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New York Review of Books

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  • George Schuyler: An Afrofuturist Before His Time
    What unsettled me about Black No More (1931) the first time I read it was that George Schuyler was so merciless—about everyone. At a moment when black writers were finally awakening to the beauty of black culture, Schuyler had moved on to...
  • The Bitter Secret of ‘Wormwood’
    If Errol Morris had simply recounted the facts, even in a way that emphasized the real suffering of the victims, that would have shocked nobody. They are the stuff of every spy movie, a genre that has successfully turned state surveillance and...
  • Where the Lemon Trees Bloom
    To the Editors: In his review of Rüdiger Safranski’s Goethe: Life as a Work of Art [“Super Goethe,” NYR, December 21, 2017], Ferdinand Mount concludes: When [Goethe] finally made his long-dreamed-of trip to Italy, he remained impervious to the...
  • Whither Somalia?
    To the Editors: It was pleasing to read Jeffrey Gettleman’s description of how, despite so many problems, “Somalia Rebounds.” In my experience Somalis tend to be brave, tough, and hardworking; but that does not quite explain where the money...
  • Lend Me Your Ear
    To the Editors: The recent article by Jerome Groopman ends with a discussion of cochlear implants that paints a picture of the implantee experience that is far less positive than it is in reality.
  • The Emperor Robeson
    It is hard to find anyone under fifty who has the slightest idea who Paul Robeson is, or what he was, which is astonishing—as a singer, of course, and as an actor, his work is of the highest order. But his significance as an emblematic figure is...
  • To Be, or Not to Be
    Thirty-nine years ago my parents took a package of documents to an office in Moscow. This was our application for an exit visa to leave the Soviet Union. More than two years would pass before the visa was granted, but from that day on I have felt a...
  • ‘Dignity and Justice’: An Interview with Patrisse Khan-Cullors
    Patrisse Khan-Cullors: Over the last four and half years, we’ve seen BLM go from a phrase to a hashtag to a political platform to a movement. In the development of Black Lives Matter, we’ve seen the growth of black leadership and the rise...
  • Trump’s Debt to Ron Paul’s Paranoid Style
    Though Ron Paul is often described as an orthodox libertarian, his ideology is more accurately described as paleolibertarian, which shares the limited government principles of traditional libertarianism but places a heavier emphasis on conservative...

Neglectedbooks.com

The Neglected Books Page

www.NeglectedBooks.com: Where forgotten books are remembered
  • Free E-books of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage — and a technical note

    Almost two years ago, I embarked upon my most ambitious and, it turned out, most rewarding reading task, working through the thirteen books of Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage. (Richardson referred to it as a single novel and each book as a chapter.) At the time I wrote: … while a complete scholarly edition of Richardson’s work... Read more

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  • The Collected Stories of Rhys Davies (1955)

    We spent our Christmas week in a cottage in north Wales and I could not pass the time without taking the opportunity to read a long out-of-print collection of stories by one of Wales’ finest writers of the 20th century, Rhys Davies. The Collected Stories of Rhys Davies is one of the many perhaps not... Read more

    The post The Collected Stories of Rhys

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  • Chrstimas Eve, by Alistair Cooke (1952)

    Christmas Eve collects three of Alistair Cooke’s Christmas-time stories from his legendary BBC “Letters from America” broadcast. I listened to the audiobook version of the collection, Letters from America, 1946-1004, recently, and saddened at the thought that his sublimely calm, balanced voice is no longer with us. But this last year would surely have been... Read more

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  • The Collected Stories of T. O. Beachcroft (1946)

    The Collected Stories of T. O. Beachcroft Graham Greene once wrote that T. O. (Thomas Owen) Beachcroft was “likely to become, after Mr. H. E. Bates, the most distinguished short-story writer in this country.” Well, this wasn’t one of his best predictions. Beachcroft’s last collection of stories was published over sixty years ago and his... Read more

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  • Tomato Cain and Other Stories, by Nigel Kneale (1949)

