Louis Bertrand's GASPARD DE LA NUIT: FANTASIES IN THE MANNER OF REMBRANDT AND CALLOT (originally published in 1842 in France) is credited as being the first Western collected work that stands on its own of the modern prose poem. Constructed almost like a hall of mirrors, Bertrand used the character of Gaspard to render these vignettes that are fantasies of life gone by. 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. Each piece deftly paints its own scene. Bertrand uses his unique version of Romanticism and fuses it with his conception of the Gothic. His subject matter ranges from the beautiful dream to horrific nightmare, from kings and queens to low-born tavern keepers and bandits.
Consisting of six "books" —Flemish School, Old Paris, Night and Its Spells, Chronicles, Spain and Italy, and Sylphs— this edition tries to follow Bertrand's initial instructions on how he wanted his manuscript to appear: full of images everywhere, including all of Bertrand's known drawings. Over 300 images are included, mostly period artwork.
The book did not have much success at the time 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." And for André Breton, "Bertrand is Surrealist in the past."
This translation seeks to be as faithful as possible to Bertrand's original manuscript.
“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
Gian Lombardo's books include the prose poetry collections BRICKED BATS (Quale Press, 2021), SEEING WITH EYES CLODED, (Quale Press, 2019), MACHINES WE HAVE BUILT (Quale Press, 2014), Who Lets Go First (2010), Aid & A_Bet (2008), Of All the Corners to Forget (2004), Sky Open Again (1997), Before Arguable Answers (1993), and STANDING ROOM (Dolphin-Moon Press1989) as well as the poetry collection Between Islands (1984). Lombardo's translations include Michel Delville's Anything & Everything (2016), Archestratos's Gastrology or Life of Pleasure or Study of the Belly or Inquiry Into Dinner (2009), Michel Delville's Third Body (2009), Eugène Savitzkaya's Rules of Solitude (2004), and Aloysius Bertrand's Flemish School, Old Paris, & Night and Its Spells (2000). He directs Quale Press, which mainly publishes prose poetry, and teaches publishing at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.Author City: USA
Louis (Aloysius) 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 Pierre-Jean David (David d'Angers) took up the cause of seeing Gaspard de la Nuit into print, which happened the year after Bertrand died. Gaspard is considered to be the first modern collection of prose poetry.