Nerval, Ronsard and the Orphic Lyre: Modulating Romantic Irony in Les Chimères

Originally an aspiring scholar of Renaissance French verse, the young Gérard de Nerval would abruptly distance himself from the influence of 16th-century forbear Pierre de Ronsard and the Petrarchan sonnet, only to create a modernized version of the 14-line verse form as a mature poet in what would prove his greatest poetic achievement, Les Chimères. To enter fully into the lyrical lineage of Ronsard, Petrarch and Orpheus, Nerval first had to experience the dispossession of 1848, where firsthand knowledge of the failures of poetic transcendence allow the romantic ironist to recreate mimetically in his verse both disillusionment and the Orphic experience.

Robert J. Hudson
Volume 2013 (41.3-4)