    Nigel Kneale is best known now for his novels and screenplays featuring the alien-battling scientist, Dr. Quartermass, but his first book, the collection Tomato Cain and Other Stories was considered remarkable enough to merit a foreword by Elizabeth Bowen: Within the last few years, readers have become less shy of the short story. That this... Read more

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  • Selected Modern Short Stories, edited by Alan Steele (1937)

    Selected Modern Short Stories–the first of several collections that editor Alan Steele compiled for Penguin in the late 1930s–offers a good illustration of the random nature of literary fate. Let’s take at look at the authors listed on the cover: • John Hampson Hampson’s first-published novel, Saturday Night at the Greyhound (1931) was a surprise... Read more

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  • The Door in the Wall, by Oliver La Farge (1966)

    I picked out a yellow-jacketed copy of Oliver La Farge’s posthumous collection of short stories, The Door in the Wall, from a striking display in the window of Any Amount of Books, one of the few remaining used bookstores on Charing Cross Road, when in London recently. I’ve never learned just why so many British... Read more

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  • Private Opinion: A Commonplace-Book, by Alan Pryce-Jones (1936)

    There isn’t necessarily a template for a commonplace book, which Webster’s defines as “a book of memorabilia” and Wikipedia as “essentially a scrapbook.” But even if there were one, Alan Pryce-Jones’ Private Opinion wouldn’t follow it. Pryce-Jones, who is probably best known for editing the Time Literary Supplement from 1948 to 1959, was a precocious... Read more

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  • Rope Dancer, by M. J. Fitzgerald (1986)

    Many of the stories in M. J. Fitzgerald’s collection, Rope Dancer, read like unsettling dreams: vivid enough to provoke deep feelings but too full of bizarre, illogical transitions and events to be part of waking life. In “Mystery Story,” a woman finds herself returned, again and again, to the compartment of a passenger train, where... Read more

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  • Croatian Tales of Long Ago, by Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1922)

    One day late, but in keeping with the spirit of Halloween, which reminds us each year of the didactic benefits of scaring the crap out of kids, I want to celebrate a fine example of fairy tales told with the gloves off. As Bruno Bettelheim (perhaps somewhat plagiaristically) reminded us, uniformly pleasant and positive stories... Read more

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(04/04/2015) Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans. Baltimore. 1959. Penguin Books. A new translation from the French by Robert Baldick. With An Introduction by Robert Baldick. 220 pages. L86. paperback.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

penguin against nature l86   First published in 1884, Huysmans’ A Rebours caused a sensation. Oscar Wilde made it a textbook for Dorian Gray, observing: ‘It was the strangest book that he had ever read’. The novel recounts the exotic practices and perverse pleasures of Due Jean Floressas des Esseintes, a wealthy aesthete in search of an elusive ideal. In his neurotic sensibility, his passion for novelty, Des Esseintes foreshadows every unhappy, solitary hero of the twentieth century; he epitomizes the spiritual anguish of modern times. Robert Baldick’s translation preserves the richness and complexity of Huysmans’ style, making this unique work fascinating reading.

 

  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 (1884, published in English as Against the Grain or Against Nature). He supported himself by a 30-year career in the French civil service. Huysmans' work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, descriptions, satirical wit and far-ranging erudition. First considered part of Naturalism in literature, he became associated with the decadent movement with his publication of À rebours. His work expressed his deep pessimism, which had led him to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. In later years, his novels reflected his study of Catholicism, religious conversion, and becoming an oblate. He discussed the iconography of Christian architecture at length in La cathédrale (1898), set at Chartres and with its cathedral as the focus of the book. Là-bas (1891), En route (1895) and La cathédrale (1898) are a trilogy that feature Durtal, an autobiographical character whose spiritual progress is tracked and who converts to Catholicism. In the novel that follows, L'Oblat (1903), Durtal becomes an oblate in a monastery, as Huysmans himself was in the Benedictine Abbey at Ligugé, near Poitiers, in 1901. La cathédrale was his most commercially successful work. Its profits enabled Huysmans to retire from his civil service job and live on his royalties.

 

 

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