The Salt Smugglers

      Gerard de Nerval
The Salt Smugglers

First published as a feuilleton in a left-wing newspaper in 1850, The Salt Smugglers provides a political satire of the waning days of France's short-lived Second Republic. With nods to Diderot and Sterne, this shaggy-dog story deals less with contraband salt smugglers than with the subversive power of fiction to transgress legal and esthetic boundaries. By writing what he claimed was a purely documentary account of his picaresque adventures in search of an elusive book recording the true history of a certain seventeenth-century swashbuckler, Nerval sought to deride the press censors of the day who forbade the serial publication of novels in newspapers -- and in the process he provocatively deconstructed existing distinctions between fact and fiction. Never before translated into English and still unavailable as a separately published volume in French, The Salt Smugglers is a pre-postmodern gem of experimental prose. Richard Sieburth's vibrant translation and illuminating...


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