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American Psycho (1991) - Bret Easton Ellis

Related: American literature - psycho - 1900s literature - Bret Easton Ellis - serial killer - transgressive fiction - unreliable narrator

American Psycho (1991) - Bret Easton Ellis [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"The text which most fully represents the spirit of Huysmans's À Rebours in recent years, both in terms of its 'nihilism' and its melancholy relationship to it, was published by Bret Easton Ellis in 1991. American Psycho is the fictional account of a New York executive called Patrick Bateman, whose determined retreat from reality is signified by his infatutation with brand name clothing and his slavish adherence to the prescriptions of the apparently inviolable texts such as the Zagat restaurant guide and Bruce Boyer's Elegance: A Guide to Quality in menswear" --Cynicism and Postmodernity (1997) - Timothy Bewes [Jul 2006]

American Psycho (1991) - Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho (1991) is a novel by Bret Easton Ellis about a young Manhattanite serial killer . It was made into a movie in 2000.

American Psycho is set in the late 1980s, mainly in Manhattan. The novel describes roughly two years of the life of Patrick Bateman, the first person narrator. Bateman, 26 years old at the beginning of the story, is a serial killer and cannibal who remains undetected throughout the novel and is never brought to justice. Coming from a rich WASP background, Bateman has studied at Harvard (he is one of the class of '84) and has turned into a seemingly prototypical yuppie. He works as a Wall Street banker at the firm of Pierce & Pierce.

One of the things that remains a mystery is what happens to the mutilated bodies of two escort girls which Bateman leaves in Paul Owen's apartment. When he wants to let himself into the dead man's apartment again he encounters a real estate agent and a young couple, her clients, with Owen's furniture still there but everything completely intact and clean. On asking the real estate agent what is going on, he is just told not to make any trouble and to leave again. Some people think that this means that the real estate agency has removed the bodies in order to avoid troubles. Others think that this shows that Bateman has not really committed these murders, he may have been dreaming or lying about them.

[...] Patrick Bateman not only drinks his own urine, he also bites off and swallows one of the nipples of a girl he is having sex with; he cuts out Bethany's tongue while she is still alive; he eats a girl's brain after he has slaughtered her; and he decapitates a woman, puts his erect penis into the mouth of her severed head and walks around the room with it, laughing.

In the novel, Bateman describes how he kills and tortures several people:

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Psycho [Jan 2005]

Des Esseintes and Patrick Bateman

The novel that best illustrates the spirit of the decadents is À Rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans, the breviary of decadence.
Jean Les Floressas Des Esseintes, the last son of a tired family, turns his back to the world to create an artificial world in his home. Suffering from ennui and spleen, this "degenerate" avoids every contact with people, and surrounds himself with art objects which are the last things which succeed to stimulate him. He experiments with his senses. Eventually, one of his greatest challenges is the eating of a hump of grimy bread. For the man who has climbed the pinnacle of aesthetic pleasure, the only thing that provides kicks is the most depraved.
"This was the end; as if all possible delights of the flesh were exhausted, he felt sated, worn out with weariness; his senses fell into lethargy, impotence was not far of."
Someone who has seen everything will not be surprised easily, will not feel anything any more. Only at the boundary of the imaginable can he experience that his senses and emotions still function. A similar problem haunts Patrick Bateman, ancestor of des Esseintes, hero of our time and protagonist of American Psycho (1991), the third novel by Bret Easton Ellis. This book is just as illustrative of the 1990s zeitgeist as À Rebours was for the fin de siècle of the 19th century.
Bateman commits horrible crimes (or imagines committing them). He does so because only then is he able to feel something, 'the very rarest of occasions - a rush of adrenaline'. His 'seriously weakened capability to feel anything whatsoever' leads him to extreme violence. Bateman suffers from a typically decadent disease: his senses have been dulled. He needs extreme stimulation to feel. He lives in a world of too much, an age brimming with muchness.
Patrick Bateman is a dandy suffering from spleen and ennui, with an 'incurable, deep wound, the result of supersaturation, disappointment and contempt in a sickened mind, tormented by the present, loathing from the past, already discouraged by and afraid of the future' He has everything, probably twice, but he suffers. From the Pepsi Max-feeling.
--Rob van Erkelens via http://www.groene.nl/1995/04_05/pepsi.html, translation mine [Jan 2005]

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