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French LaughterLiterary Humour from Diderot to Tournier$
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Walter Redfern

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199237579

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199237579.001.0001

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Huysmans: Back-to-Front, and Backpacking

Huysmans: Back-to-Front, and Backpacking

(p.62) 3 Huysmans: Back-to-Front, and Backpacking
French Laughter


Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Huysmans's humour lies so often in the antepositioning of adjectives (back-to-front again). A rebours's Duke Jean des Esseintes seems to be akin to the crazy scientist, alchemist, or breeder unable to sort the geep from the shoats. A rebours is a hybrid text: part narrative, part encyclopaedia, and now lyrical, now mordant. Sac au dos reveals Huysmans as down to earth (closet). This story proves how a sense of humour can preserve sanity, as well as breed mad inventiveness. En mènage directs the largely silent and non-violent scene with deadpan humour, or perhaps unconscious humour, which is equally poker-faced. La Retraite de Monsieur Bougran features a simulated utopia. It is perhaps the most bleakly comic take on bachelordom of Huysmans.

Keywords:   Huysmans, A rebours, Duke Jean, Sac au dos, En mènage, Monsieur Bougran

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