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Title: Tradition and poetic experimentation in Gaspard de la Nuit : Aloysius Bertrand and cultural exchange in French romanticism
Author: Gosetti, Valentina
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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In mainstream literary histories, Aloysius Bertrand (1807-1841) is still remembered as the canonical inventor of the prose poem in France. The established classification of Gaspard de la Nuit (1842) within the realm of the prose poem inevitably involves a retrospective appreciation of Bertrand’s work in light of the better-known authors that succeeded him in the history of this genre, such as Baudelaire and Mallarmé. The result is that Bertrand is often viewed as the inventor and/or the precursor of this genre; an important but, ultimately, minor contributor to its development. This hindsight brings with it a risk of critical anachronism against which Bertrand's contribution is often downplayed, especially because his thematic choices are seen to be outmoded, when compared to works by poets writing decades later. This thesis is a re-examination of Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit, incorporating an analysis of the cultural context that contributed to its production. The central argument is that in order to fairly assess Bertrand’s work, it is crucial to consider the poet’s contribution to, as well as his position in, the wider cultural exchange typical of his time. Using this contextual and historical approach, this thesis examines and challenges some of the main traditional considerations of Bertrand, such as his being a petit romantique, his provincialism, his unoriginality, and his role as the precursor and/or inventor of the prose poem. The overall aim is to assess fairly Bertrand’s unique synthesis of contemporary cultural and literary material with his own original work. By emphasising the crucial role of cultural exchange at the time of Gaspard de la Nuit’s production, we are thus able to begin to understand Bertrand in his own terms, rather than those of his successors, ourselves included, challenging commonly-held views and opening up new avenues for research.
Supervisor: Lunn-Rockliffe, Katherine Sponsor: Balliol College ; University of Oxford Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: French ; Literatures of Romance languages ; Aloysius Bertrand ; Gaspard de la Nuit ; Romanticism ; Prose Poetry ; French Provinces ; Fantastic