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Against Nature [Format Kindle]

Joris-Karl Huysmans , Patrick McGuinness

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

The hero of this curious novel is des Esseintes, a neurasthenic aristocrat who has turned his back on the vulgarity of modern life and retreated to an isolated country villa. Here, accompanied only by a couple of silent servants, he pursues his obsessions with exotic flowers, rare gems, and complex perfumes and embarks on a series of increasingly strange aesthetic experiments, starting with the decision to give his giant pet tortoise a jewel-encrusted shell...

Book Description

Resisting the traditional model of nineteenth-century fiction, Joris-Karl Huysman produced in 1884 a novel unlike any other of his time. Against Nature is the story of Des Esseintes, an aesthete who attempts to escape Paris and, along with it, the vulgarity of modern life. As Des Esseintes hides away in his museum of high taste, Huysman offers the reader a treasury of cultural delights and anticipates many aspects of twentieth century modernism. Supplemented by notes and a critical introduction, this new translation is sure to engage today's reader.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 443 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 292 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0140447636
  • Editeur : Penguin; Édition : Rev Ed (1 mai 2003)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B002RI99BO
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°383.505 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  51 commentaires
79 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Damn right. 20 novembre 2001
Par GeoX - Publié sur Amazon.com
Against Nature utterly captivated me. Never before had I read a novel that dared throw any and all narrative convention to the winds with such mad abandon. Huysmans himself thought the public would have no interest in it, and to be perfectly honest, I can't for the life of me see why he wasn't absolutely correct. And yet, for some reason, I just couldn't get enough. Chapters that do nothing more than expound upon Des Esseintes's favorite painters or Latin writers amount to little more than reader abuse, but I found them endlessly fascinating regardless. No doubt part of this was nothing more than shocked delight at the sheer perversity of the little experiment, but I don't think my interest was entirely predicated on novelty--Huysmans is actually quite a good writer (I read the Penguin edition, as translated by Robert Baldick, for what its worth), and Des Esseintes's whims, desires, and recollections are often so extravagantly bizarre as to be quite funny. And then, of course, there's the 'plants' chapter, which is quite probably the most grotesque and macabre thing I've ever read. It's a bit of a shame that it's stuck right in the middle of the book, as it does make the subsequent material seem a bit anticlimactic, but then again, if Huysmans had any sort of regard for narrative structure, he wouldn't have written this diabolical piece of work in the first place. If Zola was Pink Floyd, Huysmans was the Sex Pistols. You need to read Against Nature.
86 internautes sur 92 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 A poor substitute for Baldick's translation 9 juin 2003
Par Theolonius - Publié sur Amazon.com
Frankly, I wrote this commentary on Margaret Mauldon's translation of A Rebours to divert the buyer to a much better one, that is, the classic translation by Robert Baldick, also available from Amazon.com.
This new modernized translation is supposed to be truer to the french original text, but it is not so. It's thorny and crammed with clashing sentences and too many words. Take for instance the prologue,
"Cramped and confined within those old frames where their great shoulders stretched across from side to side..."
Now compare this with Baldick's version which is more to the point,
"Imprisoned in old picture-frames which were scarcely wide enough for their broad shoulders.."
It's also obvious that Baldick's translation is much truer to the musical language that Huysmans wrote his book in. In fact Baldick mentions it in his preface to the translation. His assesment of A Rebours is also valuable for the understanding of the author's accomplishment.
The only thing valuable in this poor substitute is the appendix which consists of Huysmans' preface to A Rebours written twenty years after the novel. But to compare Baldick's translation, written in the late fifties, with this grammatical scramble is like comparing a nightingale's song to a cricket's. I sincerely recommend you rather buy Baldick's translation over this one.
33 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Best edition of decadent classic 22 août 1997
Par Michael Gebert - Publié sur Amazon.com
Assuming that this "Viking" edition is in fact the Penguin edition or some relation, this is by far the preferred edition of Huysmans' strange masterwork. The translation by Robert Baldick, Huysmans' most trustworthy biographer, is not only NOT slightly censored like the earlier English one reprinted by Dover... it's also a much livelier read. Which is important because, after all, there's not much of a conventional plot here; the story such as it is depicts the gradual enervation of a decadent aristocrat as he exhausts the pleasure to be found in every pleasure he can think of.
Huysmans was literature's great complainer, capable of finding the misery and ennui in any situation-- even bachelorhood in late 19th century Paris. And while the book is regarded mainly as a manual for decadent living (Dorian Gray kept it by his bed), full of recherche and recondite indulgences, Huysmans' depiction of the unending quest for novelty and sensation is also drolly funny at times-- as in the scene in which an impotent des Esseintes takes up with a ventriloquist in the hopes that she can get a rise out of him by impersonating her own husband threatening violence outside the door while they copulate
20 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This is the one to get! 20 août 2005
Par James J. Omeara - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I'll assume that you already know about this book, or can get what you need from the other reviews. I'm just focusing on the edition: the 2004 Penguin Classics reprint of Robert Baldick's 1956 translation but with a new introduction and notes by Patrick McGuinness (and a new cover, of which more anon).

