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Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848–1907)

Author of Against Nature

106+ Works 6,427 Members 117 Reviews 51 Favorited

About the Author


Works by Joris-Karl Huysmans

Against Nature (1884) 3,485 copies
La-Bas (Down There) (1891) 1,336 copies
With the Flow (1882) 212 copies
The Cathedral (1898) 181 copies
En Route (1895) 175 copies
Becalmed (1887) 144 copies
Marthe: The Story of a Whore (1876) 101 copies
Parisian Sketches (1880) 86 copies
The Oblate of St. Benedict (1903) 73 copies
Saint Lydwine of Schiedam (1979) 53 copies
Grünewald (1958) 44 copies
Living Together (1881) 43 copies
The Vatard Sisters (1879) 40 copies
A Dilemma (1998) 39 copies
The Crowds of Lourdes (1906) 32 copies
Knapsacks (2008) 21 copies
Monsieur Bougran in Pension (1984) 21 copies
Romans et nouvelles (2019) 20 copies
Sac au dos ; À vau l'eau (2007) 14 copies
Down Stream and Other Works (1927) 12 copies
Gilles de Rais (2007) 11 copies
Grünewald (1951) 11 copies
Voorkeuren (2001) 11 copies
En ménage - À vau-l'eau (1975) 10 copies
De Bièvre (1983) 8 copies
In Holland (2001) 8 copies
A Dish of Spices (1874) 6 copies
Paris (1994) 5 copies
Romans : Tome 1 (1656) 5 copies
Naruby (1991) 5 copies
L'art moderne. Certains (1992) 4 copies
Pages choisies 3 copies
Racconti 3 copies
Liturghia neagră (2003) 2 copies
Oeuvres complètes (2020) 2 copies
La Cathédrale. Tome II (2015) 2 copies
În răspăr 2 copies
Trois primitifs (2016) 2 copies
À propos (2005) 2 copies
Tersine 2 copies
Don Bosco 2 copies
Chartres 1 copy
Magie im Poitou. (1996) 1 copy
Soltanto qualcuno (2018) 1 copy

Associated Works

A Documentary History of Art, Volume 3 (1966) — Contributor — 152 copies
The Dedalus Book of French Horror: The 19th Century (1998) — Contributor — 81 copies
Wolf's Complete Book of Terror (1979) — Contributor — 74 copies
De avonden te Médan (1880) — Author — 49 copies
The Second Dedalus Book of Decadence the Black Feast (1992) — Contributor — 47 copies
The Garden of Hermetic Dreams (2004) — Contributor — 33 copies
The Graphic Work of Felicien Rops (1968) — Contributor — 29 copies
The Body and the Dream - French Erotic Fiction 1464-1900 (1983) — Contributor — 21 copies
The Magicians: Occult Stories (1972) — Contributor — 18 copies
Decadence and Symbolism: A Showcase Anthology (2018) — Contributor — 8 copies
Stories of Scarlet Women (1962) — Contributor — 5 copies
Le Satanisme et la Magie (1895) — Introduction — 3 copies


1001 (35) 1001 books (31) 19th century (281) 19th century literature (25) aestheticism (24) anthology (82) art (69) art history (26) classic (39) classics (41) decadence (313) decadent (44) ebook (25) fiction (615) fin de siecle (70) France (171) French (264) French fiction (46) French literature (430) history (25) horror (50) Huysmans (45) Joris-Karl Huysmans (26) Kindle (30) literature (247) non-fiction (24) novel (249) occult (47) Paris (38) Penguin Classics (30) poetry (49) read (46) religion (27) Roman (59) Satanism (41) short stories (39) symbolism (25) to-read (318) translation (40) unread (25)

Common Knowledge



‘Do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.’

A gloriously decadent piece of literature that spreads its rancour across all five senses. However, it certainly isn’t as evil as Wilde made it out to be - Des Esseintes is just a feeble misanthrope clinging onto antiquity. This work kind of struck me as a 19th century version of Ellis’ American Psycho to the extent that there are pages upon pages of vacuous minutiae concerning exotic plants, meticulous lighting, various perfumes etc. - I will be the first to admit that that is a crude analogy, but it works.

The exaggerated advocacy for the artificial over Nature found in here was also appreciated, serving as a spit in the face against the exsanguinated prose of Naturalism that was all the rage at the time of the book’s inception. It’s difficult to know whether to take it as Huysman’s own bitter condemnation of the Naturalist school of thought he had just left or as a fully fledged, detached satire. Either way it’s worth the price of admission just for the literary criticism of Baudelaire, Mallarmé and Poe that is strewn throughout. On top of these three figures there are also a whole litany of forgotten Christian and secular authors, giving ample material to the prospective reader to create a reading list that’s well off of the beaten path.
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theoaustin | 71 other reviews | May 19, 2023 |
"Infatti, quando il tempo in cui l'uomo di talento si trova forzato a vivere è stupido e piatto, l'artista, anche a propria insaputa, è assillato dalla nostalgia di un altro secolo".

