Item description for Parisian Sketches (Dedalus European Classics) by J. K. Huysmans & Brendan King...
First published in 1880, same year as Edgar Degas' The Dancing Lesson and Edouard Manet's solo show of brasserie paintings at La Vie Moderne gallery, these Parisian Sketches share the Impressionist fascination with the contemporary life of Paris, an exuberant Paris in the era of the Op?ra Garnier and the Folies-Bergeres. Like the striking images of the early Impressionists, whom Huysmans championed when it was unfashionable, Parisian Sketches is an assault on the visual senses. Composed of a series of intense, meticulously observed literary impressions of caf? concerts and circus performers, of streetwalkers and hot-chestnut sellers, of run-down slums and forgotten quarters in the grimy, shiny 'City of Light' -- Parisian Sketches recreates the Paris with an intimacy and an immediacy that confirms Huysmans as one of the masters of 19th century French prose.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Parisian Sketches (Dedalus European Classics)?
Impressionist Fiction (with can can dancers!) Nov 26, 2007
"Parisian Sketches" is worth the paperback cost simply for the chapter that spends a few pages discussing the various erotic odors emanating from the underarms of Parisian grisettes. This is a valuable historical document: I hope it never goes out of print.
The Sights and Sounds of Paris in the 1870s Jul 14, 2004
Pre A Rebours, this series of meticulously detailed vignettes conjures up not merely images, but, more enticingly, the tastes, sounds and smells of the rampant Paris of the 1870's. From the burlesque of the Follies-Bergere to the melancholy of a Parisian bus ride, the reader can drain the absinthe from an unattended glass, or smudge the generously applied make-up of a cigarette girl or a lascivious whore. For every odour of affordable perfume, there is the smell of a sweaty armpit, for every pair of pretty ankles, there is the less becoming sight of a pair of tattered shoes or a stained dress. Indeed, Huysmans descriptive indulgences is the scintillating genius of a pure prose artist, where any plot or morality have been tossed from the window of a poplar inn, into the stagnant, stinking pools of the dried up Bievre.
But only a gross misreading would label the work of Huysmans as that of a man fascinated only with decadent whims and amoral extravagances. An admirable thinker, Huysmans impressions of the shameless and grotesque weekend excesses of his fellow Parisians cannot fail to call to mind our own even more rotten contemporary society.
This series of sketches represents a Huysmans who still held within him love/hate fascination with Parisian life, before he would turn his back on Paris, and Zola's naturalist movement, in A Rebours and the guidebook like novels charting the adventures of Durtal, his alter ego. If these Parisian Sketches are Baudelairean in one sense, where beauty and pleasure are drawn from deviance and repugnance, and the city dweller's manipulation of nature in order to match his bloated requirements evokes his own beautiful downfall, they just as easily evoke the colourful world of Renoir and Monet. They are impressions that precede the delight of Jean Renoir's "French Can-Can" as much as the bourgeois hypocrisies of Bunuel's "Belle de Jour".
Peppered with the original illustrations throughout , this volume is translated with subtlety by Brendan King and is a must for admirers of Huymans' work.