Using a multidisciplinary approach, this book argues that the operation of art-as-mirror is the key to the hidden unity of Huysmans' fiction. The author claims that only the elimination of Huysmans' stylistic distortions enabled his art finally to become faithful and clear.
Author of the notoriously mystifying breviary of the Decadence, A Rebours, Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) has often been perceived as a singularly elusive and changeable literary figure. A life-long government functionary, Huysmans nonetheless led a colorful, often tempestuous public life, joining in the debate as to whether naturalism was pornography or a legitimate aesthetic. Whatever ideological position Huysmans embraced at any given moment, his art was always used in the service of an ongoing spiritual quest.