Aloysius Bertrand’s Gaspard de la Nuit (1842) is a familiar title to music lovers, thanks to Ravel’s piano work of the same name, and to specialists of French literature, especially those interested in Baudelaire’s prose poetry. Yet until very recently the collection and its author have generally been viewed almost exclusively through the prism of their pioneering role in the development of the prose poem. By placing Bertrand back in his original context, adopting a comparative approach and engaging with recent critical work on the collection, Valentina Gosetti proposes a substantial reassessment of Gaspard de la Nuit and promotes a new understanding of Bertrand in his own terms, rather than those of his successors. Through his playful and ironic reinterpretation of Romantic clichés, and his overt defiance of the boundaries of poetry and beauty, Bertrand emerges as a fascinating figure in his own right.
This book is one of the first full-length studies of Bertrand’s work, and it will be of particular interest to specialists of the nineteenth century and of provincial literature, and to students of nineteenth-century poetry or the fantastic.