Gérard de Nerval

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Gérard de Nerval (1808 – 1855) was one of several pseudonyms used by Gérard Labrunie, who translated Goethe’s Faust at age 19 and continued to import German Romanticism into French while also reverting to Renaissance poets for sonnet forms. A theater critic, travel writer and prose stylist, he is also ranked, on the basis of a dozen evocative sonnets, as one of the finest French poets. Subject to repeated schizophrenic breakdowns, he died at 47. His last words, in a note to his aunt on a winter afternoon before he hanged himself, were “Don’t wait up for me tonight, for the night will be black and white.”