Joris-Karl Huysmans

"Indeed, each liquor corresponded in taste, he fancied, with the sound of a particular instrument. Dry curaçao, for example, resembled the clarinet in its shrill, velvety tone; kümmel was like the oboe, whose timbre is sonorous and nasal; crème de menthe and anisette were like the flute, both sweet and poignant, whining and soft. Then to complete the orchestra come kirsch, blowing a wild trumpet blast; gin and whisky, deafening the palate with their harsh eruptions of cornets and trombones; liqueur brandy, blaring with the overwhelming crash of tubas, while the thundering of cymbals and the big drum, beaten hard, evoked the rakis of Chios and the mastics."

—from À Rebours

Joris-Karl Huysmans, French novelist and art critic; born in Paris, 5 February, 1848; died 12 May, 1907. He was first associated with Émile Zola and the naturalist group and then joined the French Decadent Movement. Huysmans' conversion through Satanism to Catholicism, from obsession with bizarre sensations to the search of spiritual life can be followed in such works as À Rebours (Against the Grain) (1884), Là-Bas (Down There) (1891) and La Cathédrale (1898). His quintessential cult novel "A Rebours (Against Nature)" was a story that featured a decadent aristocrat who collected the drawings of a then relatively obscure artist named Odilon Redon.

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