McCracken, S (2016) The commune in exile: urban insurrection and the production of international space. In: Nineteenth-Century Radical Traditions. Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture . Palgrave, London, pp. 113-136.

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Abstract

In Chapter 11 of J.-K. Huysmans’s A Rebours (1884; usually translated as Against Nature), Des Esseintes, its reclusive hero, inspired by reading Charles Dickens, leaves home with the intention of visiting London. He never arrives. Instead, he succeeds in experiencing the whole of London, England, and English culture in Paris, without even getting on the train. Wearing a suit made in London and placing ‘a small bowler on his head’, he envelops himself in a ‘flax-blue Inverness cape’ and sets off in grey, wet (typically English) weather. He buys a guidebook and calls into a restaurant that serves English food and drink. Surrounded by English men and women, he starts to think he is in a novel by Dickens. With time before his train leaves, he moves on to an English-style tavern, where he eats a meal of haddock, stilton, and rhubarb tart, washed down with two pints of ale, followed by coffee laced with gin. Satiated, he starts to lose his desire to travel: ‘What was the point of moving, when one could travel so splendidly just sitting in a chair. Wasn’t he in London now, surrounded by London’s smells, atmosphere, inhabitants, food, utensils?’ He decides: ‘In fact, I’ve experienced and I’ve seen what I wanted to experience and see. Ever since leaving home I’ve been steeped in English life.’ Returning home to Fontenay ‘with his trunks, packages, suitcases, rugs, umbrellas, and walking sticks’, he feels ‘as physically exhausted and morally spent as a man who comes home after a long and hazardous journey’.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: © The Author. This book chapter was deposited on the Keele Research Repository by the Author. The final published version of record (McCracken S. (2016) The Commune in Exile: Urban Insurrection and the Production of International Space. In: Bristow J., McDonagh J. (eds) Nineteenth-Century Radical Traditions. Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, London) is available online via Palgrave Macmillan at https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-59706-9_6 - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: literature, cultural studies
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2015 10:37
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2019 16:55
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/555

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