28 Mar to 4 Apr
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J.-K. Huysmans's gaudy, shocking, and largely autobiographical novel, The Damned (La-Bas) was quickly condemned and just as quickly achieved cult status. It follows Durtal, a shy, censorious man, who is writing a biography of Gilles de Rais, the fifteenth-century nobleman, child-murderer, and supposed model for "Bluebeard." Bored and disgusted by the vulgarity of everyday life, Durtal seeks spiritual solace by immersing himself in another age. But when he meets the exquisitely evil Madame Chantelouve, he is drawn inextricably into the twilight world of black magic and erotic devilry in fin-de-siecle Paris.
Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) is now recognized as one of the most challenging and innovative figures in European literature and an acknowledged principal architect of the fin-de-siecle imagination. He was a career civil servant who wrote ten novels, most notably A Rebours and La-Bas.