How easy it is to surf to a site and miss its general flavor. My last post mentioned Paul Newman’s great Erostratus essay. Now it seems that the Abraxas website is pretty much dedicated to the writer and critic Colin Wilson. He writes about existentialism, naturalism, European literature, sexuality, the usual stuff, and he has acclaimed books like The Outsider and Books in my Life. I enjoyed his essay on Huysmans and discovered among other things that one prostitute he had a liason with inspired Zola’s Nana. Huysmans Against Nature is one of my favorite books, but more for its wierdness than anything else. However, after reading this essay I would probably be willing to give his other books a go. Wilson summarizes:
And so, in retrospect, it is impossible not to feel that Huysmans? life was a sad moral fable. He possessed immense talent, even a touch of genius; the only thing he lacked was insight into his own boredom. But then, unlike his contemporary Nietzsche – whose life was in many ways so like his own – he was not a philosopher. In Zarathustra – whose essence lies in the comment: ?I have made my philosophy out of my will to health? – Nietzsche has left us a masterpiece of optimism of which Huysmans would have been incapable. But then, in his finest prose, Huysmans left us some masterpieces of atmosphere of which Nietzsche would have been incapable. That is achievement enough for any man.
On an unrelated note, I’ve started reading the poetry of Petrarch. Here’s a fine introductory website.