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Des Esseintes

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Des Esseintes Biography

À rebours (translated into English as Against the Grain or Against Nature) (1884) is a novel by the French novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans. It is a novel in which very little happens; its narrative concentrates almost entirely on its principal character, and is mostly a catalogue of the tastes and inner life of Des Esseintes, an eccentric, reclusive aesthete and antihero, who loathes 19th century bourgeois society and tries to retreat into an ideal artistic world of his own creation. À rebours contained many themes which became associated with the Symbolist aesthetic. In doing so, it broke from naturalism and became the ultimate example of "decadent" literature. Background A rebours marked a watershed in Huysmans' career. His early works had been Naturalist in style, being realistic depictions of the drudgery and squalor of working- and lower-middle-class life in Paris. However, by the early 1880s, Huysmans regarded this approach to fiction as a dead end. As he wrote in his preface to

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