Some books are smuggled into our lives in a way that almost begs supernatural interpretation; thus did I unintentionally come across Henri Barbusse's novel: 'HELL'(LeEnfer,Paris,1908); suspiciously placed in my path as by divine intervention. So profound are my affections for this short 250 page book that I cannot forsee the same fate for myself had I not been challenged into taking "the left-hand path" this devil's pitchfork on the road of life signalled. Our narrator is the very man Colin Wilson used to define "The Outsider" in the opening pages of that influential book; but OUR NARRATOR WHOSE NAME APPEARS NOWHERE is much more than a reference point for late 20th century Art Historical/ Cultural Studies. He is witness to the unspeakable visions of the individual that any sensitive, intelligent young man would see if he were to cast one dark, unholy, voyeuristic eye and the other a tender, humanitarian, all-recording lens that must saturate itself in tears if it is to continue to bear looking any longer at the horrible woes of humankind. Our narrator has barely any hope left, all he has in the world is a hole in the wall in which to view, the world; more specifically, Paris around the turn of the 20th century. He suffers from the existential metaphysical horror of existence so prevalent in young men of his disposition, who are more concerned with deep matters of the soul than with eeking out a life of dull servitude amongst the financial fanfare of society. It is no surprise Robert Baldick, translator of J.K.Huysmans': "Against Nature"(A Rebours, 1884) chose to translate Barbusse's early novel, although vast differences exist between the two they are of like spiritual & reclusive considerations of new ways of experiencing the world on a much more intimate level than Naturalism or Realism; they process their thoughts to an intensive, hitherto unrealized degree that is considered "Decadent" by many. The things our narrator sees are everything that most young men are fascinated about: sexuality being high on the list. But it is not just tender LESBIANS devouring each other's venusian mounds that one must encourageingly suffer: ADULTERY, evoking feelings of jealousy in an innocent bystander(?)made of an eye peering at two lover's guilty squirmings; guilty, but like beauty, only in the eye of the voyeur. CHILDBIRTH is seen in all it's horrifying surgical mystery, bloody as only murder can compare, in which a slimy monster is squeezed out of a hole small as the one our narrator sees through; a hole usually reserved for sublime violation in the mind of a young man. DEATH plays a dirge on our narrator's heartstrings that marks the novel with an "X" on its forehead, setting it apart from other more common scenarios, giving our young man "steeped in the infinite" a chance to further his evolutionary spiritual career in that he may play for a while at being an old man's guardian Angel. These examples should suffice to give those attracted, with perhaps voyeuristic tendencies and a love of immortal Literature an idea of the scale and depths probed by this all-seeing eye in a motel wall. The language is entirely of late Symbolist/Decadent persuasion, poetically lyrical yet realistic and focused in its descriptions; Octave Mirbeau and J.K. Huysmans come to mind. But the book singularly occupies the celestial heights of voyeuristic literature, it has no comparison and is second to none. Its eye is an all-knowing, all-encompassing specimen. I believe it is the only novel of its kind Barbusse wrote, who went on in the surrealist years to be involved with political activities, bearing no evidence of further work in this artistic/spiritual realm in which he wholly succeeded in by birthing this literary only-child of its kind.