A wildly original fin-de-siècle novel, Against Nature contains only one character. Des Esseintes is a decadent, ailing aristocrat who retreats to an isolated villa where her indulges his taste for luxury and excess. Veering between nervous excitability and debilitating ennui, he gluts his aesthetic appetites with classical literature and art, exotic jewels (with which he fatally encrusts the shell of his tortoise), rich perfumes and a kaleidoscope of sensual experiences. Against Nature, in the words of the author, exploded 'like a meteorite' and has enjoyed a cult following to this day.
A slender novel of the late nineteenth-century based in Paris. The protagonist, a precious aesthete and anglophile, prepares himself for a journey to London. He fails to accomplish the journey but reaches the conclusion that anticipation, when pursued with passion and precision, is an equal, if not greater reward. Reading the book insinuates a question that never leaves the mind - is his conclusion sublime or absurd, and if sublime what impact should the idea have upon our lives?