Huysmans is best known for his novel `A Rebours', a fascinating book which, if nothing else, demonstrates the author's detachment of the intellectual from the realities of life. `La-Bas' follows `A Rebours' at a respectful distance, and it is a harder book, attempting to establish a literary style to lead on from the late nineteenth naturalism of French literature, of which Zola was a major part. The principal character, Durtal, whose independent means allow him considerable introspective luxury, is writing a book on the child-murderer Gilles de Rais. `La-Bas' actually gives a usefully succinct account of Gilles de Rais. Durtal's writing sets the context for an examination of the Catholic Church in France in Huysmans' times and in de Rais' times, and deep considerations of the perversion of religion by `black' forces. The book contains a magnificent description of a black mass, one of the components which make `La-Bas' best known, but it also gives considerable detail about what we are likely to assume is Huysmans' sexuality and his probable misogyny. Couplings are described that are horrifyingly repressed and full of self-disgust, his adulterous partner appearing as a malevolent succubus. Not an easy book, but one that is particularly informative in many areas.