Against Nature (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 18 Jun 1998
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About the Author
Nicholas White is Lecturer in French at Royal Holloway College, University of London.
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Top Customer Reviews
A novel with only one main character sounds a bit strange. And it is. But rather than the focus being on linear plot, action or conventional emotions, the reader of this book - whilst carrying out their own solitary activity of reading - seems to form a symbiotic relationship with the book's protagonist, Des Esseintes. Reading about the things that this French loner does purely out of boredom is fascinating; indeed, the very act of reading about his mad experiments and activities gives the reader as great a hedonistic pleasure as it gives Des Esseintes himself by doing these things.
Whilst most people today associate money with being able to have a nice house, eat well, drive nice cars etc, this fictional account of a bored, rich man sees a much more fascinating way to toy with boredom and money. The translation is great, capturing Huysmans' tone and sentiment perfectly.
Reading this book will change your life.
This book has a very very brief plot but that is the beauty of it. You get lost in the descriptions. The author paints a picture in your mind. It's easily one of the most enchanting books I've read.
I was truly absorbed in it, and upon finishing it realized that story was less interesting than anyone's life yet the descriptions will mesmerize and hold you to the end. Its almost a sensory overload.
Might be of interest to some others - this is presumably the ' yellow book ' that corrupts the main character in the picture of Dorian Gray
Calling this novel an aesthetical novel is essentially naive. This novel is so much more: a harrowing portrayal of the death of a kind of life. One man's battle with the world he lives in, grasping at the heels of the pleasures he loves in the vain hope that they'll stay. Not a perfect novel, but essential reading for any one who has read the likes of Wilde, Zola, Baudelaire, Sartre, or anyone at all concerned with France in the 19th century.
Des Esseintes changes one lifestyle for another and contemplates upon a series of subjects in his new home that he has bizarrely furnished and fitted out. A weird and captivating tale this book is now a cult classic and has held people enthralled since its first publication, indeed it is difficult to put it down, and remains in the mind long after. As I wrote in my review for The Damned (Penguin Classics), Huysmans can write about literally anything and hold you in captivation, truly he was one of the worlds greatest writers. In this book mention is made of Barbey D'Aurevilly, and the bookLes Diaboliques: She Devils (Empire of the Senses). This is a book of short stories and is well worth a read.
Along with the story and an introduction you also get here Huysmans' preface written 20 years later, and also reviews and responses to the novel from such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, Emile Zola and Barbey D'Aurevilly, amognst others.
If you tend to like books that have little or no 'plot' and that concentrate on characters then you may just like this little book from the end of the 19th Century....it appealed to me.
It is essentially about a bored aristocratic aesthete who's had enough of his modern decadent life and decides to live a solitary but comfortable life in Fontenay (presumably a small town around Paris). He decorates his house, reads some books, looks back on his life and ends up getting ill...that's about it really.
The high points consist of how and why he acquired a jewel-encrusted tortoise and his aborted attempt to flee to England, which were both quite amusing. The low points are the whole chapters taken over to musing on his favourite Latin authors and later on in the book a whole chapter dedicated to medieval theological works.
On the whole, quite a readable and amusing book, if at times a bit dull. Huysmans even manages to avoid a melodramatic ending as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this book fascinating when I was doing some research which involved Oscar Wilde. It is an amazing book and very much part of the fin-de-siecle movement.Published 4 months ago by trilby
This is a well book at a really good price. I am very happy with this purchase. Very happy !Published on 30 April 2014 by Chris
It's a Great read, a really unusual book. It arrived on time, clear and easy to read, could do with a bit more of a conservative cover though.Published on 9 Oct. 2013 by alexanderbuck
To understand and appreciate this book, which by its very nature seems to reject the reader, or perhaps to withdraw from the reader any semblance of the forms of contact and... Read morePublished on 15 Feb. 2012 by Eileen Shaw