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Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Submission (2015)

by Michel Houellebecq

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9825212,550 (3.64)32
  1. 20
    Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans (JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: In "Unterwerfung" geht es um einen Professor der Literaturwissenschaften mit Schwerpunkt "Huysman". Entsprechend wird auch viel über Huysman gesprochen.
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    gianoulinetti: Sul tema della sottomissione della donna all'uomo
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» See also 32 mentions

English (22)  French (7)  German (6)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (4)  Italian (2)  Danish (2)  Hungarian (1)  Norwegian (Bokmål) (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
When it seems that Marine Le Pen's National Front has an even chance of winning the 2022 French elections, the Socialists and a centre-right party, the UMP, form a coalition with the apparently moderate Muslim Fraternity to make sure of defeating the racist, far-right National Front. The narrator clearly describes the compromises the parties must make, the long-held policies the socialists and the UMP must sacrifice, in order to make a deal. After the coalition wins the election, the Islamic religion and culture subsume French society. Women disappear from public life, the school leaving age is lowered to twelve, social welfare payments are eliminated, only Islamic educational institutions are publicly funded, Jews emigrate en masse, and men take multiple wives, some as young as fifteen.

Francois, the narrator, is a professor of literature at the Sorbonne, specialising in Huysmans, best known for Against the Grain, published in 1884, about the decadent life of the wealthy, aristocratic Des Esseintes, who was based partly on the infamous Robert de Montesquiou, who was also a model for Proust's Baron Charlus. Huysmans is a recurring theme in Submission. Francois compares the decadence of contemporary French society to the decadence of Huysmans' time, and the imposition of Islamic religion and culture to Huysmans eventually embracing the Catholic church. In order to keep his job at the Sorbonne, Francois would have to convert to Islam.

This is a comedy, but I gasped before I laughed. Francois is depressed and alienated, and cares for no-one. He is utterly neutral, taking no ethical stand whatsoever, guided only by his own self-interest, but his only interests are eating, drinking, smoking, sex and Huysmans. His colleagues are no better. French culture disappears as every man looks after himself.

Submission is a hugely entertaining and thought-provoking book. Read it. ( )
  pamelad | Jan 14, 2018 |
Is one allowed to appreciate Houellebecq? I do, and not only for the shades of Huysmans in this one. This is not only scary - it's credible. ( )
  jtck121166 | Nov 2, 2017 |
Intriguing premise, but disappointing in execusion. I struggled with the plausability in places and was irked by long passages of exposition delivered by characters. ( )
  tryphena | Oct 28, 2017 |
Francois is a professor and scholar at the Sorbonne, an expert on J.K. Huysmans. A womanizing bachelor, he is suffering a vague middle age malaise. There is an election going on in France, and Marine LePen's Party and the Islamist Party end up in the runoffs. In the final election, the Islamist Party wins, leading to major changes in French society. Overnight females can no longer teach at the Sorbonne. In fact, males cannot teach at the Sorbonne unless they convert to Islam. In addition, male faculty are encouraged to take multiple wives. Most Jews, including Francois's then girlfriend, leave the country. Francois can't decide what to do, and for the most part doesn't really seem to care.

I've read one other book by Houllebecq, I can't remember which, and I didn't like it at all. I intended never to read another book by him. Then this one came out, and the premise was interesting. This was easy to read, although it is not a novel of plot or character development. I didn't find it compelling. I'm afraid Houellebecq identifies too much with characters like Francois.

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 21, 2017 |
Although I understand this is supposed to be satire, I fear there may be quite a few Frenchmen who think secretly that it sounds pretty good. Rather chilling.
  cstebbins | Aug 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Submission is not a simple provocation. It is a deep, gripping and haunting novel which proves a culmination point of Houellebecq’s work so far and, in my view, a recent high-point for European fiction. I can think of no writer currently working who can get anywhere near Houellebecq’s achievement in finding a fictional way into the darkest and most necessary corners of our time. Nor can I think of another writer currently working who would be able to write a novel of this depth, scope and relevance while also making it witty and page-turning.

