Nerval – Aurélia, followed by Sylvie

Aurélia, followed by Sylvie

From Aurélia:

“One third of our life is spent in sleep. It is a consolation for the troubles of our waking hours or atonement for their pleasures; but I have never experienced sleep to be mere repose. After a few minutes' lethargy, a new life begins, untrammeled by the limitations of time and space, and undoubtedly similar to that which awaits us after death. . . .

“. . . Then I thought I was in the middle of a vast charnel-house where the history of the universe was being written in blood. . . .”

About the Author

Throughout his life, the poet and writer Gérard de Nerval (1808–1855) struggled with bouts of madness — inspired in part by his obsessions for idealized women — and he ended his life wandering homeless on the streets of Paris until he was found hanging from a sewer grating, an apparent suicide.

As one of the most individualistic of the colorful French Romantics, the details of Nerval’s life have passed into legend. Writers and commentators have served up any number of versions of his mysterious love affair with the actress Jenny Colon — not to mention his famous habit of walking a lobster on a pale blue leash through the gardens of the Palais Royale.

Soon after the completion, in 1853, of his bizarre tale of obsession, the novella Sylvie, Nerval began, under advice from his doctor, an extended personal journal/essay chronicling his psychic experiences and visions. What emerged from these writings is Aurélia, a text hailed by the Surrealists as an important precursor to their own theories. Simply put, Aurélia is a masterpiece in the literature of dreams, myths, and hallucinations.

This expanded and corrected version of the original 1991 Asylum Arts edition of Aurélia adds the novella Sylvie. Together these novellas give witness to the claim that Nerval was one of the most remarkable prose writers of his century.


“A novella now faithfully and elegantly translated by Kendall Lappin.”
     — The San Francisco Chronicle

“Written shortly before his suicide in 1855, Aurélia represents Nerval’s attempts to report and organize a series of vivid dreams and/or hallucinations, in which he saw a cosmic significance. . . . These broken fragments offer an intriguing and disturbing vision of a disturbed but acute intellect.”      — The Los Angeles Times

Price: $9.95