Les résumés
des communications de la session intitulée NERVAL REVISITED,
dans le cadre du Twenty-Ninth Annual Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium qui se tiendra à The University of Arizona, Tucson, entre le 23 et le 25 octobre 2003.

1) “Community, Wandering and the Bohemian in Gérard de Nerval” Aimee Kilbane, University of California, Santa Barbara

Bohemian subculture in nineteenth-century Paris was characterized by its resistance to the bourgeois world’s commitment to conformity, industry, and capitalist exchange. Nerval’s writings reflect both the community and the
isolation that resulted from the rejection of bourgeois values. Works such as Petits châteaux de Bohême and La Bohême galante nostalgically describe the community of romantic artists of Nerval’s youth, while Voyage en Orient,
Promenades et souvenirs, Les Nuits d’octobre point to Nerval’s compulsion to wander, both within Paris and abroad. To travel in this way is to make oneself foreign, which served to accentuate Nerval’s dissociation from the dominant culture and enabled him to inhabit the outsider’s position. I will examine Nerval’s contribution to the image of the bohemian, the paradox of this subculture typified by both a camaraderie of outsiders and the need to escape, as well as the appeal of travel linked to unsettling changes occurring at home.

2) “Writing into silence,” Jonathan Strauss (Miami University)

This paper examines a paradox in the use of language, which structures the relation between individuality and expression and is acute in Nerval, because of the isolating effect of his madness. Few authors would seem as changeable, in their style, existence or persona. Yet Nerval was deeply troubled by the impossibility of change and by a totalizing, hyperbolic subjectivity reminiscent of the worst criticisms directed at Hegel’s hegemonic and panlogistic world-historical subject. This world without another rightly horrified Nerval, for inside it new knowledge or genuine change was impossible. His response to Janin’s “epitaph” reveals his fear that he would never again be able to “me faire écouter sérieusement.” Is change possible if others will not listen? Nerval brings us to this paradox: there are no others unless they answer us, but in answering, they are no longer others. It is around this crux, I argue, that Nerval’s madness turns.

3) “Nerval et la science du souvenir,” Evelyne Ender, Harvard University

Walter Benjamin a démontré, à travers Baudelaire et Proust, que la modernité est marquée par la recherche de signifiants de l’expérience et donc par la remémoration. Nerval préfigure ce changement en révolutionnant la conception de la mémoire subjective.Mais l’apport nervalien n’est pas que culturel, il est également scientifique.
La lecture de Sylvie ainsi comment l’écriture de Nerval préfigure les découvertes récentes sur la mémoire affective en psychologie et neurologie. Le texte présente en effet de façon exemplaire comment la construction de scènes mnésiques permet le déploiement d’une mémoire devenue le fondement même d’une ressaisie de la subjectivité. L’on comprend mieux alors pourquoi la « recomposition du souvenir » propre à Sylvie acquiert une fonction thérapeutique. En résumé, en écrivant Nerval ne fait pas que soigner sa folie, il offre les premières esquisses d’une psychologie de l’imagination annonçant les découvertes de chercheurs tels qu’Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio ou Jean-Pierre Changeux.