Reading right now
Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans (February 5, 1848 – May 12, 1907) was a French novelist who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans; he is most famous for the novel À rebours.
His style is remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, wide-ranging vocabulary, wealth of detailed and sensuous description, and biting, satirical wit. He began his career in the school of Naturalism, but later broke with the naturalists.
His novels are also noteworthy for their encyclopaedic documentation, ranging from the catalogue of decadent Latin authors in À rebours to the discussion of the symbolism of Christian architecture in La Cathédrale. Huysmans’ work increasingly expressed disgust with modern life and a deep pessimism, which led the author first to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer but later to the teachings of the Catholic Church. ( New World Encyclopedia contributors, “Joris-Karl Huysmans,” New World Encyclopedia ).
“Barbaric in its profusion, violent in its emphasis, wearying in its splendor, it is – especially in regard to things seen—extraordinarily expressive, with all the shades of a painter’s palette. Elaborately and deliberately perverse, it is in its very perversity that Huysmans’ work—so fascinating, so repellent, so instinctively artificial—comes to represent, as the work of no other writer can be said to do, the main tendencies, the chief results, of the Decadent movement in literature.” (Arthur Symons, “The Decadent Movement in Literature”)
“It is difficult to find a writer whose vocabulary is so extensive, so constantly surprising, so sharp and yet so exquisitely gamey in flavour, so constantly lucky in its chance finds and in its very inventiveness.” (Julien Gracq)