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Aurélia and Other Writings

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  444 ratings  ·  23 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 not ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 2nd 2004 by Exact Change (first published February 2nd 1996)
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88th out of 543 books — 1,009 voters
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Concealed Authorship
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Community Reviews

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Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Dec 09, 2008 Chris rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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
Castor Luwian
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
Quinn Slobodian
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
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.
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.
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...
Joe Dwyer
"What is go on platonically loving a woman who will never love you."
—Gérard de Nerval, Aurélia (1855)
I wish everyone would read this book.
Jun 21, 2009 Tess rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Written as a novella but pure poetry.
The author seems surprisingly modern.
Sep 29, 2014 Evgeny rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
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
This is some powerful lovely touching dreamy shit
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.
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
An inelegant, often clunky writing style dampens my appreciation for this otherwise excellent collection of works by Gerard de Nerval.
Disons que le romantisme/naturalisme n'est vraiment mais alors vraiment pas ma tasse de thé !!!
Apr 01, 2008 Erik added it

more people should read this. dream, memory, insanity, love
The namesake of our golden-haired rat.
Nate D
Aug 14, 2012 Nate D marked it as to-read
As recommended by Rene Daumal.
Jul 04, 2008 Jay added it
poignant writing, poetic too.
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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...
Sylvie Aurélia Selected Writings Les Filles du feu - Les Chimères Les Chimères

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“What is go on platonically loving a woman who will never love you.” 3 likes
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