HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Map and the Territory (2010)

by Michel Houellebecq

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,563519,824 (3.75)57
Having made his name with an exhibition of photographs of Michelin roadmaps - beautiful works that won praise from every corner of the art world - Jed Martin is now emerging from a ten-year hiatus. And he has had some good news. It has nothing to do with his broken boiler, the approach of another lamentably awkward annual Christmas dinner with his father or the memory of his doomed love affair with the beautiful Olga. It is that, for his new exhibition, he has secured the involvement of none other than the French novelist Michel Houellebecq. The great writer has agreed to write the text for the exhibition guide, for which he will be paid handsomely and also have his portrait painted by Jed. The exhibition - 'Professions', a series of portraits of ordinary and extraordinary people at work - brings Jed new levels of global fame. Yet his boiler is still broken, his ailing father flirts with oblivion and, worse still, he is contacted by one Inspector Jasselin, who requests his assistance in solving an unspeakable, atrocious and gruesome crime. Art, money, fathers, sons, death, love and the transformation of France into a tourist paradise come together to create a daringly playful and original twist on the contemporary novel from a modern master of the form.… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 57 mentions

English (26)  French (11)  Dutch (6)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  German (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (51)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Excellent writing, but I had some problems with the content. I had a hard time with the fact that the protagonist, Jed Martin, was almost devoid of feeling and having warm relationships, despite some wonderful people and gruesome incidents he runs into.
( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
Both of the Houellebecq books I've read have been great, filled with a sort of resigned spirit of detachment yet very funny at the same time. I liked this one slightly more than The Elementary Particles though; Horace Walpole's famous line of "This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel" could have been its epigram (though its actual epigram of "The world is weary of me - and I am weary of it" is quite fitting as well). I wouldn't call his writing style "typically French" or anything, since he certainly doesn't have the same worldview that the other French authors I've read have, yet his subtle brand of humor seems perfectly suited to the changing French landscape that he explores here, as well as his other themes of abstraction and misanthropy.

I wasn't sure if the title was a reference to the famous map-territory relationship in Borges' story "On Exactitude in Science" or not - there's a later passage on p. 73 where a Chinese art reviewer attempts to catalog the main character's works that reminds me somewhat of the ancient Chinese animal classification scheme in the other Borges story "Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge's Taxonomy", but it could just be coincidence or a translation quirk. Anyway, the title is perfect because the relationship between things and their representations is the central idea of the novel, from the way protagonist Jed Martin's paintings of Michelin road atlases and famous people (and his earlier photographs of industrial objects) get valorized to the discussions of his sometime-girlfriend Olga and her job at Michelin of steering tourists to the "authentic France" via online reviews of hotels which may or may not be authentic at all. Houellebecq has some great passages discussing authenticity in that respect, as when the only people still interested in traditional French culture are foreign tourists, or even the entire concept of a painter getting famous by taking pictures of the French equivalent of a Rand McNally road map.

But the book is really moving overall, and the concept parts are secondary to the story. Jed is a somewhat numb, anhedonic fellow, but Houellebecq is able to bring out real feeling and tragedy in this guy's life. His relationship with Olga is extremely sad, a singular love affair that never lived up to its potential, yet it doesn't feel self-pitying or tear-jerking. Similarly, the stretch on p. 135 where his father talks about his failed childhood efforts to build nests for swallows and how that influenced his architectural career is magnificent, even when put up against the other strong father-son scenes.

One of the most remarked-on features of the book is of course Houellebecq's decision to write himself into the novel. It doesn't feel self-indulgent or Clive Cussler-ish at all - surely no writer looking to preen would treat himself as poorly as Houellebecq does his alter ego here - it's done to help Houellebecq get in some jabs at the Parisian literary scene (the real Houellebecq is an expatriate also) and also to bring into sharp relief the protagonist's loneliness, which is partly due to his own character and partly due to the culture he lives in. In the book France is past its glory days, becoming more and more a hollowed-out simulacrum of itself in order to please tourists, and there's a theme of capitalism as alienator and atomizer, although the book's ruminations are never polemical or vulgar-Marxist. In fact there is a great stretch of writing discussing one of Jed's paintings on p. 117 featuring Bill Gates and Steve Jobs as two different heroic faces of capitalism that could never have been written by a lazy or reactionary writer. That that bit was from an introduction to Jed's works written by the novel-Houellebecq makes it even more thoughtful in context.

