February 17, 2011

"Voyage en Orient" by G. de Nerval : genesis of a publication

J.-P. Girault de Prangey - Banks of the Nile - Daguerreotype © BNF
In Voyage en Orient, Gérard de Nerval (1808-1855) put together ten years of experiences, views and impressions. In 1842, after a first certified hysteric crisis and a thwarted love, Nerval began a journey to the East and wants to give the impression of a serious enterprise. He enlisted the services of an Egyptologist, Th. de Fondrède. He took with him a full exploration equipment, products for daguerreotype and books to learn Arabic. His path took him to visit, among others, Alexandria, Cairo, Beirut, Constantinople, Malta. Nerval deflowered his manuscript in rare articles and garnished his purse in writing drama serials. From May 1846 to October 1847, he published "Scènes de la vie Orientale" in the renowned journal the Revue des Deux Mondes. The text is reprinted by Sartorius in 2 volumes, one in 1848  with the subtitle "Women of Cairo" and a second in 1850, "Women of Lebanon. "
In 1851 Nerval signed a contract with the publisher Charpentier : Voyage en Orient included the text published in La Revue des Deux Mondes, the double edition of Sartorius, an expanded version of "Les Nuits de Ramazan" first published in the journal  Le National, and an additional of eleven chapters to "Women of Cairo." Other variants and subsequent additions are made, especially in "Les Pyramides" and "L'Histoire de la reine du matin et de Soliman, prince des génies". Thus, after numerous revisions Voyage en Orient was born, the most successful work of Nerval in which one can fully discover the poetic, symbolist and mystic nature of the author.
(sources : Bibliographie des oeuvres de G. de Nerval par A. Marie, Guide du Biibliophile par M. Clouzot, Larousse).

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • NERVAL  (Gérard de). Voyage en Orient. Paris, Charpentier, 1851, 2 volumes in-12, half black sheepskin (binding from that time). First edition under this title.