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Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans

Against Nature (original 1884; edition 2011)

by Joris-Karl Huysmans, John Howard (Translator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,743573,190 (3.78)139
Title:Against Nature
Authors:Joris-Karl Huysmans
Other authors:John Howard (Translator)
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2011), Paperback, 136 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

Work details

Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans (1884)

  1. 70
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (roby72, Zeeko, JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Wie in Wikipedia zu 'Gegen den Strich' beschrieben: "Ein französischer Roman, der den Protagonisten in Oscar Wildes Roman Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray zu dekadenten Ausschweifungen inspiriert, wird häufig als Anspielung auf À rebours gedeutet. Wilde war - wie auch Stéphane Mallarmé - ein Bewunderer des Romans."… (more)
  2. 20
    Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach (defaults)
  3. 00
    Submission by Michel Houellebecq (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: In "Unterwerfung" geht es um einen Professor der Literaturwissenschaften mit Schwerpunkt "Huysman". Entsprechend wird auch viel über Huysman gesprochen.
  4. 00
    Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin (TheLittlePhrase)
  5. 00
    With the Flow by Joris-Karl Huysmans (arztriper)
  6. 00
    Festins secrets by Pierre Jourde (Eustrabirbeonne)
  7. 00
    Reading Writing by Julien Gracq (Eustrabirbeonne)

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» See also 139 mentions

English (44)  Italian (5)  French (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  All (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Painfully beautiful, weighty ruminations on art, Latin , horticulture, Catholic literature and liturgical music parade past desiring only to be left alone. These stitches aphorisms and taxonimies obscure a darker edge to the novel. It is left unsaid but there is something of menace afoot. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
“Their imperfections pleased him, provided they were neither parasitic nor servile, and perhaps there was a grain of truth in his theory that the inferior and decadent writer, who is more subjective, though unfinished, distills a more irritating aperient and acid balm than the artist of the same period who is truly great. In his opinion, it was in their turbulent sketches that one perceived the exaltations of the most excitable sensibilities, the caprices of the most morbid psychological states, the most extravagant depravities of language charged, in spite of its rebelliousness, with the difficult task of containing the effervescent salts of sensations and ideas.”

—Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans


À rebours. Against the grain. Against nature. No matter the translation or language it all comes out right. Decadence never seemed so austere; retreat never seemed so opulent. No wonder this had such an impact on Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I’d discovered an odd painter from that time during research for my own psychological horror story of a painter, “Cripplegate”, who first gained prominence within the dark, detailed and deluded pages of Huysmans’ classic. What could seemingly be mistaken for a catalogue of grotesquery or litany of extravagance by those without imagination is really an exploration of a wasted human soul sealing himself within a self-made ivory tower and failing desperately at rebuilding some kind of kinship with humanity.
Odilon Redon! That inimitable painter of surrealistic nightmares, hanging in that eccentric’s house, a unique voice within a unique voice of its era. Was Huysmans just being reactionary? Or was he dreadfully bored? Maybe he had a hyperthymic temperament like me. He’d taken as much as he could from his world, or at least his antihero had, immersed himself in oddities, wallpapered his existence with the outré and offensive, only to be broken by the expectation of it all. Alas, des Esseintes.

So now what? Back to society? Back to another book? Back to another project to fool the brain into believing that this current existence is the one you were always meant for because it was the only one in which you could fashion it yourself? Except this book was written in 1884, sounds a hundred years older, and feels as modern as middle-aged angst aswim in seas technologically deeper than one can plumb with rusty anchor and busted chain.

Hellfire Club! Sir Francis Dashwood bashing his head against the gothic walls of Strawberry Hill. Great splintered Horace Walpole! The first gothic novel. A break against tradition. Cutting against the grain. Embracing tradition, history, and throwing it aside to paint or write or forge something singular from within and have it trampled in the grass and full mocking glare of the sun. Pearls before swine. Maybe some things are better kept hidden. Locked in a treasure room and toasted over and over into dissipation. I have cried out to you! De Profundis. It’s only fitting it took one-hundred and thirty Psalms to hear that wail from the depths and make castle walls ring.

