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A study of the aphorisms in Joris-Karl Huysmans' A Rebours

Grant number: 14/26579-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2015
Effective date (End): December 31, 2015
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature - Modern Foreign Literatures
Principal researcher:Antonio Alcir Bernardez Pecora
Grantee:Maria Elisa Perez Pagan
Home Institution: Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem (IEL). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


The object of this research project is a study of the aphorisms in the novel A Rebours [Against the grain], by Joris-Karl Huysmans, widely regarded as 'the Bible of the Decadent movement'. The work will consist in identifying and parsing textual fragments that could be characterized as aphorisms in order to analyze them as such. Systematization and interpretation of these fragments might endorse the interpretative hypothesis that each one of them crystallizes a determined idea: if A Rebours can be considered as the Bible of the Decadent movement, the series of aphorisms can evidence, as in a book of wisdom, teachings of moral and conduct - or Baudelairian "aristocracy of spirit" - that a truly decadent subject should follow. However, such extravagant teachings might often be unbearable even for Des Esseintes himself, and his stumbles and failures will definitely remain excluded from any of the aphorisms. Finally, this project aims to create a specific typology in order to systematize and organize the aphorisms taking into account formal and interpretative aspects: from "metrical" analysis (following the typology established by Barthes in order to analyze the maxims of La Rochefoucauld) to the nebulous relationship between the voices that belong to the narrator and to Des Esseintes.

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