The University of Iowa

Recommended: J.-K. Huysmans

I would like to draw attention to a book by J.-K. Huysmans, À Rebours (1884), that once had tremendous impact in decadent circles and nowadays is nearly forgotten. I happened to read it in early age and was thrilled to discover something in total opposition with Soviet values around.In this book practically nothing happens. It is rather a catalogue of the tastes and inner life of Des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero. It is this "poisonous book" to which Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray refers and whose protagonist Dorian imitates. Huysmans deals with exoticism, eroticism and spirituality in a rich, intoxicating style, obsessed with bizarre sensations. It is a haunting and dangerous book; be careful.


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