Aloysius Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit
Beyond the Prose Poem

Valentina Gosetti

Legenda (General Series)


1 September 2016  •  182pp

ISBN: 978-1-909662-83-4 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-315560-55-7 (Taylor & Francis ebook)


Aloysius Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit (1842) is a familiar title to music lovers, thanks to Ravel's piano work of the same name, and to specialists of French literature, especially those interested in Baudelaire's prose poetry. Yet until very recently the collection and its author have generally been viewed almost exclusively through the prism of their pioneering role in the development of the prose poem. By placing Bertrand back in his original context, adopting a comparative approach and engaging with recent critical work on the collection, Valentina Gosetti proposes a substantial reassessment of Gaspard de la Nuit and promotes a new understanding of Bertrand in his own terms, rather than those of his successors. Through his playful and ironic reinterpretation of Romantic clichés, and his overt defiance of the boundaries of poetry and beauty, Bertrand emerges as a fascinating figure in his own right.

This book is one of the first full-length studies of Bertrand's work, and it will be of particular interest to specialists of the nineteenth century and of provincial literature, and to students of nineteenth-century poetry or the fantastic.

See also Valentina Gosetti's article in the magazine Treccani, in Italian, which can be found online here; and similarly the website Nuovi Argomenti.

Valentina Gosetti holds the Kathleen Bourne Junior Research Fellowship at St Anne's College, University of Oxford.


  • ‘It is Baudelaire that dubs [Bertrand] the pioneer of the prose-poem and out of this well-meaning act springs the genie of subsequent critical depreciation. Gosetti’s absorbing and hugely valuable historical recontextualization of Bertrand gives us just the tools we need to do Gaspard altogether better justice.’ — Clive Scott, Journal of European Studies 47.1, 2017, 82-83
  • ‘In her informative and thoroughly researched monograph, Valentina Gosetti contends that developing a fuller understanding of Bertrand’s Gaspard de la Nuit is contingent upon a wider appreciation of the historical, social, cultural, and literary contexts in which the collection was produced... This study, which includes an appendix containing four beautiful English translations by Gian Lombardo, is a valuable contribution to the scholarship on Bertrand in the Anglophone world. It will be of great interest to historians and literary scholars of French Romanticism.’ — Catherine Witt, H-France 17, 2017
  • ‘In clear and eloquent prose, Gosetti presents a lively and thoroughly interesting account of Gaspard that illuminates a creative experimental work deserving of its proper spot in the canon of French Romantic literature... Gosetti convinces the reader many times over that Gaspard de la Nuit is an audacious nexus of literary and artistic motifs that emerge once the portrait of the artist is allowed to share the Romantic limelight.’ — Karen F. Quandt, Nineteenth-Century French Studies 46.1-2, 2017
  • ‘This elegant and beautifully written monograph seeks to offer new insights into Gaspard de la nuit, by returning to the literary and cultural context in which it was written, and approaching it on its own terms... Gosetti’s book richly deserves to achieve its aim of encouraging readers to pick up Bertrand, but it also offers an enormously rewarding read for anyone interested more generally in prose poetry, provincial literature, and the role of the fantastic in nineteenth-century France.’ — Fiona Cox, French Studies 71.4, October 2017, 585-86 (full text online)
  • ‘«Fascinating work» que ce Gaspard de la Nuit, écrit-elle dans les dernières lignes de sa conclusion: le lecteur en est toujours plus convaincu après avoir lu ce brillant essai.’ — Christine Marcandier, Revue Bertrand No. 1, 2018, 256-59

Bibliography entry:

Gosetti, Valentina, Aloysius Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit: Beyond the Prose Poem (Cambridge: Legenda, 2016)

First footnote reference: 35 Valentina Gosetti, Aloysius Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit: Beyond the Prose Poem (Cambridge: Legenda, 2016), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Gosetti, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Gosetti, Valentina. 2016. Aloysius Bertrand's Gaspard de la Nuit: Beyond the Prose Poem (Cambridge: Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Gosetti 2016: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Gosetti 2016: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

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