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

By Joris-Karl Huysmans, Patrick McGuinness

ISBN-10: 014190660X

ISBN-13: 9780141906607

The hero of this curious novel is des Esseintes, a neurasthenic aristocrat who has became his again at the vulgarity of recent lifestyles and retreated to an remoted nation villa. the following, followed purely by means of a number of silent servants, he pursues his obsessions with unique plants, infrequent gemstones, and intricate perfumes and embarks on a sequence of more and more unusual aesthetic experiments, beginning with the choice to provide his enormous puppy tortoise a jewel-encrusted shell...

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Ahead of our era of artificial intelligence, Flaubert exposed the era of artificial stupidity, and there is an element of Bouvard and Pécuchet in Des Esseintes. It is legitimate to find some of his antics farcical: his world of knowledge without context, reference without points of reference, discovery without application is in part related to theirs. The scene where Des Esseintes plays his ‘mouth organ’ of liqueurs or orchestrates scents with his vaporizer, his imaginary trip to Britain based on reading of Dickens and Poe and port bottle labels in the restaurant, or his extraordinary sexual relationship with a ventriloquist who recites Flaubert – all these are eccentric adventures, but with a strain of comical pedantry too.

We may detect also Poe’s ‘Philosophy of Furniture’ and Baudelaire’s ‘The Double Chamber’ in Des Esseintes’s interiors. In Against Nature, objects, like knowledge and memories, are collected and stored as the reader toils through thickets of descriptive prose. The language that had once described the world has edged out the world. In this respect, Against Nature is a Decadent book, but it would be mistaken to see it as a book that advocated Decadence. Early on in Against Nature Des Esseintes expresses his preference for the artificial over the natural, one of the defining attitudes of Decadence.

1895 25 Feb. Publication of En Route (tr. 1896), which describes Durtal’s conversion and subsequent retreat at Notre-Dame d’Igny. 1896 Oct. Sojourn at the Benedictine Abbey of Solesmes. 1898 Jan. La Cathédrale (tr. The Cathedral, 1898), the third volume in the Durtal cycle, is published. 1898 16 Feb. Huysmans retires from the Civil Service after thirty-two years’ service. 1899 June Leaves Paris to take up residence in his purpose-built house at Ligugé. Publication of La Magie en Poitou (Magic in Poitou).

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


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