If ever a writer . . . sought to define himself painstakingly to himself, to grasp and bring light to the murky shadings, the deepest laws and most elusive impressions of the human soul, it was Gérard de Nerval. —Marcel Proust
Every intelligent English-speaking reader must be grateful to Richard Sieburth and Archi- pelago Books for rescuing from oblivion this gem of factual fiction, revealing a Nerval poised somewhere between the subversive Diderot and the vitriolic Voltaire. The Salt Smugglers now has pride of place in my ideal library. —Alberto Manguel
The octrois of reason exact a cruel tithe compounded of the flesh and blood of mankind. The arbitrary authority of fate casts our lives into Bastilles far more terrible than those stormed by revolutions. This is why we so love and admire all those salt smugglers of the spirit, all those bootleggers of contraband ideas who thumb their noses at the black-shirted guards of narrow logic. —Michel Leiris
About the Author
Poet, storyteller, autobiographer, translator, and visionary, Gérard de Nerval (1808–55) explored the blurry boundaries between dream and reality, fact and fiction, imagination and madness in his groundbreaking writings. Nerval was a pioneering modernist, a precursor of the French Symbolists, and a vital influence on writers such as Marcel Proust, André Breton, and Antonin Artaud. His works include Voyage en Orient ( Journey to the Orient), Sylvie – which Umberto Eco deemed a "masterpiece," Les Filles du Feu (The Daughters of Fire), Les Illuminés (The Illuminati), and Aurélia – which opens with "Dream is a second life." Richard Sieburth’s translations include Gérard de Nerval’s Selected Writings, Friedrich Hölderlin’s Hymns and Fragments, Walter Benjamin’s Moscow Diary, Henri Michaux’s Emergences/ Resurgences and Stroke by Stroke, Gérard de Nerval’s The Salt Smugglers, Michel Leiris’ Nights as Day, Days as Night, and Gershom Scholem’s The Fullness of Time: Poems. His edition of Nerval’s Selected Writings won the 2000 PEN/Book-of-the-Month-Club Translation Prize. His recent translation of Maurice Scève’s Délie was a finalist for the PEN Translation Prize and the Weidenfeld Prize.