In his view there were only two ways to arrange a bedroom: either make it into an exciting bed-chamber, a setting for nocturnal pleasures; or else devise a place of solitude and repose, a retreat for meditation, a kind of private chapel…

In the second case – and now that he intended to leave behind him the disturbing memories of his past life, this was the only possible choice – the bedroom must be contrived so as to resemble a monastic cell; but this gave rise to endless difficulties, since he refused to accept, for his own use, the ugly austerity characteristic of places of penitence and prayer.

By dint of considering and reconsidering every aspect of the problem, he concluded that the effect for which he was striving could be summed up in the following way: to furnish a depressing space with joyous objects, or rather, without sacrificing the ugly character of the room, imprint upon it, by this treatment, a kind of overall elegance and distinction; reverse the approach of a theatrical décor in which tawdry fabrics mimic luxurious, expensive cloths, achieve the impression of rags; in a word, to fit out a monastic cell which appeared to be genuine without, of course, actually being so.

J.K. Huysmans, Against Nature, p. 53-4

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