Against Nature (Penguin Classics) by Joris-Karl Huysmans, Patrick McGuinness

By Joris-Karl Huysmans, Patrick McGuinness

The hero of this curious novel is des Esseintes, a neurasthenic aristocrat who has grew to become his again at the vulgarity of recent existence and retreated to an remoted state villa. the following, observed in simple terms through a few silent servants, he pursues his obsessions with unique flora, infrequent gemstones, and intricate perfumes and embarks on a chain of more and more unusual aesthetic experiments, beginning with the choice to offer his immense puppy tortoise a jewel-encrusted shell...

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Not for him the rounded education, the balanced mind and healthy body. His tastes are for the quirky, the difficult, the outrageous. He savours the Latin Decadents, he enjoys the sense of the language losing its clarity, becoming complex and strange, ‘a pagan tongue as it decomposed like venison, dropping to pieces’. Des Esseintes is also impotent, and, like his creator, a misogynist. 18 Des Esseintes has sought ever richer, more dazzling and dangerous pleasures; ever more eccentric, artificial or stage-managed sexual encounters – his literary and artistic tastes are exclusive and his sexual tastes eclectic.

1862 Huysmans enrols at the Lycée Saint-Louis. 1864 First sexual experiences with prostitutes. 1866 7 Mar. Huysmans passes baccalauréat. 1866 1 Apr. a. 1866 Autumn Enrols in the Faculties of Law and Letters of the University of Paris. 1867 8 Sept. Death of stepfather. 1868 15 Aug. a. 1870 30 July Mobilized in the 6th Battalion of the Garde Mobile during the Franco-Prussian War. Dysentery prevents him from seeing action. 1870 15 Aug. a. 1871 Feb. The Government and its staff relocate to Versailles.

ON HUYSMANS Baldick, Robert, The Life of J. K. Huysmans (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955). , The Image of Huysmans (New York: AMS Press, 1990). ), The Road from Decadence: From Brothel to Cloister. Selected Letters of J. K. Huysmans (London: Athlone, 1989). Borie, Jean, Huysmans: Le Diable, le célibataire et Dieu (Paris: Grasset, 1991). -K. Huysmans à la recherche de l’unité (Paris: Nizet, 1953). -K. Huysmans (Paris: Gallimard/Foliothèque, 1996). Huneker, James Gibbons, ‘The Pessimist’s Progress’, in Egoists: A Book of Supermen (New York: Scribner, 1909).

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