HUYGENS'S PRINCIPLE. See Licur.
HTlYSMANS, Joins-KARL (1848 —). A French novelist, born in Paris. of a Flemish family, some members of which had achieved distinction as painters at Antwerp in the seventeenth century. Ile began literary life as a disciple of the crassest realism, as one may see by the fact of his contribution to Len ,'oinks de Medan. His novels present every stage of an evolution from sensual materialism. through spiritualism and Satanism to Christian mysti cism. in which there is indeed a curious strain of the sensual and material still. Marthe (Mi) is a study of sordid prostitution, coinciding signifi eantly in (late with Concourt's and Zola's L'assommoir, In Les seicurs retard (1879) Huysmans shows himself still a dilet tante of moral anguish, sordid wretchedness, and contemptible vice. En mimoae (IRS]) is a evnical commendation of marriage and A vau-l'eau (1894) is a tour de force in nauseating de scription. Then in A rcbours (1884) Huystuans turns as it were in a fierce desperation from materialism to a frenzied spiritualism. "All that transfigures or transforms reality enchants him," he makes his hero say. After this there are some barren years save for the insignificant En rade (1837) and Una dilcmnre (1337). Then LAI-bas (1891) carries the psychic evolution a step fur ther in a morbid treatment of astrology and Satanism. This recrudescence of the occult and reassertion of the extra-natural suggests a fas cinated contemplation of religious mysticism. and
in En route ( S96) MT find Huysmans indeed `on the road' toward such Christianity as may be consistent with pessimism. From this point the progress is steady and the course plain. La eatlic'dralc (1897) carries the reader to the door of a Benedictine retreat, and L'oblate (1393) ushers him within. All this latter work is full of "fingering spiritual muscles to see if they are growing;" it is thoroughly morbid, but thorough ly characteristic, too, of a French generation weary of material progress and of all problems save those that defy solution. Yet in spite of glaring errors of taste, in spite of a recondite vocabulary and of a studied absence of structural unity, these novels are perhaps the frankest and subtlest analyses of the progress of a pilgrim soul since Bunyan's Christian allegory. And they are essentially autobiographic; for Buys mans, like his hero, retreated for some time to a Trappist monastery, and became an unpro fessed member of the Benedictine community at Solesmes, "too much a man of letters to be a monk, too mach a monk to stay among men of letters," as is said of Durtal in the conclusion of En route, which is to English readers the most attractive of all his works and "one of the mast characteristic novels of our quarter century." It is well translated by Began Paul.