The Salt Smugglers by Gerard De NervalThe Salt Smugglers by Gerard De Nerval

The Salt Smugglers

byGerard De NervalTranslated byRichard Sieburth

Paperback | August 28, 2009

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First published as a feuilleton in a left-wing newspaper in 1850, The Salt Smugglers provides a political satire of the waning days of France’s short-lived Second Republic. With nods to Diderot and Sterne, this shaggy-dog story deals less with contraband salt smugglers than with the subversive power of fiction to transgress legal and esthetic boundaries. By writing what he claimed was a purely documentary account of his picaresque adventures in search of an elusive book recording the true history of a certain seventeenth-century swashbuckler, Nerval sought to deride the press censors of the day who forbade the serial publication of novels in newspapers – and in the process he provocatively deconstructed existing distinctions between fact and fiction. Never before translated into English and still unavailable as a separately published volume in French, The Salt Smugglers is a pre-postmodern gem of experimental prose. Richard Sieburth’s vibrant translation and illuminating afterword remind us why Gérard de Nerval’s blend of sly irony and acerbic social criticism proved so inspiring to authors as various as Baudelaire, Proust, and Leiris.
Poet, storyteller, autobiographer, translator, and visionary, Gérard de Nerval (1808–55) explored the blurry boundaries between dream and reality, fact and fiction, imagination and madness in his groundbreaking writings. Nerval was a pioneering modernist, a precursor of the French Symbolists, and a vital influence on writers such as Ma...
Title:The Salt SmugglersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:147 pages, 6.7 × 8.12 × 0.4 inPublished:August 28, 2009Publisher:Steerforth PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0980033063

ISBN - 13:9780980033069

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Read from the Book

I fear it was quite foolhardy on my part to have promised you a few details concerning a curious figure who lived toward the end of the reign of Louis XIV. I know that contributors to the National are required to observe a virtually military precision, and I am accordingly determined to honor my commitment to the fullest of my capabilities; but unfortunately my resolve has been somewhat sidetracked by unforeseen circumstances. Only a month ago, I happened to be passing through Frankfurt. I had two days to kill, but being already acquainted with the place, there was little for me to do but wander through its principal streets which, as so happened,

Editorial Reviews

If ever a writer . . . sought to define himself painstakingly to himself, to grasp and bring light to the murky shadings, the deepest laws and most elusive impressions of the human soul, it was Gérard de Nerval. —Marcel Proust Every intelligent English-speaking reader must be grateful to Richard Sieburth and Archi- pelago Books for rescuing from oblivion this gem of factual fiction, revealing a Nerval poised somewhere between the subversive Diderot and the vitriolic Voltaire. The Salt Smugglers now has pride of place in my ideal library. —Alberto Manguel The octrois of reason exact a cruel tithe compounded of the flesh and blood of mankind. The arbitrary authority of fate casts our lives into Bastilles far more terrible than those stormed by revolutions. This is why we so love and admire all those salt smugglers of the spirit, all those bootleggers of contraband ideas who thumb their noses at the black-shirted guards of narrow logic. —Michel Leiris