In: KulturPoetik 2018, Heft 1


Stefan Bub


Eisenbauten zwischen Zukunftsvision und falschem Zauber. J.-K. Huysmans’ Le fer und Walter Benjamins Passagenarbeit im Vergleich




Joris-Karl Huysmansʼ literary work is characterized by his biting criticism of modern civilization, often combined with his aestheticism (and later with his conversion to Catholicism). The reader of his article Le fer, written on the occasion of the Universal Exposition of 1889, discovers surprising parallels with the image of cast-iron architecture in 19th century Paris in Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project, in which Huysmans appears only sporadi­cally. However, the comparison of relevant passages concerning iron constructions at the threshold of modernism shows the contrast between Benjamin’s »phantasmagoric« or utopian images and Huysmans’ mocking distortions.