Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Books Both Old & New
The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > The Absinthe Library
Hemingway's Hangover
Marthe: The Story of a Whore by J.K. Huysmans, translated by Brendan King.
There have been a series of new Huysmans translations by Mr. King released under the Dedalus imprint in recent years; the only one that mentions absinthe specifically is this, Huysman's first published novel. He didn't become a "decadent" writer until a little later in his career, however: at this time he was still a loyal Zola disciple and the text falls very neatly into the category of Naturalism. As to be expected, it is the tale of a courtesan's rise and fall due to alcohol. Absinthe makes two brief appearances, both in exchanges between the titular prostitute and her bohemian boyfriend Leo, first as celebration and then to alleviate suffering. The novel ends with a grisly autopsy that serves as moral against the evils of addiction.

Although the other Huysman translations never mention absinthe specifically they are still well worth a read. Mr. King's translation of La Bas nicely preserves the mounting dread and claustrophobic darkness of the protagonist Durtal's descent into Satanism and ends on a dry note of comic relief that makes a nice in-joke for students of French history. Parisian Sketches is worth the paperback cost simply for the chapter that spends a few pages discussing the various erotic odors emanating from the underarms of Parisian grisettes.

Imbibe! by David Wondrich even includes la fee verte in its subtitle (from absinthe cocktail to whiskey smash, a salute in stories and drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, pioneer of the American Bar), and the drink receives reasonable coverage between the covers; the author even expresses his affection for Jade Edouard in an early passage. The Sazerac receives a sizable entry and absinthe is a common cocktail ingredient throughout the book. There are also many early American recipes included in the narration: my favorite non-absinthe drink has to be the one consumed by Ethan Allen and his crew the night before they took Fort Ticonderoga; called the "Stone Wall", it was simply equal amounts whiskey and hard cider. Ouch.

The Decadent Handbook for the Modern Libertine, edited by Rowan Pelling, is terrible and I seriously recommend that anyone thinking of purchasing the book carefully examine their copy beforehand. There are small pieces of Wilde, Dowson and other British decadents sprinkled throughout the text but with the exception of an early short essay (The Flaming Heart Becomes a Fount of Tears by Philip Langeskov, an examination of the link between decadent artists and terminal disease) the selections are from modern English "decadents" and almost entirely worthless. Most wouldn't make it into Maxim so I'm not sure why they were allowed to pass muster here, unless it was to fill page count. There seems to be some connection to Green Bohemia and the La Fee brand (the editor is drinking a glass and rather obviously holding a bottle of their product label-forward), so that might help explain the weak content.

All right, that's it for now. I have a few more on the burner and I will post them as I go.
Oxygenee
Nice reviews, thank you.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Invision Power Board © 2001-2018 Invision Power Services, Inc.