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Elementaire deeltjes roman by Michel…

Elementaire deeltjes roman (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Michel Houellebecq

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4,138621,214 (3.6)118
Title:Elementaire deeltjes roman
Authors:Michel Houellebecq
Info:Amsterdam De Arbeiderspers cop. 1999
Collections:Your library

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The Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq (1998)


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English (45)  French (6)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Hebrew (1)  All (62)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
An odd combination of soft pornography and philosophy. As a commentary on life it does not lead anywhere in particular. In the end the demi-freres become evident constructs of argument rather than characters. Not disappointing but certainly not inspiring. ( )
  Steve38 | Jun 12, 2016 |
It’s no wonder this book is on the 1001 List for it speaks to the many circumstances that make up male and female society. A facile reading would speak only to the blatant sexuality at the expense of the deeper meanings that address all aspects of male and female relationships. The many salient points deserve a deeper discussion which is not possible in this review. Two half-brothers, Bruno and Michel, raised by different grandparents, each lose a significant female role model early in their lives, forcing them into the care of mentally and physically absent parents. For most of their lives, they are incapable of enjoying a bond with a woman; Michel lacks the desire while Bruno is filled with hatred and rage because he is sexually rejected. In late middle age, they are both rescued by loving women but unfortunately death comes to both women and the men are again cast adrift. Prudishly superficial readers will deny themselves the opportunity to engage in a deeper understanding of the human condition, which like it or not, we experience every day in all aspects of our lives. An interesting side note is during my reading, the news was filled with the shooting rampage of American Elliot Rodger, a sexually rejected young man who took revenge on the women who rejected him by gunning down anonymous women (and men) on a campus in California. The conclusion; sexually rejected young men in the U.S. resort to gun violence while in France, they resort to masturbation and prostitutes. I wrote this conclusion on the Shelfari group 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and was immediately removed from the group. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Je n'avais pas voulu m'interesser à ce livre à cause de la personnalité de l'auteur qui me rebutait.
Finalement j'ai eu tort, l'histoire est intéressante, écrite simplement sauf certain passages de type sociologiques ou philosophiques, et malgré aussi des passages très crus et vulgaires.On y trouve même de l'humour de façon assez provocante et discrète.
L'analyse du malaise civilisationnel de l'homme moderne et plutot valable et les perspectives futures sont douteuses, mais pourquoi pas! ( )
  Gerardlionel | Apr 1, 2016 |
Elementary particles is the story of two half-brothers who share the same, sex-crazed, hippie mother who abandons both boys to live in a commune. The story follows the consequences of maternal abandonment on the lives of these two brothers. Michel is asexual, unable to connect with others and emotionally detached. Bruno is also unable to connect with others but becomes obsessed with sex, is constantly fantasizing, masturbating, or trying to have sex with anyone. It is a critique on modern society and human beings’ inability to truly connect with others in any kind of meaningful way.

My primary thought on reading this book was that the author must have some major issues with sexuality and probably a dysfunctional relationship with his mother. Then I did some research on the author (about whom I knew nothing) and found out that he does indeed have a dysfunctional relationship with his mother and probably has some issues with intimacy. Anyway, I hated this book. It is not a style of writing I enjoy and the level of graphic descriptions of the characters sexual behaviors was pornographic and nauseating (and yes, I understand that he is challenging sexual liberation movement of the 1970s as a failure with respect to attaining happiness or connectedness with others). Characters engaged in large chunks of philosophizing dialogue that come as lecturing rather than dialogue between characters. I can recognize that there are some interesting theories (psychological and philosophical) within the book but I found it hard to give much credence to them because I was distracted by how much I hated the over sexualized style of writing to the extent that I was unable to appreciate the smarter elements of the book. However, there were flaws in the psychological theories that were presented in overly simplistic ways (e.g. loss of mother = either man who sexualizes all women or man with no sexual desire, etc.). Everything sprinkled with a good old dose of misogyny (the mother who abandons her children is selfish & irresponsible but no outrage toward the men who are simply bad at caretaking, “without beauty a girl is unhappy because he has missed her chance to be loved,” etc.) and a dash of racist comments. That said, I did appreciate the ending of the book and thought it was quite clever.
( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
This is an unusual book. Everything seems to be distant at the start with events related as if they happened a long time ago so I didn’t get nay sense of immediacy. Instead it seemed to be a mixture of the historical and philosophical in an esoteric way which I couldn’t follow. So at one point we have “Not one of them had heard of the EPR paradox or the Aspect experiments’ and then we have ‘Jakob Wilkening was born in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands. He arrived in France at the age of four, and had only a vague recollection of his Dutch childhood. In 1946 he married the sister of one of his best friends . . .He worked for a time in a factory making microscopes before setting up his own business crafting precision lenses principally for Angénieux and Pathé’ and later we find ‘France in the 1970s was marked by the controversy surrounding Phantom of the Paradise, A Clockwork Orange and Les Valseuses – three very different films whose success firmly established the commercial muscle of a youth culture based principally on sex and violence’. In other words, Houellebecq mixes a variety of styles in this book including some fairly graphic sexual accounts.

