Marcel Bachran Bachran itibaren 24050 Via Serio I BG, İtalya
Did I really read this book forty years ago? Or did I just read the passages about the "perfume organ" and the jewel encrusted turtle and later assumed I had read the rest? If I did read it, I was completely wrong in my evaluation of this as a static, effete precursor to "Dorian Gray," a work marooned in the vanished aesthetic of the late nineteenth century. No, no. "Against the Grain" is much, much richer than that. For starters, it is an accomplished work of realism that turns realism on its head. Huysman--just as effectively as the Goncourts or Dreiser--knows how to accumulate a wealth of detail to convey the physical reality of the situation he wishes to describe. Just because he's describing the fantastically decorated and furnished apartment of an extremely wealthy aesthete concerned with pleasing no one but himself is irrelevant to this particular aspect of the "novel." I say "novel" because--in spite of its sound realist credentials--I'm not sure it really is a novel at all. It resembles more the philosophical treatise/fictionalized autobiography of "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" and "Sartor Resartus." In total effect, Huysmans' work has more in common with De Quincey and Carlyle than it does with Zola or Frank Norris. It also reminds me of that great short story of Flaubert's, "The Temptation of St. Anthony," for Des Esseintes--the novel's protagonist--is a saint of the senses, and on his path to enlightenment he encounters demons, delusions and disease. Indeed, the spiritual aspect of this book is so strong--particular in our hero's love for the fullness of the Catholic tradition--that I'm almost surprised at the reaction to the book in conservative circles. In hindsight, it is easy to see that Huysmans is on the road back to Rome. And yet . . . the book is wickedly funny too. Huymans views his protagonist with devastating irony, particularly in the frequent juxtaposition of grandiose schemes with physical illnesses and practical and psychological failings. In addition, in more than a few passages--Des Esseintes scheme for making a murderer out of a street boy is the most remarkable example--Huysmans obliquely reveals a consciousness of the plight of the poor that suggests a world of Christian compassion and duty beyond all this preciousness. This is a deep, rich work, and--although it is a classic representative of the fin de siecle--it transcends its age and has the ability to speak to ours as well.