We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Joris-Karl Huysmans?

Niki Acker
By
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Joris-Karl Huysmans is the pen name of 19th century French novelist and art critic Charles-Marie-Georges Huysmans. His early works were in the Naturalist school, and he later wrote Symbolist and Catholic literature, paralleling his own conversion to Roman Catholicism. Huysmans is best remembered for his 1884 Décadent novel À rebours.

Joris-Karl Huysmans was born on 5 February 1848 in Paris, the son of a Dutch lithographer and a former school teacher. When Joris-Karl was eight, his father died, and his mother soon after remarried. After earning the baccalauréat, Huysmans held a clerical position in the French Ministry of the Interior for 32 years. He was drafted for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, but discharged due to dysentery.

Huysmans' first published book was a Décadent prose poem collection entitled Le drageoir à épices (1874). It was followed two years later by his first novel, Marthe, histoire d'un fille (Marthe, the Story of a Girl). This novel and those that would follow over the next decade were written in the Naturalist school and praised by Emile Zola. Marthe was about a prostitute, and other themes Huysmans explored in his early works included failed marriage, dead-end jobs, and everyday life in Paris.

À rebours, which details the increasingly bizarre entertainments of an effete, reclusive antihero, marked a turning point in Huysmans' career. Zola, among others, condemned the work, which represented a major departure in style for Huysmans. Critics were scandalized at the book's content. However, though the work lost its author some supporters, it gained him a new following among Symbolist and Décadent writers, including Oscar Wilde, Paul Valéry, and Stéphane Mallarmé. Wilde incorporated À rebours into his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, though he did not mention it by name.

A few more Décadent works were to follow À rebours, including En rade in 1887 and Là-Bas in 1891. The latter became notorious for its portrayal of Parisian Satanism and featured the debut of a recurring semi-autobiographical character in Huysmans' works, the writer Durtal. In Là-Bas, Durtal is working on a book about the medieval serial killer Giles de Rais when he finds himself torn between the influences of a pious cathedral bell-ringer and a woman involved in a Satanic cult who becomes his mistress.

Durtal would reappear in Huysmans' next two books, En route (1895) and La cathédrale (1898), which deal with the protagonist's conversion to Catholicism. La cathédrale became his best-selling work in his lifetime and allowed him to retire from his work as a civil servant. Durtal appeared in one more of Huysmans' novels, L'Oblat, in which he becomes an oblate, or a layperson dedicated to prayer. Durtal's experiences throughout Huysmans' work reflect the author's real life.

Huysmans became a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in 1892 for his work at the Ministry of the Interior, and was promoted to Officier in 1905 in honor of his contribution to French literature. Sadly, he was diagnosed with oral cancer the same year. Joris-Karl Huysmans passed away on 12 May 1907 and is buried in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.