Again, though, this is really much more of a human novel than anything ideological in the strict sense. The humorous parts - a surprising amount; the book is actually very funny overall, such whenever a character starts thinking about gadgets or supermarkets - battle with the stretches of pathos in Jed's life, until Houellebecq ends the novel seemingly perfectly, on exactly the right graceful note: "The work that occupied the last years of Jed Martin's life can thus be seen - and this is the first interpretation that springs to mind - as a nostalgic meditation on the end of the Industrial Age in Europe, and, more generally, on the perishable and transitory nature of any human industry. This interpretation is, however, inadequate when one tries to make sense of the unease that grips us on seeing those pathetic Playmobil-type little figurines, lost in the middle of an abstract and immense futurist city, a city which itself crumbles and falls apart, then seems gradually to be scattered across the immense vegetation extending to infinity... They sink and seem for an instant to put up a struggle, before being suffocated by the superimposed layers of plants. Then everything becomes calm. There remains only the grass swaying in the wind. The triumph of vegetation is total." ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Exceptional and funny, Houllebecq tells a story about post-millennium life through stinging satire about the art world (via advertising, modernity and the end of rural life). An absolute treat of a book; a little slow in the second half but the weight of the writing hold it together throughout. ( )
  ephemeral_future | Aug 20, 2020 |
The third section initially gave me pause. It could've been mishandled. I had previously read a review in the UK press and was aware of this turn. The novel as with most of Houellebecq's other work is a chilling portrait of our reality, our naked humanity isn't what we'd hope for, it is slithering that way regardless. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
I went into this blind, suckered in by a Chip Kidd cover and that vaguely guilty feeling I get when I haven't read a 'new' new book in some time. I wasn't aware of Houellebecq's reputation, or the buzz surrounding this particular book. Both points worked in my favor.

At first 'The Map and the Territory' was simply a well-written, elegant depiction of an artist's development and, being French, ennui, as the novel extends into the faded but realistic future.

At first my enjoyment of the novel and the artist, Jed Martin, was attached to Houellebecq's craftsmanship (and the translators), but nothing about the story struck me. Even the post-modern inclusion of himself as a character didn't strike me as so unusual.

But then.

Houellebecq starts the last section of the novel with a scene from which it is impossible to disengage. The novel continues to be serene and poised, but the presence of that scene and the possibility of some conclusion makes the pages fly. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
De kaart en het gebied is niet alleen een intrigerende aanvulling op het sowieso al rijke oeuvre van Houellebecq, het is bovendien een overwegend melancholische, bijwijlen grappige, maar steeds weer scherpe analyse van 's mens eeuwige zoektocht naar zingeving.
added by Jozefus | editKnack, Bart van Loo (May 17, 2017)
 
Das ist vielleicht sein bester Roman! Denn Michel Houellebecq gelingt das Kunststück, eine Satire auf den gegenwärtigen Kunst- und Kulturbetrieb zu schreiben, einen echten Entwicklungsroman dazu, und das alles äußerst selbstironisch, völlig abgeklärt, voller Wärme, ja geradezu komisch.
 
[O]ok na vijf eerdere romans blijft het moeilijk de vinger te leggen op wat nu precies de magie is van Houellebecq. Zijn schrijfstijl is zakelijk, vlak, maar drijft daarmee juist ook de spot met iedere vorm van mooischrijverij. De compositie van zijn romans is doorzichtig, kinderachtig, soms met onhandige perspectiefwisselingen en cliffhangers, maar lijkt daarmee ook de vloer aan te vegen met al die goedwillende schrijvers die graag een gewrocht en intelligent ogend product afleveren. Wat Houellebecq-haters aanzien voor lelijkheid en onvermogen is natuurlijk juist zijn brille.
 

» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Houellebecq, Michelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowd, GavinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keynäs, VilleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
De wereld heeft genoeg van mij,
En ik al evenzeer van haar.


Charles d'Orléans
Dedication
First words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Jeff Koons was net overeind gekomen uit zijn stoel, zijn armen uitgestoken in een enthousiast gebaar.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
De handelswaarde van lijden en dood was groter geworden dan die van genot en seks, dacht Jed, en dat verklaarde waarschijnlijk ook waarom Jeff Koons een paar jaar tevoren door Damien Hirst van de eerste plaats op de mondiale kunstmarkt was verdrongen.
Last words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Having made his name with an exhibition of photographs of Michelin roadmaps - beautiful works that won praise from every corner of the art world - Jed Martin is now emerging from a ten-year hiatus. And he has had some good news. It has nothing to do with his broken boiler, the approach of another lamentably awkward annual Christmas dinner with his father or the memory of his doomed love affair with the beautiful Olga. It is that, for his new exhibition, he has secured the involvement of none other than the French novelist Michel Houellebecq. The great writer has agreed to write the text for the exhibition guide, for which he will be paid handsomely and also have his portrait painted by Jed. The exhibition - 'Professions', a series of portraits of ordinary and extraordinary people at work - brings Jed new levels of global fame. Yet his boiler is still broken, his ailing father flirts with oblivion and, worse still, he is contacted by one Inspector Jasselin, who requests his assistance in solving an unspeakable, atrocious and gruesome crime. Art, money, fathers, sons, death, love and the transformation of France into a tourist paradise come together to create a daringly playful and original twist on the contemporary novel from a modern master of the form.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Jed Martin is emerging from a ten year hiatus into the art world which aclaimed his exhibition of photographs. A doomed love affair and awkwardness with his Parisian architect father mars his concentration on his new exhibition plans involving a great writer. An Inspector Jasselin requests his assistance in solving an atrocious crime.
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.75)
0.5
1 8
1.5 2
2 19
2.5 14
3 71
3.5 51
4 182
4.5 34
5 57

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 180,193,753 books! | Top bar: Always visible