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Emile Nelligan

Birthdate: (61)
Birthplace: Montreal, Montreal, Québec, Canada
Death: November 18, 1941 (61)
Montreal, Montreal, Québec, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of David Nelligan and Émilie-Amanda Nelligan
Brother of Beatrice Gurtrude Nelligan; Béatrice-Eva Nelligan and Gertrude-Frieda Nelligan

Occupation: Poet, Francophone poet
Managed by: Melissa King
Last Updated:

About Emile Nelligan

Émile Nelligan French-Canadian Documentary on Youtube

Source:Emile Nelligan

1. "Émile Nelligan, interné parce que gai?" Désautels, January 14, 2011.

2. a b c d Gaëtan Dostie, "Nelligan et de Bussières créés par Dantin ?". Le Patriote. Republished by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society of Montreal, July 22, 2015.

3. Émile J. Talbot, Reading Nelligan. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002. ISBN 0773523189.

4. "L’imposture Nelligan". L'actualité, November 14, 2014.

In English

Jacques Michon. "Émile Nelligan Biography (1879–1941)", in Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction, 2009 Nina Milner. "Émile Nelligan (1879-1941)", in Canadian Poetry Archive, November 28, 2003 Talbot, Emile (2002). Reading Nelligan, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 221 p. ISBN 0-7735-2318-9 Fred Cogswell (1983). The Complete Poems of Émile Nelligan, Montréal: Harvest House, 120 p. ISBN 0-88772-218-0 P.F. Widdows (1960). Selected Poems by Émile Nelligan, Toronto: Ryerson, 39 p.

In French

On his work and life

Sui Caedere, "Thrène" (2009). Music album is a tribute to Quebec’s damned poet Émile Nelligan, a man who saw beyond the dream, beyond the paradox of life. Contains 9 haunting tracks. Lemieux, Pierre Hervé (2004). Nelligan et Françoise : l'intrigue amoureuse la plus singulière de la fin du 19e siècle québécois : biographie reconstituée à l'occasion du centième anniversiare de la publication du recueil de poésie d'Émile Nelligan, 1904-2004, Lévis: Fondation littéraire Fleur de lys, 537 p. ISBN 2-89612-025-4 Wyczynski, Paul (2002). Album Nelligan : une biographie en images, Saint-Laurent: Fides, 2002, 435 pages ISBN 2-7621-2191-4 Wyczynski, Paul (1999). Émile Nelligan : biographie, Saint-Laurent: Bibliothèque Québécoise, 1999, 345 p. ISBN 2-89406-150-1 (édition originale : Nelligan, 1879-1941, Montréal: Fides, 1987) Beausoleil, Claude. "Émile Nelligan et le temps", in Nuit blanche, numero 74, Spring 1999 Beaudoin, Réjean (1997). Une Étude des Poésies d'Émile Nelligan, Montréal: Boréal, 106 p. Vanasse, André (1996). Émile Nelligan, le spasme de vivre, Montréal: XYZ, 201 p. ISBN 2-89261-179-2 (biographie romancée) Lemieux, Pierre H. "La nouvelle édition critique de Nelligan", in Lettres québécoises, numero 66, Summer 1992 Whitfield, Agnès (1988). "Nelligan, de l'homme à l'œuvre", in Lettres québécoises, numéro 49, Spring 1988 Bertrand, Réal (1980). Émile Nelligan, Montréal: Lidec, 62 p. ISBN 2-7608-3249-X Wyczynski, Paul (1973). Bibliographie descriptive et critique d'Emile Nelligan, Ottawa : Editions de l'Université d'Ottawa, 319 p. ISBN 0-7766-3951-X Wyczynski, Paul (1965). Poésie et symbole : perspectives du symbolisme : Emile Nelligan, Saint-Denys Garneau, Anne Hébert : le langage des arbres, Montréal: Librairie Déom, 252 p. Wyczynski, Paul (1960). Émile Nelligan : sources et originalité de son oeuvre, Ottawa: Éditions de l'Université d'Ottawa, 349 p.


From CollectionsCanada:

Émile Nelligan, an outstanding turn-of-the-century writer, is French-Canada’s most beloved and admired poet. A romantic figure whose literary career was tragically short-lived, Nelligan ushered French-Canadian poetry into the modern age.

Nelligan was born in Montreal on Christmas Eve, 1879. His parents, who had a troubled marriage, embodied the two solitudes of Canada. His father, David Nelligan, was an Irish immigrant with little appreciation for French-Canadian language or culture. His work as a postal inspector necessitated frequent absences from home. Nelligan’s mother, Émilie-Amanda Hudon Nelligan was a French Canadian who was musically talented, proud of her culture and heritage and a devout Catholic. Except for summer vacations with his family in the village of Cacouna, Quebec in the Gaspé peninsula, and a short trip to Europe, Nelligan spent his entire life in Montreal.

Nelligan’s academic career was undistinguished. In 1896, at the age of 17, he entered the Collège Sainte-Marie, where he proved to be a mediocre student, preferring instead to immerse himself in the study and writing of poetry. In 1897, against his parents’ wishes, he abandoned his studies to pursue his poetry. He was actively writing verses and could envision no other profession for himself.

