Flemish School, Old Paris, & Night & Its Spells
by Aloysius Bertrand, translated by Gian Lombardo

ISBN: 0-9656161-7-7
Saddle-stitched, $5.00
Publication Date: Winter 2000
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 40 pages
(ISSN: 1527-9579, Volume 1, Number 1)

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1-800-869-7553 ; or Amazon.com.

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This chapbook is the first in Quale Press’s edition key satch(el) quarterly series of chapbook collections of prose poetry. “Flemish School,” “Old Paris,” and “Night & Its Spells” are the first three (of six) sections, or ‘books,’ of Alyosius Bertrand’s Gaspard of the Night: Fantasies in the Manner of Rembrandt and Callot (published in 1842), which is credited as being the first Western example of the modern prose poem. Constructed almost like a hall of mirrors, Bertrand used the character of Gaspard to render these vignettes. Written in the early 19th century, but mimicking life two, three and even four centuries before, the modern reader is presented with what a mirror does best: presenting both ‘sides’ of an image — ugliness and beauty.

“A splendid translation of Bertrand, which makes available a text that brings to the light of day the underside of experience that has not yet been noticed. There is some curious mingling of the ordinary and the extraordinary in Bertrand, whose angle of vision and unique perspective have yielded an outstanding text.”
— Lawrence Fixel

From Flemish School, Old Paris, & Nights & Its Spells...


“Dear Lord, grant me at the hour of my
death the last rights, a linen shroud,
a fir coffin and a dry place for my grave.”
Paternosters of a General

Scarbo muttered much into my ear that night: “Whether you die absolved or damned, you’ll have a cobweb for a shroud. And, don’t worry, I’ll wind the spider in it with you.”

By the time I answered him my eyes were red from having cried so much. “Oh, may I at least have an aspen leaf for a shroud so I can be lulled by lake breezes?”

“No!” the snickering dwarf jeered. “You’re going to be fodder for dung-beetles hunting down gnats blinded by the setting sun.”

“How about,” I asked him with my cheeks still streaming with tears, “how about if I were sucked up by a tarantula with an elephant-size trunk? Would you like that better?”

“That’d be good,” he added. “But console yourself with the fact that you’ll have a snakeskin with its thin, gold-flecked bands for a shroud. I’ll wrap you in it tighter than a mummy.

“And in Saint-Bénigne’s filthy crypt I’ll lay you to rest propped up against a wall. There you’ll hear at your leisure small babies crying in Limbo.”

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