Nerval, Gérard de

Nerval, Gérard de

Nerval, Gérard de (zhārärˈ də nĕrvälˈ), 1808–55, French writer, an early romantic. His real name was Gérard Labrunie. His writings include translations of Faust (1828) and other German works; short stories, notably in Les Filles du feu (1854, partial tr. Daughters of Fire, 1922); travel sketches; and poems. Les Chimères (12 sonnets appended to Les Filles du feu) and Aurélia, his fantastic spiritual autobiography, which mirrors a life that ended in madness and probable suicide, have had some influence on modern surrealists.


See his selected writings (tr. by G. Wagner, 1957); study by N. Rinsler (1973).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nerval, Gérard De


(pen name of Gérard Labrunie). Born May 22, 1808, in Paris; died there Jan. 26, 1855. French poet. Son of an army doctor.

Nerval studied at the Lycée Charlemagne, where he became friendly with T. Gautier. While still a student, he published National Elegies (1826) and Political Satires (1827), written in the spirit of classicism. In these works, the poet condemned the restoration of Louis XVIII and mourned the recently lost greatness of France. Later, in the ode The People (1830), he hailed the July Revolution of 1830.

After joining the romantic movement and becoming an admirer of V. Hugo, Nerval wrote the fantastic story The Enchanted Hand (1832) and a number of plays in collaboration with A. Dumas père, the best of which is Lèo Burckart (1839). He was also the author of articles on the theater and poetry, and he translated works by Goethe (Faust), H. Heine, G. A. Bürger (Ignore), and other German poets From 1830 to 1835 he wrote Little Odes, and in 1854 he published a collection of short stories and sonnets, The Daughters of Fire. The inspiration for Nerval’s poetry was in French national culture. However, Nerval was also influenced by German romanticism and Oriental myths (the short story “Isis”; Scenes From Oriental Life, vols. 1–2, 1850). He was likewise interested in the occult (the book of essays The Illuminati, 1852). Nerval’s later poems influenced the symbolists.


Oeuvres, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1958.
In Russian translation:
Sil’viia. Oktaviia. Izida. Avreliia. Edited by and introductory article by P. Muratov. Moscow, 1912. [“Stikhi.”] Translation and introduction by M. Kudinov. Inostrannaia literatura, 1974, no. 1.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Richer, J. G. de Nerval. . . , 6th revised ed. [Paris, 1968.]
Senelier, J. Bibliographie nervalienne (1960–1967) et compléments antérieurs. Paris, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.