There is a feeling to this novel, or perhaps just my reaction to the narrator, that nothing matters. I get the impression that the narrator is what becomes the stereotypical starving artist, caring desperately for mankind and earth and caring for nothing at all.
While I am not shocked at the language of this book–I’ve read this and more–I’m sure it knocked a few noses out of joint in its time. There’s no real feeling however behind the character’s disgust with his friends, people who are not his friends, women he screws and those he hasn’t. There is an equal disgust for all and everything. Paris is great, Paris sucks.
In the little garden adjoining the Eglise St. Germain are a few dismounted gargoyles Monsters that jut forward with a terrifying plunge. On the benches, other monsters–old people, idiots, cripples, epileptics. Snoozing there quietly, waiting for the dinner bell to ring. (p. 38)
There’s some nice writing, yet it appears to me immature. It’s the tendency to spit in the face of tradition, reminiscent of the first papers submitted in a Creative Writing class with their overdoses of angry sex and bad words included just for effect.
I strongly suspect that this classic, more than most, has its effect based in the time it is read.