Mroczne ceremonie (Joris-Karl Huysmans)
Joris-Karl Huysmans, one of the most prominent French writers of the turn of the twentieth century, began his literary career as a naturalist, a promising disciple of Emile Zola. He departed from these ideals in his best-known novel À rebours (1884), considered the “bible of decadence”. Its protagonist, the eccentric misanthrope des Esseintes, withdraws from society to indulge in contemplation in solitude, studying rare prints and seeking beauty in the singular. He appreciates the scandalising works of writers such as Barbey dʼAurevilly and Baudelaire. These authors have been accused of promoting satanism. Durtal, the protagonist of the novel Là-bas, goes even further, in which we find contemporary echoes of satanism, attempts to revive the ritual of the black mass or a fascination with cruelty. Ultimately, however – and this is best evidenced in subsequent works (En route, La Cathédrale, LʼOblat) satanism brings disillusionment. A return to the Christian religion, which Huysmans nevertheless interprets in an original way, becomes inevitable.