Flowery language, over-the-top descriptions and hedonism in intense amounts has been something in literature that makes a great mix to fascinate me. But sometimes, it can turn into a bit of a mess. For example: the greatness of The Picture of Dorian Gray shows us each of these things in equal amounts with extended metaphors, hints and foreshadowings lurking around every corner. The symbolism is intense, fiery and yet added for impact only when necessary. Even in Marquis de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom, there is something incredible about the symbolism and hidden meaning presented in the text. Unfortunately, History of a Pleasure Seeker tried too hard to add all of these things into a story that was pretty half-baked from the beginning.
About a man called Piet Barol, this book starts off without any real character development. We just know that Piet seems to get by on his good looks and his wit. This is pretty much said or implied ad nauseam and instead of actually demonstrating it in detail, the writer chooses just to phrase 'he has good looks and wit' differently. Piet's mother has died and yet, there is no real grieving phase. Yes, it's there but again - it is half-baked without the theory that his intense focus on being liked by every fine woman he meets could be something almsot oedipal in the replacement of his mother. But that is for another time. What I'm trying to say is that the book is very surface-layer stuff.
Another thing I was not overly impressed with this book about is the unnecessary sexual content. Yes, some sexual content is alright and some of it was warranted, but a lot of it was kind of just there not making anyone feel any certain way and actually slightly boring and repetitive after a while. If sexual content was the goal, then it could have been at least better written with more atmosphere. There is a certain way of writing these olden sexual scenes and this really was not it. It had no real substance and the repetitive nature of it seemed to stall the story after a while. It felt overdone for the shock impact and yet, ironically lost it very quickly.
When it comes to the character of Piet, I thought that at times he was self-absorbed in a very strange way - it was almost like reading a really cliché personality style of Marquis De Sade. There wasn't any real depth and all of these 'sensations' that were happening over the course of his time in this side of Europe were honestly somewhat borrowed and made worse by the writing style of this book. It wasn't enough and didn't feel like the experiences were that deep, emotional or philosophical. There wasn't much deeper meaning and the whole thing was kind of just lost on me for a long while. I spent ages trying to think about this after reading the book and I just could not find anything that I well and truly thought was a brilliant idea or extended metaphor for a situation.
So all in all, I read this book with the expectations that after about one hundred pages or so, it would pick up and actually get into some real philosophical, moral and ethical depth - instead it just ended up being a cycle that kept getting repeated in different ways. Almost like a method, it became dry as a bone and just wore thin towards the end as the story lacked concept, the character lacked likability and the themes were just, well, lacking.