May 18, 1907.


J. K. HUYSMANS, who died on Sunday last after a prolonged illness, was a novelist who appealed forcibly to a small section of readers. Beginning as a writer of the Naturalist School, he was one of the five contributors to “Les Soirées de Médan,” the volume of stories planned by Zola and issued as the manifesto of the School. It was, however, by “à Rebours" a novel in which he definitely abandoned Naturalism, that he first came prominently into public notice. Its chief interest llies in its analysis of the over-subtle and morbid emotions of a mind keenly sensitive to artistic impressions. Huysmans was of Dutch descent, and his love of vivid colouring, as well as a certain nervous tension always present in his work, may be traced to his ancestry. His literary development entered on a new phase when he became a convert to Catholicism, and, after spending some time in the monastery of La Trappe, he produced in rapid succession, “En Route,” “L’Oblat,” “Sainte Lydwine de Schiedam,” “La Cathédrale,” and finally, “Les Foules de Lourdes.” Huysmans is principally interesting as being one of the most striking personalities who made the pilgrimage from realism to Catholicism. His work lacks spontaneity and serenity. It is destitute of repose, and although some of the descriptions in “La Cathédrale” are drawn with marvellous power, we doubt whether his work as a whole possesses any permanent qualities.