Ci sono libri che giungono come meteore nel percorso di un lettore e così è per me ora con À rebours, di fatto ignorato fino a ora e arrivato quasi per caso. Non solo decadentismo: un viaggio che potrebbe essere senza fine (in fondo il libro è breve, purtroppo) dalla superficie alla profondità delle cose, in cerca dell'essenza, guidati dalla mania, dal dettaglio. Quanto diavolo in questo libro! Un caleidoscopio di parole, una continua sorpresa. Un libro assolutamente fuori moda, che ricorda quanto manca un po' di Des Esseintes alla nostra vita quotidiana.… (more)
d.v. | 71 other reviews | May 16, 2023 |
While I’m told Huysmans’ À rebours (Against Nature) is considered a jewel of Decadent literature, it’s not clear if this novel is a work of Decadent fiction.

If I’m understanding its definition, Decadent literature, in its English and French varieties, portrays the present as decaying and advocates for enjoying the long fall of civilization with sex and drugs and outré experiences.

This novel votes yes on the decaying society part and no on the pursuit of strange aesthetic pleasures. Rather, it postulates that decay brings mysticism to the fore, and here that mysticism takes on two strains: Catholicism and Satanism.

"It is just at the moment when positivism is at its zenith that mysticism rises again and the follies of the occult begin."

After À rebours was published, that Huysmans was going to have to eventually chose between “the muzzle of a pistol and the foot of the Cross”. Huysmans would eventually choose the latter, ending up as a Benedictine monk. This considered one of the great novels of “literary Satanism”, but Catholics of a conservative bent (it was one who recommended this book to me) also admire the Durtal trilogy.

Durtal’s progression from Decadent to monk is paralleled by three Huysmann novels featuring the writer Durtal, generally considered to be Huysman’s alter ego. Là-Bas is the first of that trilogy.

Durtal’s newest project is a biography of the infamous Gilles de Rais, French noblemen, defender and champion of Joan of Arc, Marshal of France – and raper, torturer, and killer of hundreds of children. The puzzle Durtal seeks to answer is why Rais, “a brave captain and a good Christian, all of a sudden became a sacrilegious sadist and a coward”. The novel will present the story of Rais throughout and conclude with Durtal’s ideas on the Marshal’s motivations.

Durtal’s friend, Dr. Des Hermies, is a man of amazing learning and equally broad cynicism. He doesn’t have a lot of faith in modern medicine or “alienists”. It’s not his peers he likes to hang out with but “astrologers, cabbalists, demonologists, alchemists, theologians, or inventors”.

Durtal is similar.

“I learned long ago that there are no people interesting to know except saints, scoundrels, and cranks. They are the only persons whose conversation amounts to anything. Persons of good sense are necessarily dull, because they revolve over and over again the tedious topics of everyday life. They are the crowd, more or less intelligent, but they are the crowd, and they give me a pain.

As for their conversations, well, both men believe “Conversations which do not treat of religion or art are so base and vain”.

And there is a lot of talk about art and religion in this book including the art of bellringing and the symbols of church bells (material supplied by Hermies’ friend Carhaix, a devout Catholic and poor bellringer who also just happens to be an expert in heraldry), demon possessions, “alienist” explanations of said possessions, medicine, Paracelsus, a Third Kingdom of God proposed by a Catholic mystic, miraculous healing, and poisons. I have no idea how many things presented are real and how many are Huysmans’ inventions.
And there is a
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1 vote
RandyStafford | 28 other reviews | Nov 1, 2022 |
Another brilliant masterpiece by one of my new favourite authors.
stiankj | 28 other reviews | Aug 28, 2022 |



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Brendan King Translator
Hubert Juin Preface
Robert Baldick Translator
Terry Hale Introduction, Translator
Havelock Ellis Introduction
Camillo Sbarbaro Translator
Odilon Redon Illustrator
Antti Nylén Translator
Patrick McGuinness Introduction
Hans Jacob Translator
John Howard Translator
Arthur Zaidenberg Illustrator
Carlo Bo Foreword
Ugo Dèttore Translator
Fabrizio Ascari Translator
Felicien Rops Illustrator
Gustav Gugitz Translator
Keene Wallace Translator
Manfred Ach Afterword
Andrew Brown Translator
David Blow Introduction
Josè Del Real Translator
André Dignimont Illustrator
W. H. Mitchell Translator
Samuel Putnam Translator


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