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.
"It is Baudelaire that dubs him the pioneer of the prose-poem and out of this well-meaning act springs the genie of subsequent critical depreciation. Gosetti's absorbing and hugely valuable historical recontextualisation of Betrand gives us just the tool we need to do Gaspard altogether better justice."
Clive Scott, Journal of European Studies 47 (1)
"In her informative and thoroughly researched monograph, Valentina Gosetti contends that developing a fuller understanding of Bertrand’s Gaspard de la Nuit is contingent upon a wider appreciation of the historical, social, cultural, and literary contexts in which the collection was produced.
This study, which includes an appendix containing four beautiful English translations by Gian Lombardo, is a valuable contribution to the scholarship on Bertrand in the Anglophone world. It will be of great interest to historians and literary scholars of French Romanticism."
Catherine Witt, H-France Review Vol. 17 (June 2017), No. 89
"Gosetti’s book richly deserves to achieve its aim of encouraging readers to pick up Bertrand, but it also offers an enormously rewarding read for anyone interested more generally in prose poetry, provincial literature, and the role of the fantastic in nineteenth century France."
Fiona Cox, French Studies, 71 (4) October 2017
Louis Bertrand between Dijon and Paris 2 Mysterious Geographies 3 Gaspard de la Nuit: A Fantastic Text? 4 Intertextuality and Cultural Exchange in Gaspard de la Nuit 5 Gaspard de la Nuit and the Hermeneutics of Form