Author

Joris-Karl Huysmans cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Joris-Karl Huysmans

French novelist and art critic

1848   -   1907

movement: naturalism, Decadent movement, Symbolism
country of citizenship: France
native language: French
languages spoken, written or signed: French
educated at: Lycée Saint-Louis
occupation: writer, art critic, novelist, author, literary critic
award received: Officer of the Legion of Honour, Knight of the Legion of Honour

Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans (US: , French: [ʃaʁl maʁi ʒɔʁʒ ɥismɑ̃s]; 5 February 1848 – 12 May 1907) was a French novelist and art critic who published his works as Joris-Karl Huysmans (pronounced [ʒɔʁis kaʁl -], variably abbreviated as J. K. or J.-K.). He is most famous for the novel À rebours (1884, published in English as Against the Grain or Against Nature). He supported himself by way of a 30-year career in the French civil service. Huysmans's work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, descriptions, satirical wit and far-ranging erudition. First considered part of Naturalism, he became associated with the decadent movement with his publication of À rebours. His work expressed his deep pessimism, which had led him to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. In later years, his novels reflected his study of Catholicism, religious conversion, and becoming an oblate. He discussed the iconography of Christian architecture at length in La cathédrale (1898), set at Chartres and with its cathedral as the focus of the book. Là-bas (1891), En route (1895) and La cathédrale (1898) are a trilogy that feature Durtal, a character on a spiritual journey who eventually converts to Catholicism. In the novel that follows, L'Oblat (1903), Durtal becomes an oblate in a monastery, as Huysmans himself was in the Benedictine Abbey at Ligugé, near Poitiers, in 1901. La cathédrale was his most commercially successful work. Its profits enabled Huysmans to retire from his civil service job and live on his royalties.
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