Biography

Louis-Jacques-Napoléon “Aloysius” Bertrand (20 April 1807 – 29 April 1841) was a French poet instrumental in the introduction of the prose poem into French literature and is credited with inspiring later Symbolist poets [1]. He wrote a collection of poems entitled Gaspard de la nuit, after which composer Maurice Ravel wrote a suite of the same name, based on the poems "Scarbo", "Ondine", and "Le Gibet".

Bertrand was born in Ceva, Piedmont, Italy (then a part of Napoleonic France) and his family settled in Dijon in 1814. There he developed an interest in the Burgundian capital. His contributions to a local paper lead to recognition by Victor Hugo and Sainte-Beuve. He lived in Paris shortly with little success. He returned to Dijon and continued writing for local newspapers. Gaspard was sold in 1836 but it wasn't published until 1842 after his death of tuberculosis. The book was rediscovered by Charles Baudelaire and Stéphane Mallarmé. It is now considered a classic of poetic and fantastic literature. He died in Paris.

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