Novelist/playwright Gerard de Nerval is best known for his celebrated eccentricities, which included dragging a pet lobster through Paris on a leash of blue ribbons. ("It is the perfect pet," he declared, "It knows the mysteries of the sea and, of course, it doesn't bark.") Written shortly before his suicide in 1855, "Aurelia" represents Nerval's attempts to report and organize a series of vivid dreams and/or hallucinations, in which he saw a cosmic significance: "I have never experienced sleep as mere repose. After a few minutes' lethargy, a new life begins, untrammeled by time and space, and undoubtedly similar to that which awaits us after death." These broken fragments offer an intriguing vision of a disturbed but acute intellect.
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