Eating Paris: J.-K. Huysmans's A vau-l'eau

J.-K. Huysmans's 1882 novella A-vau-l'eau pretents a complex portrait of an individual (Folantin), who is situated at the periphery of a modernity embodied by the all-engulfing city of Paris, the "capital of the nineteenth century." A passive witness to the creative destruction of the urban space under radical transformation, Huysmans's protagonist responds to the reborn city by unwittingly turning the consumption of its magical-offerings, and especially its legendary gastronomic culture, into a farce. Overturning urban myths, Huysmans critiques the notion of the modern metropolis as a space of commodified delights. However, Huysmans also implicates, using narratorial irony, escapist efforts such as Folantin's to withdraw from and deny modernity. (DK)
Kandiyoti, Dalia
Volume 1996-1997 Fall-Winter; 25(1-2): 167-78