Australian Journal of French Studies

Translating Friendship: Nerval, Tessié du Motay, and Heine’s Die Nordsee

Australian Journal of French Studies (2020), 57, (1), 78–92.

Abstract

Gérard de Nerval is well known for his translations of German poetry, and particularly for his 1848 publication of Die Nordsee by Heinrich Heine. What is less well known is that Nerval and Heine were both closely connected to an aspiring young poet, Cyprien-Marie Tessié du Motay, who also completed a French translation of Die Nordsee in the mid-1840s. Tessié’s literary career was not pursued beyond that period, which cast something of a veil over his identity. We have sought to resolve this issue by tracing a brief portrait of his colourful life. We have then analyzed his text in parallel with that of Nerval and with reference to Heine’s original verse. This leads us to conclude that his version is not to be lightly dismissed. We also argue that the act of friendship it represents illustrates the fertile exchanges that were a feature of the dynamic literary scene of Paris in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Author details

FORNASIERO, JEAN

WEST-SOOBY, JOHN