PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
First published in 1880, same year as Edgar Degas' The Dancing Lesson and Edouard Manet's solo show of brasserie paintings at La Vie Moderne gallery, J.-K. Huysmans' Parisian Sketches shares with these vibrant Impressionist works a fascination with the contemporary life of Paris, an exuberant Paris in the era of the Opéra Garnier and the Folies-Bergères. Like the striking images of the early Impressionists, whom Huysmans championed when it was unfashionable to do so, Parisian Sketches is an all-out assault on the visual senses. Composed of a series of intense, meticulously observed impressions - of café concerts and circus performers, of streetwalkers and hot-chestnut sellers, of run-down slums and forgotten quarters in the grimy, shiny 'City of Light'- Parisian Sketches recreates the Paris of the bal masqué and the cancan, the brasseries à femme and the buveurs d'absinthe, all captured with an intimacy and an immediacy that confirms Huysmans as one of the masters of 19th century French prose.
Huysmans captures the pre-Haussmann Paris which was soon to disappear with his big boulevards and extensive building programme. An impressionist masterpiece in words.