J K Huysmans

Joris-Karl Huysmans was a French writer writing mainly in the 19th century. He wrote a trilogy  of books centering on Durtal who undergoes the change from a dissolute disaffected youth who at one time participates in a black mass (supposed to be based on a real life experience) to a conversion to catholic mysticism.  This eventually requires him to confess to the abbot of a Benedictine monastery the aforementioned evil deed during the course of a retreat ( in En Route). The description of the turmoil this produces I found deeply moving, probably based on my own experiences when I was a practising catholic.  The listing of confess-able sins that I would trot out at each session (every three weeks as I recall) included the obvious – lying, disobedient to parents etc and then trying to consciously forget the mortal sins (usually of the flesh) because if I could not remember them then I would be absolved of all my sins, including the ones I had conveniently forgot. Otherwise, to take communion with a mortal sin un-absolved would be the worse sin of all – sacrilege. Durtal faced the same dilemma…

For Kindle readers, all  of the books are available for free. The series comprises of:

La Bas (Down There)

En Route

La Cathedral