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Buitenlandse literatuur

Op bezoek bij Huysmans

Decadentisme en de Amerikaanse droom gaan ongeveer net zo moeilijk samen als decadentisme en ‘Nederlandse nuchterheid’, dus ook in de Amerikaanse letteren verscheen betrekkelijk weinig wat ‘decadentistisch’ genoemd zou kunnen worden. Een handjevol schrijvers komt in de buurt, voor zover ik weet: William Chambers Morrow (1854-1923,) George Sterling (1869-1926), James Elroy Flecker (1884-1915), Emma Frances Dawson (1838-1926) en misschien de meer bekende Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913).
Wat verlaat – in 1920 – verscheen de redelijk decadente roman The Painted Veils van James Huneker (1860-1921). En om deze vertraging wat te compenseren léést een van de hoofdpersonen, Ulick Invern, niet alleen de grote Fransen, hij gaat ook gewoon bij ze op de thee!:

‘He had encountered at one of the reunions in the famous Goncourt grenier, Henry James and also Joris Karl Huysmans, whose names in baptism were Charles Marie-George. For this misanthropic writer he had shown such a preference that he attracted the attention of his idol and was invited to call upon him at his home in the rue de Sèvres on the rive gauche. (…) He related, not without a certain muted pride, the advice of Barbey d’Aurevilly, the same advice Barbey had given Charles Baudelaire: that either the author of Là Bas must prostrate himself at the feet of Jesus crucified, or else blow out his brains. ‘C’est fait’ added Huysmans. It was shortly after the epoch of En route that he told Ulick of his conversion (…) Huysmans prodded his consience to such good effect that he accompanied the master to St. Sulpice, and also went with him when he made the rounds of the bookstalls along the Left Bank of the Seine. It was during one of these fascinating excursions in pursuit of ancient Latin hymnal literature that Ulick was presented to Remy de Gourmont, another of his favorite writers. A second friendship began, that long outlived the death of Huysmans. Maurice Barrès and his deification of the ego, was to be the third and principal étape in his moral development.’ (p.94-97)

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