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En Route

Joris-Karl Huysmans

Book Overview: 

The second book by Huysmans concerning the religious development of the novelist Durtal, who in the first book ("La-bas") experienced depravity and Satanism. In this book he struggles desperately to find a foothold in the Catholic faith. He is aided by his aesthetic sensitivities and the support of an understanding priest. But it is not until he undertakes a retreat in a Trappist monastery that he achieves depth of spiritual transformation.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .the cupboards the same; and on one side massive cells with iron bedsteads, a stoneware jug; little peepholes in the doors secured by strong bolts, inside, scoundrels and thieves, gnashing their teeth, turning round and round, their hair on end, howling like caged animals; on the other side little rooms, furnished with a pallet-bed, a stoneware jug, a crucifix, these also closed by doors iron-banded, and within nuns or monks, kneeling on the flags, their faces clean cut against the light of a halo, their eyes lifted to heaven, their hands joined, raised from the ground in ecstasy, a pot of lilies at their side."

Then at the back of the canvas, between these two rows of houses, rises a great avenue, at the end of which in a dappled sky sits God the Father with Christ on His right, choirs of Seraphim playing on guitar and viol; God the Father immovable under his lofty tiara, His breast covered by His long beard, holds scales which balance exactly, the holy captive. . . Read More

Community Reviews

One of my favorite books of all-time. I'm not even remotely religious but the book was so sincere that I felt continually grateful that Huysmans was sharing such a personal story about religious conversion. I also found the work to be remarkably intense; I think every line was on the subject of conv

The continuance of the conversion of Durtal as begun in the richly descriptive La-Bas (Down There), as he wanders from church to church in Paris trying to obtain some sort of divine encounter particular to how he sees fit for such a discriminating individual as himself. Eventually, he is pointed to

A brilliant evocation of the interior journey of religious conversion: the reluctance, the glory, the resistance, the horror. I read, as students will, Au Rebours, and La Bas, for their shimmering decadence and self-loathing. The common thread through these novels for me is the search for authentic

Une œuvre étrange mais pénétrante.

Un personnage principal qui se saisit de toutes les questions que l'âme humaine puisse se poser sur la vie spirituelle et le monde surnaturel. Huysmans réussi le pari de nous montrer que nous sommes tous des Durtal en puissance. À quand une retraite à la Trappe ?


This is a very sweet--and bittersweet--novel of our hero Durtal's desperate desire to have done with evil and the tawdriness of Parisian literary life and convert to Catholicism wholly, coming as close to a medieval experience as the modern, fin-de-siecle world was probably willing to allow. To do s

In this brilliant yet bizarre work, J.K. Huysmans incorporates nineteenth century Catholic monasticism into "Fin-de-Siècle" decadence despite intending to do the opposite.
"En Route" is the second of four novels that trace the spiritual progression of Huysman's literary alter ego Durtal. The first no

Conversion Story

This is a book that, despite some imperfections, makes you want to embrace a life of solitude and silence. It has some beautiful lyrical passages.

Naklada Jurčić
Zagreb, 2012.
S francuskog preveo Božidar Petrač
Sam jezik je izrazito usporen, refleksivan, naracija se prekida brojnim retardacijama.
Pripovjedač je autodijegetički.
Radnja prati proces inicijacije samog protagonista, duhovna preobrazba se ogledava u fizičkom prelasku iz Pariza u jedan s

Should be read definitely after (or before) reading the "Submission" by Houelbecq. I think "En Route" wasn't just a peculiar case of a peculiar man in (spiritual) dire straits. You can really see that the 20th century spiritual crisis began and matured in late 19th century and that contemporaries we

This book is the saga of Durtal, the character from La-Bas, which I read and reviewed previously. Out of repugnance for society and his own dissolute life, Durtal turns to the Church. This is apparently roughly based on Huysmans’ own life. His path eventually leads him to a 10-day retreat at a Trapp

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