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Stranded

Published by Dedalus Books in 2010

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blue  Translated with an introduction and notes by Brendan King.

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Hounded by creditors and gripped by a deep existential gloom, Jacques Marles decides to flee Paris for the countryside, hoping to find shelter from the financial storms raging around his head, hoping to find peace. But Jacques soon discovers he cannot escape the problems of modern city life by hiding in the country. His Parisian creditors are exchanged for grasping peasants, and the soul-destroying competitiveness of bourgeois capitalism is replaced by the relentless ravages of nature. Stuck with his sick wife, Louise, in an abandoned ch√Ęteau that seems to be rotting to pieces around them, Jacques waits for money to arrive with nothing to do but give himself up to his increasingly disturbing dreams.

J.-K. Huysmans’ Stranded (En Rade 1887), published just three years after the iconoclastic Against Nature, sees him again breaking new ground and pushing back the boundaries of the novel form. Stamped throughout with his characteristic black humour, Stranded is one of Huysmans’ most innovative, most imaginative works. Jacques’ waking reveries and daydreams are balanced by a succession of dreams and nightmares that explore the seemingly irrational, often grotesque, world of unconscious desire, producing a series of images that are as unforgettable and unsettling as anything to be found in the decadent fantasies of Against Nature, or the Satanic obsessions of Là;-bas.