Beyond the Paradox of the Nostalgic Modernist

Temporality in the Works of J.-K. Huysmans

by Elisabeth M. Donato (Author)
Monographs XI, 284 Pages


This investigation of J.-K. Huysmans’ representation of temporality sheds light on the complex and paradoxical nature of this late-nineteenth-century novelist and art critic, who was a modernist steeped in nostalgia as well as a nostalgic steeped in modernity. To unveil and understand the mechanisms and logic of this paradox, Elisabeth M. Donato examines Huysmans’ characters’ dealings with measured time and schedules, investigates the failure of des Esseintes’ aesthetic experiment, and relates the novelist’s construct of «spiritualist naturalism» to his increasingly frequent and intense longings for his own medieval utopia. Donato’s new perspective onto the intricate relationship between modernity and nostalgia underscores Huysmans’ firm and very modern stance à rebours of commonality in his never ending search for a solution to his dilemma.


XI, 284
ISBN (Hardcover)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2004. XI, 284 pp.

Biographical notes

Elisabeth M. Donato (Author)

The Author: Elisabeth M. Donato received her Ph.D. in French literature from the University of Pittsburgh, and is Assistant Professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.


Title: Beyond the Paradox of the Nostalgic Modernist