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Joris-Karl Huysmans’s cult classic of deviance and decadence that inspired Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, now in a new translation by Theo Cuffe
A celebration of deviance, vanity, sensual abandon, and the aesthetics of artifice, Against Nature brings us the nineteenth-century rebel Jean Des Esseintes—disaffected, degenerate, and art obsessed. The last of a proud and noble family, Des Esseintes retreats from the world in disgust at bourgeois society and leads a life based on cultivation of the senses through art. He distills perfumes from the rarest oils and essences, creates a garden of poisonous flowers, sets gemstones in a tortoise’s gold-painted shell, and plans to corrupt a street urchin until he is degraded enough to commit murder. Des Esseintes’s groundbreaking aesthetic pilgrimage in Against Nature has served as the guidebook to decadence for more than a century, inspiring writers from Oscar Wilde to Michel Houellebecq.
A pioneer whose early work took inspiration from Baudelaire and Zola, Joris-Karl Huysmans was a founder of the nineteenth-century decadent movement. Against Nature has influenced countless writers and artists and enjoys a cult following to this day. This new translation by Theo Cuffe, with a foreword by Lucy Sante, captures the magnificence of Huysmans’s famous style—filled with wit and irony, expressiveness and precision, erudition and sensuality.