as well as on Proust and Joseph Cornell, Nerval manages to record the fantastic dreams and hallucinations that accompany his descent into madness. Before and after his madness he paints vivid scenes of childhood love, Parisian neighborhoods, and occult rituals.
Apr 01, 2008 Erik added it

more people should read this. dream, memory, insanity, love
KD St John
Mar 07, 2017 KD St John rated it really liked it
Romantic and unstable. Nerval is really a philosopher who walked his pet lobster around on the end of a blue silk ribbon.
Oct 11, 2010 Evgeny rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Meyrink fans dying for a half-assed french version of "Golem"?
Recommended to Evgeny by: Cocteau Twins
Shelves: french, 1850s
I was tricked into buying a collection of Nevral's writing by Cocteau Twins - supposedly they named songs on their amazing album "Treasure" after some of Nevral's characters. I've only got through half of Aurelia and I don't know if I ever get down to read some other things.

"Aurelia" is mysticism and romanticism, understood as wrongly as possible - incoherent ramblings about myths from various cultures mixed together without a shadow of a doubt, half-witted ideas about paradise and immortality p
Jul 05, 2008 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Aurelia so enthralled me the first time I read it, I immediately went back to it and read it again. I had to make sure I had not imagined reading it. There are ideas about dreams and insanity in this book that I have been exploring and attempting to digest in my own writing for years. At once it seemed both familiar and strange. This is a major wellspring for some later surrealist writings, namely Breton’s Nadja and Aragon’s Paris Peasant. Also, there is the translation of Sylvie in the Exact Ch ...more
Having repeatedly come across Nerval in The Open Work and other writings by Umberto Eco--at a time when I very much under the influence of the Italian--I was really pleased to find this handsome Damon & Naomi-published collection assigned in a seminar on fantastic literature in I believe 1997, and I offered to present on and write about it immediately. But it all seems like a dream now, and I can't remember much about the book, and I'm not sure what I would think of it now. I do remember tha ...more
Feb 05, 2014 secondwomn rated it really liked it
i waffle between 3.5 and 4 stars for this.

the title section should be read last, in my estimation.

gerard de nerval writes with seething honesty. echoes of cervantes. lots of strange orientalism.

somehow i am always surprised that suicides often seem to reach a point of despair wherein they cannot read. it makes me wonder.
کتاب سختی بود. پشت جلد کتاب نوشته صادق هدایت گفته اگر این کتاب رو زودتر خوانده بودم بوف کور را نمینوشتم.
ولی این کتاب خیلی پیچیدهتر از دنیای بوف کوره. اینجا هم نویسنده در یک فضای مالیخولیایی سیر میکنه و دنبال حقیقت زندگی و مرگ و خیر و شر در تاریخ بشریته؛ توش پر از اشاره به اساطیر و نمادهای دینیه. با یک بار خوندن آدم زیاد متوجه خیلی چیزا نمیشه و تمرکز روی متن کتاب برای من سخت بود
Oct 20, 2007 Antiabecedarian marked it as to-read
one day when i want something esoterically insane and soft and fluffy to coast along... why did I get this book? why is it still on this list? what a pretty picture on the cover!
Slap Happy
Apr 01, 2011 Slap Happy rated it it was ok
An inelegant, often clunky writing style dampens my appreciation for this otherwise excellent collection of works by Gerard de Nerval.
Nov 18, 2015 Pilar rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015-reads
I didn't understend the -holy- book, I guess I should read it again
Oct 26, 2013 David rated it it was amazing
The namesake of our golden-haired rat.
Nov 13, 2016 Lore rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and filled with art!
Oct 06, 2013 Marion rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-own
Disons que le romantisme/naturalisme n'est vraiment mais alors vraiment pas ma tasse de thé !!!
Jul 04, 2008 Jay added it
poignant writing, poetic too.
Jan 24, 2015 Milton rated it it was amazing
This is some powerful lovely touching dreamy shit
Havi rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2008
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  • The Book of Monelle
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Gérard de Nerval was the nom-de-plume of the French poet, essayist and translator Gérard Labrunie, one of the most essentially Romantic French poets.
More about Gérard de Nerval...

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“What is go on platonically loving a woman who will never love you.” 7 likes
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