Friday, July 21, 2017

174. A rebours

A rebours
Against the Grain
Joris-Karl Huysmans
Around 200 pages

I have been about 75 pages into this book for weeks, unable to make myself finish it.  It's so strange that a 200 page novel could feel as long winded as an entry in A Dance to the Music of Time.  Finally today I forced myself to endure the remaining pages.  I am going to treat myself to something wonderfully trashy as a reward.

Clearly inspired by the vastly superior Bouvard and Pecuchet, Against the Grain tells the story of Jean des Essientes, the last member of a noble family.  He once lived a life of debauchery in Paris (we get it List Books, Paris=vice), but now seeks a quieter life in the country.  He then has some wacky misadventures, like when he gets a toothache or when he tries to encrust his tortoise's shells with jewels and accidentally kills it.  Okay, the adjective "wacky" might have been a bit too generous.

I am racking my brain trying to think of redeeming qualities of this book.  Let's see.  I suppose the literary references might be of interest to my fellow nerds, but the allusions are somewhat obscure.  In fact, this entire novel is so firmly situated in a specific place and time that it felt incredibly foreign to me (and this is coming from someone who thought The Female Quixote was relatable).

I would recommend sticking to Flaubert.

RATING: **---

Interesting Facts:

Considered the ultimate example of "decadent" literature.

UP NEXT: Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant.

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