In often appearing to be some sort of social history, I think Houellebecq does have some interesting points to make about modern society. The discontinuity between generations where values keep shifting, he (or Bruno) says makes each person’s life ‘nothing more than the sum of his own experiences’. That Bruno and Michel have much the same thoughts about the uselessness of men, fighting each other, disrupting progress while women are more empathetic and loving reinforces this idea and gives the reader at the very least something to think about. I guess I’m thinking about the way in everyday news women get vilified by men who are so unreasonable. Today, for example, I read about Australian Greens senator, Sarah Hanson-Young being ridiculed by the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton who should have been apologising for having her spied on at the Nauru detention centre where he and the preponderance of male ministers keep asylum seekers in wretched conditions. It led me to empathise with the half-brothers’ and presumably Hoellebecq’s views. I like the way he also mentions the way men now play squash, ‘a lesser evil’ than the aggression they had used in earlier times to fight off bears. With sport so dominant in today’s western societies, I can see the appropriateness of this light-hearted reference to squash and the way, without religion, there are no tenets for people to live by, not that religion should be taken up just to provide a code of practices – far from it.

Ultimately this is a depressing book, coming back again and again to people’s degeneration, moral and physical. So when Michel and Annabelle come together aged 40, Houellebecq writes ‘ they were a couple of ageing human beings of little genetic value . . . life had long since begun its work of destruction, slowly eliminating the capacity of the cells to reproduce and organs to heal’. And of Annabelle’s and women’s lives in general as they get to this age: ‘they’re looking for a tender relationship that they never find, for a passion they no longer feel; so they begin the long, difficult years’. And Houellebecq extends this negativity still further by saying that their relationship stood no chance ‘in the midst of the suicide of the west’, something I feel neatly encapsulates the self-destruction we see in developed societies today.

So, while this is not a book to enjoy reading for its characters and what they do and what Houellebecq says, at times almost superfluously such as ‘in cemeteries all around the world, the recently deceased continued to rot in their graves, slowly becoming skeletons’, it is clear that the novel nails a lot of things that are wrong with mankind – ‘tortured, contradictory, individualistic, quarrelsome’ as we are. It’s a book to make the reader think somewhat uncomfortably about the nature of humans. ( )
  evening | Jun 14, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Houellebecq, Michelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haan, Martin deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keynäs, VilleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wynne, FrankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is principally the story of a man who lived out the greater part of his life in Western Europe, in the latter half of the twentieth century.
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Published in UK as Atomised, Published in US as The Elementary Particles
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099283360, Paperback)

Half-brothers Michel and Bruno have a mother in common but little else. Michel is a molecular biologist, a thinker and idealist, a man with no erotic life to speak of and little in the way of human society. Bruno, by contrast, is a libertine, though more in theory than in practice, his endless lust is all too rarely reciprocated. Both are symptomatic members of our atomised society, where religion has given way to shallow 'new age' philosophies and love to meaningless sexual connections. Atomised (Les Particules elementaires) tells the stories of the two brothers, but the real subject of the novel is the dismantling of contemporary society and its assumptions, its political incorrectness, and its caustic and penetrating asides on everything from anthropology to the problem pages of girls' magazines. A dissection of modern lives and loves. By turns funny, acid, infuriating, didactic, touching and visceral.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Follows the lives and fortunes of Bruno and Marcel, born to a bohemian mother during the 1960s, who are brought up separately and pursue their own individual paths-as Bruno battles madness and sexual obsession and Michel, a molecular biologist, comes up with a unique way to express his disgust with the violence of humankind.… (more)

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