by J. K. Huysmans
(Stay tuned for more Huysmans. We will be stocking Down There (Là-Bas) very soon.)
The Penguin Classics edition with the superior translation.
"With a title translated either as Against Nature or as Against The Grain, this wildly original fin-de-siècle novel follows its sole character, Des Esseintes, a decadent, ailing aristocrat who retreats to an isolated villa where he indulges his taste for luxury and excess. Veering between nervous excitability and debilitating ennui, he gluts his aesthetic appetites with classical literature and art, exotic jewels (with which he fatally encrusts the shell of his tortoise), rich perfumes, and a kaleidoscope of sensual experiences. The original handbook of decadence, Against Nature exploded like a grenade (in the words of its author) and has enjoyed a cult readership from its publication to the present day."
"Huysmans predicted his novel would be a failure with the public and critics: "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 it appeared in May, 1884, the book created a storm of publicity. Though many critics were scandalised, it appealed to a young generation of aesthetes and writers.