Now, I think of myself as a Huysmans 'completist,' and would have thought that I have a copy of just about every edition. But I've never seen this one in a bookstore (even here in NYC) and only came across it by accident on Amazon. As other reviewers have noted, the translation, though older, is much more readable than the Oxford Classics one. The latter has far more annotation, especially for the surveys of Latin and French "decadent" literature, but you really don't need that for more than your first reading. This is the edition to get if you plan to revisit the work from time to time, as I did (and do).

Why else? Well, the Oxford edtion is printed on cheap, thin paper that browned almost immediately, and produces irritating "see-through" effects; the cover, of my copy at least, instantly creased itself rather than folding, making it hard to hold (and ugly). This Penguin is on bright, white paper, and with larger type (though consequently is also a bit larger in size). Des Esseintes would approve!

But the main reasons are two: the intro, and the cover. McGuinness does a much better, or at least more interesting, job of relating the book to its time and ours, bringing in far more interesting tie-ins (Breton's "black 'umour" rather than "Huysmans's anality", Marianne Faithful saying she'd only bed guys who read the book, rather than Oxford's cringe-inducing comparison to Kurt Cobain(!)), though unlike Terry Hale in his introduction to the Penguin La Bas, he doesn't pick up on the fact that Huysmans' job at the "Interior Ministry" was actually comparable to our Dept. of Homeland Security rather than the traffic bureau.

But it was the cover that first led me to notice this on Amazon. It's a wonderful portrait by Franz Kupka (not Kafka!), "The Yellow Scale," which depicts an amazingly burnt out aesthetic type, wrapped up in a yellow robe, yellow book (of course) in one hand, and cigarette burning out in his other limp, yellow hand. Against the rest of the regulation black Penguin Classics cover, it's quite striking, and far more original than the old cover, Whistler's portrait of Montesquiou, or Oxford's Salome.

(While McGuinness's intro makes a good case for "Against the Grain" as a better title, beware of the Dover edtion under that name: it's old and expurgated, as is the illustrated one from the '30s). Buyer beware!)

In short, this is the one to get for the true Huysmaniac!
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Decadence and gravitas 14 février 2002
Par Knut Oyangen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Who is Des Esseintes? A misanthrope, a learned man, a skeptical Catholic, a Schopenhauerian pessimist, an aesthete of the highest order. What is Des Esseintes like? Serious, thoughtful, anxious, emotional, reclusive, self-centered. Why do I know so much about this man? Because this 'novel' is really a description of Des Esseintes, a thorough investigation of his mind, his desires, his doubts, his dreams, his tastes and his illusions. It is a study so personal and penetrating as to be necessarily autobiographical, yet most of the book is not really about the man himself, but rather his tastes in literature, art and other fine things.
The work reminds one variously of an essay on aesthetics and a treatise on the modern condition, as we learn about Des Esseintes' thoughts and (more importantly) the emotions awakened by reading Petronius, Baudelaire, Dickens or Schopenhauer, or studying the paintings of Goya, Rembrandt, or Moreau. He lives in an isolated house far from company, and spends his time arranging his surroundings in predetermined ways: shelfing his priceless books, hanging his morbid paintings on the wall, color co-ordinating his furniture with extreme care, sorting his liqueurs. He does not want the world created by nature and history, he wants to create his own life and environment from scratch with only aestethic, philosophical and emotional considerations. This is what makes him decadent: the longing of a civilized man to create a new world all to himself, focusing single-mindedly on details, letting sensuality, form, and beauty reign over rules and rationality.
At the same time, Huysmans/Des Esseintes clearly struggles with the main problem of modern moral philosophy: how to live in a world without the order imposed and the meaning endowed by faith in absolute truth, transcendence and immortality. Having been taught in a Jesuit college, Des Esseintes longs for the sacraments and security of the Church, but is at the same time repulsed by its absurdities and full of doubts about its message. He seeks consolation in the pessimism of Schopenhauer, in denying life and the worth of human beings, in imagining evil and repugnant acts against all that is sacred. Yet this fierce movement back and forth between extremes never leads him to a higher unity and synthesis, it serves only to make him more neuralgic, dyspeptic and malevolent. He is too much of a perfectionist to be satisfied, too disturbed to be happy.
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