Paleness of Being

Photographer Unknown, (Paleness of Being), Model Unknown, Photo Shoot

“To love at a distance and without hope; never to possess; to dream chastely of pale charms and impossible kisses extinguished on the waxen brow of death: ah, that is something like it. A delicious straying away from the world, and never the return. As only the unreal is not ignoble and empty, existence must be admitted to be abominable. Yes, imagination is the only good thing which heaven vouchsafes to the skeptic and pessimist, alarmed by the eternal abjectness of life.”
Joris-Karl Huysmans, Lá-Bas 

Charles Marie Georges Huysmans was a French novelist and art critic who published his works under the name of Joris-Karl Huysmans. His work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, descriptions, erudition, and satirical wit. Considered to be part of the Naturalist moverment, Huysmans later became associated with the Decadent movement, characterized by its sickness at the world, general skepticism, delight in perversion, and the employment of crude humor. Along with visual artist Félicien Rops’s work, Huysmans’s 1884 novel “Against Nature” is considered a prime example of the Decadent movement.

Huysmans’s novel “Lá-Bas”, translated as “The Damned”, is the first novel in a trilogy that featured Durtal, an autobiographical character whose spiritual progress is followed and who converts to Catholicism. This thinly-disguised portrait of the author himself would become the protangonist in many of Huysmans’s novels. First published in 1891, “Lá-Bas” is Huysmans’s most famous work after his 1884 “Á Rebours”, which became the ultimate example of “Decadent” literature, inspiring such works as Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.


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