The most intelligent criticism to date has come from reviewers who have objected to one layer of the novel which relates to the academic specialism of the main character. Francois is a typical Houellebecq leading man: a middle-aged academic whose parents’ deaths have no effect on him, who has short relationships with his younger female students and who since separating from an attractive young Jewish student, with whom he still intermittently has sex, switches to prostitutes though finds his libido insufficiently diverted. When Francois flees the looming chaos in Paris by going to the significantly chosen town of Martel in the south of France he tries to interest himself in Cro-Magnon man. At one point he reflects, “Cro-Magnon man hunted mammoth and reindeer; the man of today can choose between an Auchan and a Leclerc, both supermarkets located in Souillac.”
Houellebecq signaleert een tendens, een kiem, en zijn roman is de broeikas waarin hij het proces versnelt en tot het uiterste doordenkt. Als je zo’n fictie in kort bestek navertelt krijgt dat onvermijdelijk iets karikaturaals, maar binnen deze roman voltrekken de veranderingen zich gestaag, subtiel en in grote lijnen overtuigend. Wat daar ook aan bijdraagt: het is, voor wie ontvankelijk is voor zijn humor, weer een echt geestige Houellebecq, de grappigste sinds Platform.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Houellebecqprimary authorall editionscalculated
Beguivin, AlanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cassau, NormaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, de HaanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stein, LorinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilczek, BerndTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Gedurende alle jaren van mijn naargeestige jeugd bleef Huysmans voor mij een metgezel, een trouwe vriend; nooit voelde ik twijfel, nooit overwoog ik op te geven of me op een ander onderwerp te richten.
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Op zondagochtend was er nooit veel verkeer op de snelweg, het is het moment waarop de samenleving ademt, haar luchtwegen vrijmaakt, het moment waarop haar leden de korte illusie van een individueel bestaan koesteren.
Maar ik besefte heel goed, al jaren zelfs, dat de groeiende kloof en inmiddels zelfs diepe afgrond tussen de bevolking en degenen die spraken in haar naam, politici en journalisten, onherroepelijk tot iets chaotisch, heftigs en onvoorspelbaars moest leiden.
‘En jij, wat ga jij doen? Wat denk je dat er op de universiteit gaat gebeuren?’

Ik liep tot op de drempel met haar mee; ik besefte dat ik er eigenlijk geen flauw idee van had; en ik besefte ook dat dat me geen ene moer kon schelen. Ik kuste haar zachtjes op de lippen en antwoordde toen: ‘Voor mij is er geen Israël.’
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
A controversial, intelligent, and mordantly funny new novel from France's most famous living literary figure

It's 2022. François is bored. He's a middle-aged lecturer at the New Sorbonne University and an expert on J. K. Huysmans, the famous nineteenth-century Decadent author. But François's own decadence is considerably smaller in scale. He sleeps with his students, eats microwave dinners, rereads Huysmans, queues up YouPorn.

Meanwhile, it's election season. And although Francois feels "about as political as a bath towel," things are getting pretty interesting. In an alliance with the Socialists, France's new Islamic party sweeps to power. Islamic law comes into force. Women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged, and François is offered an irresistible academic advancement--on the condition that he convert to Islam.

Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker has said of Submission that "Houellebecq is not merely a satirist but--more unusually--a sincere satirist, genuinely saddened by the absurdities of history and the madnesses of mankind." Michel Houellebecq's new book may be satirical and melancholic, but it is also hilarious, a comic masterpiece by one of France's great novelists.
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In a near-future France, François, a middle-aged academic, is watching his life slowly dwindle to nothing. His sex drive is diminished, his parents are dead, and his lifelong obsession--the ideas and works of the novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans--has led him nowhere. In a late-capitalist society where consumerism has become the new religion, François is spiritually barren, but seeking to fill the vacuum of his existence. And he is not alone. As the 2022 Presidential election approaches, two candidates emerge as favorites: Marine Le Pen of the Front National, and Muhammed Ben Abbes of the nascent Muslim Fraternity. Forming a controversial alliance with the mainstream parties, Ben Abbes sweeps to power, and overnight the country is transformed. Islamic law comes into force: women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged and, for François, life is set on a new course.… (more)

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Average: (3.64)
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2 16
2.5 15
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3.5 47
4 95
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