Did any of these fucks feel any kind of affinity for their time? ‘Cause I sure as hell don’t. I’m just grateful that Huysmans had the guts to take a chance and lay it all out, vomit in the short grass, for the few of us who’ve been there to nod before turning politely away. ( )
  ToddSherman | Aug 24, 2017 |
I have known for a long, long time that I needed to read this book. When I discovered that the "poisonous little Bible" of Dorian Gray's was a reference to a real text I craved it, but I was also very afraid of it. Part was the fear that it would not be everything that I wanted it to be, everything that the beautiful Chapter 11 of [b:The Picture of Dorian Gray|489732|The Picture of Dorian Gray|Oscar Wilde|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1318163354s/489732.jpg|1858012] describes. Part of it was a fear that I might be bored by it because some reviews I read made it sound pedantic and difficult. And, well, maybe it is those things but it wasn't bad for being those things. Perhaps I read it at the right time, having a Mature & Cultivated Literary Taste thanks to my Degree, and what with focusing my thesis work on this matter. And yet another part of me believes that high-school Micha would have loved this every bit as much. The novel's only character, Des Esseintes, is so misanthropic and fulfils everything I look for in a Decadent protagonist, and his plaintive appeal to the doctor, "But I just don't enjoy the pleasures other people enjoy!" would have struck the same chord in me then as it does now. I found this novel extremely funny in its way and am so glad to have read it (and quite glad that I will continue to work closely with it over the coming months). I don't know who I would recommend it to or if I would do that. Likely you have to come to a work like this of your own choosing entirely. It's not to be thrust upon anyone. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
I quit at 40%. Childish are the behaviour and philosophies of the protagonist who elaborates chapters long on Latin writers that are to his taste or not, flowers that he likes or not, etc. This novel of ideas is more a collection of essays than a narrative. Very boring! ( )
  stef7sa | Jan 5, 2017 |
I'm not saying it's a bad book, but it's definitely not a book for me. I probably shouldn't even rate it, because it's not a book to rate for me. It was a real ordeal to read, but not because it's a bad book, but rather because the topics are completely disconnected with me. The idea is interesting, but the things the author actually talks about aren't my area. ( )
  avalinah | Sep 11, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Huysmans, Joris-Karlprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ascari, FabrizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baldick, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Baldick, Robert.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bo, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dèttore, UgoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellis, HavelockIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, BrendanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nylén, AnttiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Redon, OdilonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sbarbaro, CamilloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zaidenberg, ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Over two months elapsed before Des Esseintes could immerse himself in the peaceful silence of his house at Fontenay, for purchases of all sorts still kept him perambulating the streets and ransacking the shops from one end of Paris to the other.
If, in a cosy fantasy of cultural influence, one were to present one's young niece or nephew with their first nineteenth-century novel, only the most wicked amongst us would choose Joris-Karl Huysmans's Against Nature (in the original French, A rebours). (Introduction)
Judging by the few portraits that have been preserved in the Chateau de Lourps, the line of the Floressas des Esseintes consisted, in bygone days, of muscular warriors and grim-looking mercenaries. (Prologue)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140447636, Paperback)

A wildly original fin-de-siècle novel, Against Nature follows its sole character, Des Esseintes, a decadent, ailing aristocrat who retreats to an isolated villa where he indulges his taste for luxury and excess. Veering between nervous excitability and debilitating ennui, he gluts his aesthetic appetites with classical literature and art, exotic jewels (with which he fatally encrusts the shell of his tortoise), rich perfumes, and a kaleidoscope of sensual experiences. The original handbook of decadence, Against Nature exploded “like a grenade” (in the words of its author) and has enjoyed a cult readership from its publication to the present day.

Features a new Introduction, chronology, and notes and reproduces Huysmans's 1903 preface
Includes a section of contemporary reviews and responses from writers including Mallarmé, Zola, and Wilde

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:36 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans is a novel in which very little happens; its narrative concentrates almost entirely on its principal character, and is mostly a catalogue of the tastes and inner life of Jean Des Esseintes. He is an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero, who loathes 19th century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation. Against Nature contains many themes that became associated with the Symbolist aesthetic. In doing so, it broke from naturalism and became the ultimate example of decadent literature. Jean Des Esseintes is the last member of a powerful and once proud noble family. He has lived an extremely decadent life in Paris, which has left him disgusted with human society. Without telling anyone, he absconds to a house in the countryside. He fills the house with his eclectic art collection and decides to spend the rest of his life in intellectual and aesthetic contemplation. Throughout his intellectual experiments, he recalls various debauched events and love affairs of his past in Paris.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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