Aloysius (Louis) Bertrand, a French Romantic writer, was born in Northern Italy in 1807 and died in 1841. In Paris, he associated with the literati of his time (Hugo, Sainte-Beuve) but could not interest publishers in his work. Finally, the sculptor Jean-Pierre David took up the cause of seeing Gaspard de la nuit into print, which happened the year after Bertrand died. The book did not have much success with the general public, but it did have a profound effect on a number of French writers (Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, the Surrealists, Jacob, etc.) Bertrand’s book inspired Charles Baudelaire to apply “to the description of our more abstract modern life the same method [Bertrand] used in depicting the old days, so strangely picturesque.” It was Gaspard that prompted Baudelaire’s quest in Paris Spleen to attain “the miracle of a poetic prose, musical, without rhythm and without rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of reverie, the jibes of conscience. Quale Press has published a translation of the first half of Gaspard de la nuit.

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