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Becalmed

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  116 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
The protagonist of Becalmed seeks spiritual shelter in the countryside. He finds not rest but a nightmare - a gruesome crumbling house, peasants both stupid and cunning, and the landscape - indeed the whole natural world - in a ghastly state of decay. "A hemorrhage of ordure," Huysmans calls it. His descriptions of Gothic intensity provide a total inversion of naturalism w ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published March 1st 1993 by Atlas Press (GB) (first published 1887)
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Nate D
Aug 10, 2015 Nate D rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: city people
Recommended to Nate D by: escape to the countryside
Written in 1887, between his two major decadent works, Huysmans appears here in a different mode than either the aesthetic catalogue of Against Nature or the almost investigative-journalistic account of Satanism in modern 1890s France in Down There. Actually, for someone so defining of the Decadent movement he seems notably willing to shift gears from work to work.

Here, he follows a couple of financially insolvent former aristocrats, Jacques and Louise, who retreat to the countryside, only to b
...more
Tristan
Sep 05, 2016 Tristan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published three years after his decadent masterpiece Against Nature, Huysmans returned - with some new tricks up his sleeve - to his naturalist roots with En Rade, an open critique of the often romanticized "good country life" and its inhabitants.

Fleeing from creditors, a parisian couple seeks refuge with their relatives in the countryside, only to find they have just traded one -in their eyes- loathsome class of people with another. The uncle and aunt are a coarse, underhanded, greedy peasant
...more
Robert
Aug 14, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The more I read Huysmans, the more I appreciate him. Perhaps its his indifference to conventional narrative structure, his tendency to show off his eclectic tastes or his reems of descriptive prose but he's most definitely a taste worth aquiring.
'Stranded' tells the tale of Jacques, a man on the verge of financial ruin who takes refuge with his wife in the countryside. Unfortunately, Jacques finds his sanity crumbling as quickly as the ancient chateau in which he stays as he goes through an exis
...more
Shawn
Dec 30, 2008 Shawn rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-decadence
J.K. Huysmans followed up Against Nature, his decadent masterpiece, with this peculiar merging of his new Decadent style and his old naturalist approach.

Jacques and his ill wife move out to her aunt and uncle's farm in the French countryside seeking a respite from the financial dramas threatening to ruin their life and livelihood. They need a haven, a place to recuperate for a season and marshal their forces before rejoining the fight back in Paris. But country life is not idyllic or restful, in
...more
Julian
Oct 18, 2016 Julian rated it liked it
"the cemeteries could all be converted into factories which would prepare to order for rich families the concentrated extracts of their ancestors, the essential oils of children, and the bouquet unique to the paterfamilias...
furthermore, why not flavour certain dishes with it?
Yum-yum! Grandpa!"
Kyle
May 18, 2016 Kyle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Durtal Goes to Camp

'En Rade' (or Stranded, as this edition is titled) whisks the reader away from the usual suspects of Huysmans's loathing: Parisian aristocrats, filthy restaurants, dingy brothels, modern art, bourgeois Catholocism, etc., and drops him into a rural inferno. Replacing the social engineers of 'A Dilemma' and the lecherous ghouls of 'La-Bas' are the worst that the countryside has to offer. Rather than jewel encrusted tortoises, we are treated to vomiting cats, screeching owls, and
...more
Mason Jones
I enjoyed Stranded (En Rade) -- I'm a fan of Huysmans, though some of his books are certainly easier going than others. Stranded is pretty smooth going, a straightforward story of a husband and wife who, having lost their money, go to stay with her aunt and uncle in the countryside while trying to regain some funds. They discover that there's more to the "country bumpkins" than they might expect, and things don't go as smoothly as they hoped. The manor is falling down around them, the wife is ...more
Lisa
Mar 25, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Enfin une lumière étoilée, très basse, scintilla, grossit peu à peu, puis divergea, s’étendit, devint diffuse, à mesure qu’on avançait ; bientôt elle se délaya, sans rayons, toute mate, dans le cadre carré d’une fenêtre. Ils atteignirent une chaumière sans étage, composée d’une seule pièce. Dans la grande cheminée, sous une hotte dont les rebords s’encombraient de vaisselles peintes, un feu de sarment pétillait sec au-dessous d’un coquemar de fonte qui bouillait, épandant sous la danse de son ...more
Kezia
Feb 19, 2016 Kezia rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Deceptively simple plot -- with an undertow. On one hand I would have liked it to be longer. On the other hand its leanness lends to the potency.

Maybe it's cheating to mark this book as read, since it was included in a massive anthology (reviewed here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). However if I don't add it to the "read" shelf, I'm liable to buy it again accidentally.
Stephen
Sep 03, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
I read the Atlas Press edition of this (translated as Becalmed) years ago and remember loving it. This new edition has a substantial introduction and notes.
Geoffrey
Jan 06, 2012 Geoffrey rated it really liked it
First Huysmans I've read in many years, and I liked it. Sure, it lacks the perverse purity of Against Nature, but how could it not? Recommended.
Ross Scott-buccleuch
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Jul 27, 2012
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French novelist who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans. He is most famous for the novel À rebours (Against Nature). 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. The novels are also noteworthy for their encyclopaedic documentation, ranging from the catalogue of ...more
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“Menacing lines of black tomorrows on the horizon.” 22 likes
“In this game he had acquired a great deal of muddled knowledge, more than one approximation and less than one certitude. And absence of energy, a curiosity that was too sharp to be crushed immediately, a lack of order in his ideas, a weakening of his spiritual boundaries, which were promptly twisted, an excessive passion for running along forked roads and wearying of the path as soon as he had started on it, mental indigestion demanding varied dishes, quickly tiring of the foods he desired, digesting almost all, but badly, was his state.” 9 likes
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