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Against the Grain

Joris-Karl Huysmans

Against the Grain, by Joris-Karl Huysmans - click to see full size image

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Against the Grain (French: À rebours) is a novel by French author Joris-Karl Huysmans, first published in 1884. The book tells the story of Jean des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive man who comes from an aristocratic family, but who rails against the bourgeois society. Instead, he prefers to hide himself away in a creative, artistic world of his own making. The book which is essentially without plot, details Des Esseintes's aesthetic tastes, his thoughts on literature, painting, and religion, and his hyperaesthesic sensory experiences. Against the Grain became a classic example of so-called 'Decadent' literature (the Decadent movement in the late 19th century was characterized by self-disgust, sickness at the world, skepticism, delight in perversion, and a belief in the superiority of human creativity over logic.)

Huysmans didn't think his book would be a hit at all. He predicted that: 'It will be the biggest fiasco of the year—but I don't care a damn! It will be something nobody has ever done before, and I shall have said what I want to say...'. However, when published, Against the Grain caused a storm of publicity and appealed greatly to the young generation of writers and aesthetes. It is believed that when Oscar Wilde writes of the 'poisonous French novel' in The Picture of Dorian Grey, he was talking about Huysmans book.

This book has 126 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1884. This is an anonymous translation, first published in 1926.

Production notes: This ebook of Against the Grain was published by Global Grey on the 12th April 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Model for a portrait of Bonnard' by Édouard Vuillard

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