Thursday, June 22

Did Gerard de Nerval walk his pet lobster through Paris?

"Legend has it that the 19th-century French Romantic poet Gérard de Nerval (1808-1855) had a pet lobster named Thibault that he took on walks in the Palais Royal gardens of Paris, using a blue silk ribbon as a leash. When asked why he did this, he replied: Why should a lobster be any more ridiculous than a dog? Or a cat, or a gazelle, or a lion, or any other animal that one chooses to take for a walk? I have a liking for lobsters. They are peaceful, serious creatures. ... In other words, the lobster that Nerval walked was a symbolic lobster, not a real one. Nerval, [Mark] Dery notes, was 'a fervent scholar of the occult,' and lobsters have special significance in some occult sources, such as Tarot cards. For instance, the Moon card shows a lobster crawling out of a pool onto dry land, up a path guarded by two dogs (or a dog and a wolf) toward the full moon. The lobster, in this setting, could be interpreted as a symbol of the animal self struggling toward enlightenment. ..."
Harpers - Nerval: A Man and His Lobster
New Yorker: Lobsters and Lies
Nerval's Lobster By Mark Dery
Gérard de Nerval – the man who walked lobsters – fallen stars
The Man Who Loved Lobster

2007 December: Gerard De Nerval, 2010 March: Robin Blaser - Les Chimeres, 2016 June: Voyage to the Orient (1851), 2017 March: Selected Writings of Gerard De Nerval (1957)