First Edition Identification : Emile Nelligan et son Oeuvre



First Edition of the Poems of the great Émile Nelligan, one of the most celebrated and admired of Canada’s nineteenth-century poets. He had only a brief career as a young poet, but produced some remarkable poems. Nelligan was born in Montreal on December 24, 1879 . A follower of Symbolism, his poetry was profoundly influenced by Octave Crémazie, Louis Fréchette, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Georges Rodenbach, Maurice Rollinat and Edgar Allan Poe. A precocious talent like Arthur Rimbaud, his first poems were published in Montreal when he was 16 years old. In 1899, Nelligan suffered a major psychotic breakdown from which he never recovered. He never had a chance to finish his first poetry work which was to be entitled Le Récital des Anges according to his last notes.


EMILE NELLIGAN ET SON OEUVRE First edition identification and notes

The first edition of this work was published in 1903 with the mention "Montreal 1903" on title page. While Nelligan's father did not approve of Nelligan’s devotion to poetry (and his refusal to enter into a more standard profession), Nelligan found a good friend and mentor in Louis Dantin, whose real name is Eugène Seers (1865-1945). Dantin, about twice Nelligan’s age, was a priest who was also devoted to poetry. Dantin encouraged Nelligan before he was institutionalized; and while many of Nelligan’s friends helped to publish some of his poems after he was removed from society, it was Dantin who collected Nelligan’s poems and produced this first book publication of selected poems in 1903. Dantin’s book includes a biographical portrait of Nelligan that celebrates Nelligan in glowing terms and has contributed to his legacy as a troubled, romantic figure.

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