Australian Journal of French Studies

Periodical Press and Formal Innovation in Aloysius Bertrand’s Gaspard de la Nuit

Australian Journal of French Studies (2017), 54, (2-3), 253–268.

Abstract

Louis (Aloysius) Bertrand’s Gaspard de la Nuit (posthumously published in 1842) is often still remembered as the first canonical collection of prose poetry in France. Although seemingly flattering, this established classification has led to a retrospective appreciation of Bertrand’s work in light of the better-known authors that succeeded him in the history of this genre. The aim of this article is to challenge this traditional commonplace, by resituating Bertrand’s collection in its own time, the 1820s and 1830s, and by studying the compositions of Gaspard de la Nuit within the context of wider, contemporary Romantic experimentation. After discussing Bertrand’s debts to his contemporaries, this article argues that Bertrand’s typographical and spatial awareness, which was probably gained through his journalistic experience, represents a further step within Romantic poetic practice. The real inventor of the fantaisie Bertrandienne might well be the periodical press.

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Author details

Gosetti, Valentina