Monday, July 5, 2010

I know that JYA has technically ended, but Rob asked me to share one of my Parisian adventures. i.e. the laying of the ceremonial plastic lobster on the tomb of Gerard de Nerval. Gerard de Nerval is one of my favorite Romantic poets. He translated Goethe's Faust when he was twenty and was one of the main figures of the Romantic movement, as well as a direct inspiration for the surrealist movement. He is most famous, however, for having a pet lobster, Thibault, which he walked around Paris. As he explained to his best friend, Gautier, "En quoi un homard est-il plus ridicule qu’un chien, qu’un chat, qu’une gazelle, qu’un lion ou toute autre bête dont on se fait suivre ? J’ai le goût des homards, qui sont tranquilles, sérieux, savent les secrets de la mer, n’aboient pas...."


"Why would a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog, or a cat, or a gazelle or a lion, or any other animal one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters, they are tranquil, serious creatures who know the secrets of the deep and don't bark....."

In honor of this, I bought a plastic lobster and put it, and the quote, on his grave and then hung around to see what would happen. What happened was that a tour guide stopped in the middle of his explanation of who Balzac was (Balzac's grave is just across from de Nerval's) to exclaim, "Oh la, il y a un homard!" He returned to his Balzac presentation, but after that, he deviated from his program to explain why there was a lobster on de Nerval's grave:

I feel quite pleased with myself; I've given something truly original to a city that allowed me to love the works of such an original poet.