Bruce's Reviews > Against Nature

Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans
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Jul 24, 12

Read from July 06 to 17, 2012

I started reading this out of curiosity after finishing The Picture of Dorian Gray. One long chapter of Wilde's novel inventories quite exhaustively various esoteric pursuits of the protagonist, including gems, perfumes, and spiritual practices. I found it the most tedious part of the book, and so was surprised to find similar inventories (the model for Wilde's) in Against Nature far more riveting (and more numerous, with a different subject for almost every chapter). The difference is the panache and conviction of the protagonist, Des Essientes. I felt as if I were being led forcibly by the arm, with a rather sardonic and uncompromising friend, and made to see the subtle delights of ancient Latin homiletics, grossly fantastic flowers, the poetry of Mallarme, and many other things.

Des Esseintes, a genuine eccentric, not a show-off, spares no cost or effort in spurning boredom and making his life colorful and interesting. His waywardness is perversely inspiring.
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