Synopses & Reviews
The year 1884 saw the appearance in Paris of a fin de sicle cult novel that was celebrated as an altogether perverse sensation on the European cultural scene. The title of the book was A Rebours (translated both as Against the Grain and Against Nature). Its author Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote it as a seductive textbook of decadence, as an antidote to banal naturalism or realism. Symbolism, whose influence was felt well into the modernist era, was an artistic religion-substitute, a spiritually charged cult of beauty. A Symbolist picture or sculpture is mysterious on purpose. In place of intellectual comprehension, the work seeks to have the beholder experience its mysterious depth like a vision. It is no wonder that Symbolists created some of the most fascinating artworks of their age.