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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,497 ratings  ·  91 reviews
An autobiographical fiction of major appeal.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Green Integer (first published 1855)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,497 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Vit Babenco
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every man is a reflection of the world…
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 mour
Eddie Watkins
May 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Proust fans, dreamers, escapists, the mentally unstable
Shelves: 19th-century, french
I suspect that most of us have some kind of reality escape hatch that removes us from the inevitable difficulties both large and small of everyday existence. Whether it's religion, drugs/alcohol, reading too many books (!!!), there's another world outside the one we experience with our five senses that most of us look to in order to survive this one. The majority of us can delineate between the "real" world and the "other" world we imagine but there are those for whom the line between these worl ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gérard de Nerval, after his collapse.

Awakening is a bitter ordeal to some, in not the least of whose ranks we may number de Nerval.

Like many of the French poètes maudits, his previous life had been a dream - until the day Aurélie capsized his bateau ivre.

Life’s not a dress rehearsal.

It’s for real.

And many of our friends and associates are playing hardball.

‘Suis-je Amour ou Phoebus?’

If you don’t know the answer to that
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Dream is a second life.
Gérard de Nerval sets out to break down the barrier between dreams and waking life. I’m on board with this. Aurélia is a lucid recitation and exposition of not only dreams, but various fugue states, metaphysical visions, hallucinatory episodes, and accounts of incarcerations in numerous asylums and clinics around the Paris metropolitan area. What is it about?! Everything! Alchemy! The creation of new life! Deconstruction and manipulation of religious iconography for co
Castor Luwian
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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... ...more
Branden William
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As a member of the eccentric Bouzingo group in France, in the 1830s, Gérard de Nerval was eventually praised by André Breton as a "prophet" of Surrealism for Nerval's pursuit of the significance of dreams, and for his "persistent vitality of an esoteric conception of the world." Nerval's 'Aurélia & Other Writings' is a beautiful collection of Nerval's most coveted short stories, including the novella 'Sylvie', which is often considered Nerval's prose masterpiece. These stories encapsulate a deep ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish everyone would read this book.
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Written as a novella but pure poetry.
Joe Dwyer
"What is go on platonically loving a woman who will never love you."
—Gérard de Nerval, Aurélia (1855)
The gorgeously bewildering Aurélia seems to provoke the most commentary, but it was the exquisite Sylvie that really knocked me out (as apparently it did Proust, who cited it as one of his major influences; later Joseph Cornell was similarly bewitched). Umberto Eco describes it as "the dream of a dream," and that's a better summation of what to expect with this collection than anything I could possibly hope to come up with myself. ...more
Having repeatedly come across Nerval in The Open Work and other writings by Umberto Eco—at a time when I was 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
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author seems surprisingly modern.
Oct 05, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
An "almost pathological sense that reality is not stable," says my boy Warwick, and do I love that stuff? Yes I do. ...more
Jul 24, 2008 is currently reading it
The ravings of a madman? A cleverly constructed artifice? Both in different places? Nerval really did spend his adult life in and out of asylums, but he was also friends with lots of the biggest and best artists, writers, etc. in Paris in the 1840s and 50s.

Aurelia is about the "outpouring of the dream world into real life." Maddened by unrequited love for Aurelia, who at various points converges with the Virgin Mary, Cybele, Isis, etc. and is based on the real-life Marie Pleyel, Nerval passes i
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
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

more people should read this. dream, memory, insanity, love
J. Lynn
I loved it even before I realized it was a 90 page struggle against castration.
Apr 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Mystical and febrile novella, reminiscent of a William Blake print.
This, along with the writings of Unica Zurn, is true Surrealism.
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A more French, more mystic Catcher in the Rye. I could (should, otherwise I'm a rude person) probably say more, but I'm sleepy. ...more
May 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What's more tedious than random pomo ramblings? Occultist romantic outpourings ...more
Bradley Clacy
Worth it for Aurélia, which describes the author's hallucinatory descent into madness and was influential to the surrealists and other writers like René Daumal and Antonin Artaud, but the other texts are not worth your time. ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet with alot of fun descriptions of a dreamy world.
I would have liked a bit more plot though.
Oct 11, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Meyrink fans dying for a half-assed french version of "Golem"?
Recommended to AC 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
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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.

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“l'imagination m'apportait des délices infinies. En recouvrant ce que les hommes appellent la raison, faudra-t-il regretter de les avoir perdues...?

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“You see spirits who talk to you in broad daylight, at night you see perfectly shaped, perfectly distinct phantoms, you think you remember having lived in other forms, you imagine you are growing very tall and that your head is touching the stars, the horizon of Saturn and Jupiter spreads before your eyes, bizarre creatures appear before you with all the characteristics of real beings . . . If the mind has to become completely unhinged in order to place us in communication with another world, it is clear that the mad will never be able to prove to the sane how blind they are, to say the very least!” 11 likes
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