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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusingly oddball Zolaesque novel in English at last, August 21, 1997
This review is from: Becalmed (Paperback)
Huysmans is known in English for two scandalous books-- Against Nature/A Rebours, the book that defined Decadence, and Down There/La Bas, a thinly fictionalized account of Huysmans' own investigations into Satanism and the Occult.
Before he was either Decadent or an Occultist, however, he was a Naturalist, not the Audubon kind but a disciple of Emile Zola, writing ultrarealistic tales of French lowlife and poverty. Becalmed catches Huysmans at the moment that he began to escape Naturalism and move in more mystic directions. An account of a journey to the countryside with his mistress, it attempts to apply Naturalism's passion for recording exact detail not only to the things that happen during the day on the farm, but to the dreams that the Huysmans character experiences at night. Treating dreams with such reportorial straightforwardness makes for a truly surreal experience-- and in fact, Becalmed was one of the books that inspired the Surrealists half a century later. It's good to finally have it in English in a highly readable and entertaining translation
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Green Acres of Hell., April 28, 2000
This review is from: Becalmed (Paperback)
Becalmed is a crucial novel by an important, eccentric writer. Having tried city life and monkish asceticism/astheticism, Huysmans gives the coutryside a shot, and returns the familiar misanthropic, peevish verdict. Amazingly, Becalmed out-against-natures Against Nature! The people who work the land are rendered stupid and greedy, and many passages throughout the book use disease imagery to invoke the encroaching malignity of the land itself. If you've ever thought of moving out to the country to 'get away from it all', this highly accomplished and delightfully bizarre book should give you pause.
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Becalmed by J.-K. Huysmans (Paperback - Mar. 1993)
Used & New from: $14.81
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