Commonplace Book: Joris-Karl Huysmans, the Perpetual Optimist


This idiotic sentimentality combined with ruthless commercialism clearly represented the dominant spirit of the age; the same men who would have gouged anybody’s eyes out to make a few coppers, lost all their flair and shrewdness when it came to dealing with the shifty tavern girls who harried them without pity and fleeced them without mercy. The wheels of industry turned, and families cheated one another in the name of trade, only to let themselves be robbed of money by their sons, who in turn allowed themselves to be swindled by these women, who in the last resort were bled white by their own fancy men.

Against Nature (À Rebours, 1884), by Joris-Karl Huysmans, translated by Robert Baldick