This is Huysman's sequel to La Bas, continuing the story of the semi-autobiographical protagonist Durtal. Horrified by the events which formed the climax of La Bas, Durtal turns to the Church for spiritual succor, only to find himself repelled both by the mediocrity of the faithful and his own base appetites. He drifts through an exploration of the churches of Paris, but it is only during a retreat at a Trappist monastery that he is forced to wrestle with his demons.
This is not an ordinary novel - there are no external conflicts or dramatic events (even La Bas had the affair between Durtal and Madame Chantelouve). The conflict is entirely internal, within Durtal's mind and soul. The author's Puginesque aestheticism and obsession with the "pure spirit of the Middle Ages" is also sometimes off-putting. En Route is, however, for those who appreciate its subtleties, an arresting story of grace and redemption.
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