Against Nature: Joris-Karl Huysmans (Penguin Classics)

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Against Nature: Joris-Karl Huysmans (Penguin Classics)

Against Nature: Joris-Karl Huysmans (Penguin Classics)

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This leads him to take a brief, unplanned sojourn to England, where he soaks in the atmosphere of some local pubs and cafes, only to find that the exotic ideals of his imagination give way to yet another sordid and wanting reality. He is an eccentric, reclusive, ailing aesthete and the last representative of an aristocratic family. The basic premise is that Des Esseintes, the novel’s anti-hero, has become so disillusioned with modern society and the pettiness of those around him that he decides to hole himself up in a rural French mansion, cut off from everyone, and dedicate himself to the pursuit of sensation. In other words, I couldn’t imagine that a 1950s translation could be as decadent as the original, given the goings-on at the time in the US/UK. The Yellow Scale," which depicts an amazingly burnt out aesthetic type, wrapped up in a yellow robe, yellow book (of course) in one hand, and cigarette burning out in his other limp, yellow hand.

Then he had kept mistresses already famed for their depravity, and helped to swell the funds of those agencies which supply dubious pleasures for a consideration. There is no central romance, no big cliffhanger, no dramatic build to draw the unsophisticated reader into the narrative. Like Durtal in La Bas (and later, as I understand it, in his Catholic trilogy), he is seeking an intellectual and aesthetic escape into a mythic or at least mythologized past, where things must have been better, where the problems Huysmans’ ciphers and masks of the projected self struggle with would never have existed. What I’m going to do now is shut up and show you a paragraph from the book’s prologue (written by Huysmans after the original publication), which prologue summarizes Des Esseintes’s rise and fall. It essentially aspired to separate literature and art from the materialistic preoccupations of industrialized society, and morals being of secondary concern, if at all, led to the depiction of such depravities, and A Rebours was one of those books.However, when they met in July, Zola told Huysmans that the book had been a "terrible blow to Naturalism" and accused him of "leading the school astray" and "burning [his] boats with such a book", claiming that "no type of literature was possible in this genre, exhausted by a single volume". Evil Stole My Faith: Courtesy of the pessimism of Schopenhauer, des Esseintes rejects belief in God for this reason, proclaiming: "If a God has made this world, I would not like to be that God, for the misery of the world would break my heart. The sociopath cannibal has his mental palace stuffed full of fine art, through which he walks in his imagination. He had tasted the sweets of the flesh like a crotchety invalid with a craving for food but a palate which soon becomes jaded.

It is largely plotless, and largely chronicles his aesthetic tastes, musings on literature, religion, paintings, and hyperaesthetic sensory experiences.

It is widely believed that À rebours is the "poisonous French novel" that leads to the downfall of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. The one area I do strongly disagree with des Esseintes on is the apparent centrality to the novel of his distaste for nature (an assertion incidentally disproven by his delight in flora, however unusual or bizarre the specimens he selects) and his polemicizing over artificiality. I knew what to expect going in, and was only pleasantly surprised at just how enjoyable an experience it proved to be. However, he certainly likes them fancy duds, to judge by some of the descriptions - "suits of white velvet with gold-laced waistcoasts," for example.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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