By Joris-Karl Huysmans, Robert Baldick

A wildly unique fin-de-siècle novel, Against Nature follows its sole personality, Des Esseintes, a decadent, in poor health aristocrat who retreats to an remoted villa the place he indulges his flavor for luxurious and extra. Veering among worried excitability and debilitating ennui, he gluts his aesthetic appetites with classical literature and paintings, unique jewels (with which he fatally encrusts the shell of his tortoise), wealthy perfumes, and a kaleidoscope of sensual reports. the unique guide of decadence, Against Nature exploded “like a grenade” (in the phrases of its writer) and has loved a cult readership from its ebook to the current day.

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Macon Dead remembered—not the woman, but the circumstances at number three. His tenant’s grandmother or aunt or something had moved in there and the rent was long overdue. “Yes, Mrs. Bains. ” “Well, that’s what I come to talk to you about. You know Cency left all them babies with me. ” “Your rent is four dollars a month, Mrs. Bains. ” “I do know that, Mr. ” Their voices were low, polite, without any hint of conflict. “Can they make it in the street, Mrs. Bains? ” “No, sir. They can’t make it in the street.

She never came back. When Macon Dead got to the front door of his office he saw a stout woman and two young boys standing a few feet away. Macon unlocked his door, walked over to his desk, and settled himself behind it. As he was thumbing through his accounts book, the stout woman entered, alone. “Afternoon Mr. Dead, sir. I’m Mrs. Bains. ” Macon Dead remembered—not the woman, but the circumstances at number three. His tenant’s grandmother or aunt or something had moved in there and the rent was long overdue.

They called it Not Doctor Street, and were inclined to call the charity hospital at its northern end No Mercy Hospital since it was 1931, on the day following Mr. Smith’s leap from its cupola, before the first colored expectant mother was allowed to give birth inside its wards and not on its steps. The reason for the hospital’s generosity to that particular woman was not the fact that she was the only child of this Negro doctor, for during his entire professional life he had never been granted hospital privileges and only two of his patients were ever admitted to Mercy, both white.

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Against Nature (A Rebours) by Joris-Karl Huysmans, Robert Baldick


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