In 1896, he met his mentor and future editor, the priest Eugène Seers (later called Louis Dantin) and Joseph Melançon, who introduced Nelligan to the literary circles of Montreal. Under the pseudonym Émile Kovar, he published his first poem "Rêve fantasque" in Le Samedi (June 13, 1896). By September of that year, eight more of his poems had appeared in local papers and journals such as Le Monde Illustré and Alliance nationale . Nelligan’s poems showed a remarkable sensitivity to the power of words and the music of language and were tinged with melancholy and nostalgia. By 1897, poems appeared for the first time in Le Monde Illustré and La Patrie under his real name, which was sometimes modified to "Nellighan" or "Nelighan".

In 1897, Nelligan was invited by his friend, Arthur de Bussières, to join the recently founded École Littéraire de Montréal, a circle of young writers and intellectuals who met weekly to discuss the arts. Begun in 1895 by students concerned by what they perceived to be the deteriorating state of the French language, the group soon attracted the most interesting and dynamic writers of the day. During several meetings, the young Nelligan read his poetry with deep feeling. Nelligan envisioned himself as a poet in the romantic tradition, and he certainly looked the part, with his dark Byronic good looks, large expressive eyes and distant, pensive air.

In 1898, Nelligan’s father sent him on a sea voyage to Liverpool and Belfast, the details of which remain unclear, but it is thought that the elder Nelligan attempted to enlist Émile in the Merchant Marine. Later that year, his father arranged employment for him as a bookkeeper. These positions came to naught, however, for much to his father’s annoyance, the artistic Nelligan resolved to devote himself to poetry. Often, he would escape to his friend de Brussière's attic to read and work, and he continued to publish his poems in local papers and journals.

At this time, L’École Littéraire de Montréal initiated a series of public readings in which Nelligan performed. In a reading on May 26, 1899, he fervently recited his poem "La Romance du vin", an impassioned reply to detractors of poetry. The audience responded with a resounding ovation, and Nelligan was carried home in triumph. Unfortunately, this, his finest hour as a poet, was to be his last public appearance. A short time later, on August 9, 1899, the ever-fragile thread of his sanity snapped, and he was confined to the Saint-Benoît asylum, exhibiting signs of derangement. Nelligan remained at Saint-Benoît for 25 years, after which he was transferred to the Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Hospital. During his years of confinement, Nelligan continued to write, but he had lost the capacity to create a body of work and spent his time rewriting his earlier poems from memory. He remained in hospital until his death on November 18, 1941.

Émile Nelligan’s body of work comprises some 170 poems, sonnets, rondels, songs and prose poems. Astonishingly, these were all written when he was between the ages of 16 and 19. Nelligan had published only 23 poems before his incarceration, but in 1904, thanks to the diligence of his friend Louis Dantin and with his mother’s help, 107 poems were published in Émile Nelligan et son oeuvre with a preface by Dantin. Three subsequent editions were published in 1925, 1932 and 1945. In 1952, Luc Lacourcière compiled a comprehensive edition of Nelligan’s poems, entitled Poésies complètes : 1869-1899, containing the 107 poems gathered together by Dantin and additional poems that Nelligan had written before his hospitalization and that had been sent to friends or found among his papers. This edition has been reprinted several times, most recently in 1989.

Émile Nelligan was a pioneer of French-Canadian literature. In his poetry, he threw off the time-worn subjects of patriotism and fidelity to the land that had so occupied his literary predecessors, and explored the symbolic possibilities of language and his own, dark, inner landscape. Although his writing was influenced by symbolist poets such as Charles-Pierre Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud and English-language writers such as Lord Byron and Edgar Allan Poe, Nelligan created a poetic sensibility that was uniquely his own. In so doing, he struck a chord of recognition with French Canada that remains to this day, for his work continues to be celebrated. His poems have been translated into English, and he is the subject of numerous colloquia, films, novels, poems, and a ballet and an opera. A hundred years after he created his last poem, the poetic vision of Émile Nelligan endures.

Biography by: Nina Milner Canadian Literature Research Service

From Wikipedia:

Émile Nelligan (December 24, 1879 – November 18, 1941) was a francophone poet from Quebec, Canada.

Nelligan was born in Montreal on December 24, 1879 at 602, rue de La Gauchetière. He was the first son of David Nelligan, who arrived in Quebec from Dublin, Ireland at the age of 12. His mother was Émilie Amanda Hudon, from Rimouski, Quebec. He had two sisters, Béatrice and Gertrude.

A follower of Symbolism, he produced poetry 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, he published his first poems in Montreal at the age of 16.

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 - according to his last notes - he would have entitled Le Récital des Anges.

At the time, rumor and speculation suggested that he went insane because of the vast cultural and language differences between his mother and father. In recent years, however, a number of literary critics have postulated that Nelligan was gay and suffered from inner conflict between his sexuality and his religious upbringing. This notion lacks ready confirmation, as biographical sources contain no record of Nelligan having had any sexual or romantic relationships during his lifetime.

In 1903, his collected poems were published to great acclaim in Canada. He may not have been aware that he was counted among French Canada's greatest poets.

On his passing in 1941, Nelligan was interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal, Quebec. Following his death, the public became increasingly interested in Nelligan. His incomplete work spawned a kind of romantic legend. He was first translated into English in 1960 by P.F. Widdows. In 1983, Fred Cogswell translated all his poems in The Complete Poems of Émile Nelligan.

Nelligan is considered one of the greatest poets of French Canada. Several schools and libraries in Quebec are named after him, and Hotel Nelligan is a four-star hotel in Old Montreal at the corner of Rue St. Paul and Rue St. Sulpice.

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Emile Nelligan's Timeline

1879
December 24, 1879
Montreal, Montreal, Québec, Canada
1941
November 18, 1941
Age 61
Montreal, Montreal, Québec, Canada