Project Gutenberg · 58, free ebooks · 6 by J.-K. Huysmans. Against the Grain by J.-K. Huysmans. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. Against the Grain, novel by Joris-Karl Huysmans, published in French as À rebours in It was also translated into English as Against Nature. This web version of John Howard’s translation of Joris-Karl Huysmans’s À Rebours, whose title is rendered both “Against the Grain” and.
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Oscar Aggainst declared that it was what inspired him to write The Picture of Dorian Gray and, though it remains unnamed, it is clearly recognizable as the yellow-bound book Dorian reads over and over again with unwavering admiration. Wilde was not the only one who saw a kindred spirit in Huysmans: Against the Grain is still considered the embodiment of the Decadent aesthetics.
Yet at first glance it is rather difficult to see why this book should have exerted such a powerful fascination over its readers. Its hero, the thirty-year-old duke Jean des Esseintes, is sickly, neurotic, asocial, and misogynistic. Moreover, there is no plot whatsoever: At the end of the novel, after spending six months or so living as a recluse, his health deteriorates to such an extent that the doctor orders him to return to Paris.
Against the Grain | work by Huysmans |
With equal passion, he endorses not merely what is luxurious, but what graln aristocratic, rare, and able to be appreciated only by a handful of fortunate initiates endowed with the same highly-refined aesthetic sense.
Des Esseintes postulates that the same climate of elegant decay, the same rank, gamey smell of refined degeneracy permeates the upper classes of the end of the nineteenth century, affecting not just their mores, but their artistic achievements.
Far from condemning this trend, des Esseintes sees in it a source of ineffable charm. Yet, as biased as his opinions are, they are at least consistent.
It is as an art critic, however, that Huysmans is at his very best, in my opinion. Two, in particular, occupy a special place in his affections: I had never seen the paintings in question, yet as I read the passage describing them I could see them take shape before my eyes, I could see the colours spring vividly to life as if from the brush of the painter himself, and the figures, far from being frozen in stylized poses, were swept away in a whirlwind of energy, were endowed with movement, emotion, and intent.
Naturally, a great deal must be attributed to the genius of the artist, but just as much is owed to the writer capable, not only of rendering the impression made upon him, but of seizing the imagination of the reader and rendering in words the unique vision of the painter. I read those pages with a sensual pleasure that could not be satisfied with a single tasting, but had to go back and repeat the experience a second, and even a third, time, and each time I marveled the more.
The book is worth reading for those pages alone! Several other episodes stand out in the novel: Another famous episode is the one in which des Esseintes decides something living is needed to emphasize the colours of the carpet in his study and buys an enormous turtle, which he then turns into a living jewel by having its shell gilded and incrusted with precious gems. Needless to say, the poor animal does not survive long: If I have a single reproach, a single regret, it is that Huysmans did not devote as much time and attention to the subject of music as he did to that of literature.
There is a chapter, towards the very end of the book, in which des Esseintes talks of his tastes in music, and extols the beauty of Gregorian chant over all other sacred music, but you can tell that Huysmans has less patience with this particular topic, and his analysis is sketchy, as if he wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. It is a minor disappointment, however, when compared to the rest of this varied, highly accomplished work….
À rebours – Wikipedia
The only thing that may appear slightly offputting to some readers of Huysmans is the nauseating narcissism of the main character — although we can agree that this uhysman been created, fictionally, with intent. Do you remember the scenes describing the gruesome phallic plants? How ghastly they were, and how captivating at once! I have been talking huysmwn little else for uuysman past week, and my father, who is the main person at the receiving end of my effusions, is growing a little weary!
I also disliked all the passages on his illness, and the wealth of details he shares about his gastric system. When Art kills the Artist gabriel’s wharf. I studied the Decadent period as part of my first degree, many years ago, but I only remember parts in isolation.
I agree with you about re-reading setwork books: You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Twitter account.
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Enter your huysmman address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Facebook Twitter Email Print. About Miss Darcy’s Library I love books – buying books, reading books, discussing books, and generally admiring them from all angles except the e-book.
I also love tea, roses, and my dogs, and seldom pass up an opportunity to slip them into the conversation. March 15, at 9: March 15, at 2: April 8, at 7: Miss Darcy’s Library says: April 9, at Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Email required Aainst never made public. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. Post was not sent – check your email addresses! Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.
Against The Grain, or Against Nature