Against Nature

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Oxford University Press, 1998 - 227 strani
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"The protagonist, Des Esseintes, exhibits the debilitating symptoms of neurasthenia... The condition necessitates his temporary retirement from Paris to his country estate at Fontenay, where he sets his course "against the grain" of ordinary life. Cloistered in luxury, Des Esseintes contrives a regimen of exquisite sensualism. He devises a "mouth organ" from which he sips "harmonic" combinations of liqueurs. He cultivates exotic flora and arranges to have the shell of a live tortoise inlaid with jewels. His overly refined tastes encompass perfumes, monastic music, visionary painting, and the poetry of Stephane Mallarme. Unchecked indulgence only deepens his malaise, however, prompting his doctor to order him back to Paris. The story ends there, with an appeal by Des Esseintes for pity from a God he only vaguely believes in." (brittanica.com/topic/Against-the-Grain, accessed 1/8/2020)

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Nicholas White is Lecturer in French at Royal Holloway College, University of London.

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