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  Two Sonnets - J.K. Huysmans Scissors & Paste Bibliographies - 1997

Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) is best known today, if he's read at all, for A Rebours (1884), the key work of the Decadent movement. His literary influences or styles, however, range from Le Drageoir aux épices (1874), prose poems in the manner of Baudelaire, through Marthe (1876), a novel about the life of a licensed prostitute written in the realistic fashion of Zola, to the ultimate decadence of A Rebours. His later novels follow the spiritual progress of Durtal (Huysmans himself it would seem) to a final acceptance of Catholicism via the curious route of Satanism, as depicted in the disturbing novel La Bàs (1891).

Huysmans' connection with erotica, tenuous though it is, probably stems from his novel Marthe. Because of its realism, he was obliged to have it printed outside France, and it was to Brussels and the erotica publisher Jules Gay that he went. There is a tradition that following the publication of Marthe, Huysmans was contracted to write an Introduction to a clandestine reprint of Gamiani, an erotic work first published in 1833 and usually ascribed to Alfred de Musset, that Gay was contemplating. However, no trace of such an edition appears to exist, and we must assume the story is apocryphal.

The two sonnets which are printed here for the first time in English appeared originally in Le Nouveau Parnasse Satyrique du dix-neuvième siècle (Bruxelles, 1881), published by Henry Kistemaeckers.