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122 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1899
Wherever it appears, civilisation shows this face of sterile blood and forever dead ruins.
Honesty is inactive and sterile; it does not know how to evaluate appetites and ambitions, the only desires in which something durable is found.
The future seemed sadder and more desperate than winter twilight falling over the sick patient’s bedroom. And what new infamy would the wretched minister propose after dinner? How much deeper did he want to plunge me into the mire from which one did not return, causing me to vanish forever?
And the smells rising from the crowd – the smells of toilet and abattoir combined, the stench of carrion and the sweat of living flesh – sank my spirits and chilled me to the bone. I often felt the same lethargic torpor at evening in the Annam forests while the miasmas rose up from the deep humus and death lay in wait behind each flower, each leaf and each blade of grass. My breath almost failed me and I felt I was about to faint.
“Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he will always see that word: murder—immortally inscribed upon the pediment of that vast slaughterhouse—humanity.”
"Dear Clara," I objected, "is it really natural for you to seek sensuality in decomposition, and urge your desires to greater heights by horrible spectacles of suffering and death? Isn't that, to the contrary, a perversion of that nature whose cult you invoke, in order to perhaps excuse whatever criminal and monstrous quality your sensuality involves?" "No!" said Clara, quickly, "since love and death are the same thing! And since decomposition is the eternal resurrection of life...."How does one argue with a woman like that? If one is half in love with death, it's just a hop, skip, and a jump to the thing itself.