Nerval, Gérard de

BORN 21 May 1808, Paris - DIED 5 Jan 1855, Paris
BIRTH NAME Labrunie, Gérard
CAUSE OF DEATH suicide by hanging from a window grating
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Père Lachaise, Rue du Repos 16 (division 49, ligne 01)

Son of a military doctor from Napoleon's Grande Armée. His mother died when he was two and he was raised by his great-uncle Antoine Boucher. When his father returned from the war in 1814 he was brought to Paris. When he was at school he befrieded Théofile Gautier.

In 1828 he translated Goethe's "Faust". Goethe himself complimented him with the work and futher Goethe translations followed. His own poetry displayed a passion for the world of the spirits. Victor Hugo liked his work.

In 1836 he fell in love with the actress Jenny Colon, but she married the flutist Louis-Gabriel Leplus. In 1841 De Nerval had a nervous breakdown and in 1842 he was shocked by Jenny's early death. He travelled to the Levant, returning to Paris in 1844.

After his third nervous breakdown he published a series of novellas titled "Les Illuminés" in 1852, describing his feelings. His mental situation worsened and in 1855 he hung himself from a window grating.

The surrealists used his notion of the significance of dreams and Marcel Proust was influenced by his work.

Related persons
• has a connection with Colon, Jenny
• was a friend of Dupont, Pierre
• was a friend of Gautier, Théophile
• cooperated with Méry, Joseph
• met Pleyel-Moke, Marie Félicité
• influenced Proust, Marcel

28/2/1862Premiere of Gounod's opera "La reine de Saba" at the Opéra in Paris. It was based on Gérard de Nerval's "Le voyage en Orient". The libretto was written by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. Pierre-Louis Dietsch was the conductor. Bernardine Hamaekers played the role of Bénoni and Pauline Guéymard-Lauters played queen Balkis. Louis Guéymard was Adoniram and Mécène Marié de l'Isle was Phanor. [Gounod, Charles]


The grave of Gérard de Nerval at Père Lachaise, Paris.
Picture by Androom (28 Aug 2001)


• Culbertson, Judi & Tom Randall, Permanent Parisians, Robson Books, London, 1991
Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Gérard de Nerval - Wikipedia
La reine de Saba - Wikipedia


Published: 10 May 2009
Last update: 25 Apr 2022