Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
The Elementary Particles (1998)
by Michel Houellebecq
» 14 more
20th Century Literature (1,020)
1,001 BYMRBYD Concensus (463)
To Read Shortlist (19)
Allie's Wishlist (118)
French Books (102)
No current Talk conversations about this book.
Life ending depressing ( )
Beginning with his strengths, Houellebecq can write good prose even in translation. I noticed a pattern by which he produces the impression of succinctness/completion by placing the second descriptive sentence of a paragraph at its end: What would have been the second introductory detail closes the following paragraph,
“...Sometimes he cycles cross-country, pedaling as hard as he can, filling his lungs with a taste of the infinite. He does not know it yet, but the infinity of childhood is a brief one. The countryside flashes past.”H. employs this twist many times, and I wouldn't call it a cheap trick.
Houellebecq doesn't write bad science fiction. He uses bad science to write bad fiction. Perhaps standards were different in the early aughts, but a modern reader can tell H. has no specialization or interest in science beyond its service in supporting his ideology. It is impossible to believe H.'s affected scientific tone with its repetitions and buzzwords, especially after having read the late work of DFW. (Compare this work with DFW's Mister Squishy, which allows the science to speak for itself and provide the negative space in which the story exists.)
The response to accusations of misogyny (and worse) remains that the author has somehow maintained a subtle form of ironic distance. We simply are too offended to provide an objective literary critique. Yet we all know that which is said half in jest is already more than truthful. It's incredibly naive to imagine that Houellebecq’s fans aren't enjoying precisely the 'misogynistic' aspects of the work they disavow in public. H.'s misogyny is well-tailored to the STEM youth of today, who appreciate any excuse to use 'science' to justify the social perspective they already possess. (Note: One finds a similar pattern within certain branches of ‘evo-psych’, which continues to gain popularity among reactionaries.)
Of course, it is possible to read work one disagrees with (and to enjoy it too!). Unfortunately that is not possible in this case, because such trappings as ‘prose’ and ‘style’ are more or less completely dissipated after the exposition. From then on it's a prolonged, unpleasant coitus until the epilogue. There, the pseudo-science makes a triumphant return, and we are made to believe that the ‘love’ portrayed in the novel, too archetypal and reactionary to be real, was something other than pure illusion.
Like "Dance to the Music of Time" but with fewer pages and more existentialist-tinged sex. Supposedly one of the main characters does something of extreme scientific importance, and it is very philosophical, but this is barely touched on. Basically, "asshole older French guy looking for love" and "not-quite-so-much-an-asshole-older-French-guy-as-the-first-guy-but-still-an-asshole looking for love."
Hugely ambitious, entertaining, squalid, dyspeptic, full of dour theatrics and grandiose hooey--I really enjoyed it.
How could anyone in their right mind even draw parallels between Houllebecq and Céline or well, Bukowski? It's almost like comparing a golden ingot to a lauded clod of cow dung. Its abysmal rottenness will force its way through your eyes and mind as much as the unbearable reek of putrid dump, and the sheer lack of remarkable content this book has to offer will wring out disgust out of you as the vacuous ramblings of this untalented mess of an author unveil themselves to give you the full picture of this masterpiece of tediousness. This book feels more like a 300 pages long wanking session rather than a 3rd person novel, now you can imagine yourself the atrocity of waiting so long to reach a climax leaving you with the same emptiness of the first pages. The one thing I might salvage? The cover, I've never seen a cover being so honest with its reader, but I can safely say it depicts extremely well what this book goes on about: absolutely nothing.
35 livres cultes à lire au moins une fois dans sa vie
Quels sont les romans qu'il faut avoir lu absolument ? Un livre culte qui transcende, fait réfléchir, frissonner, rire ou pleurer… La littérature est indéniablement créatrice d’émotions. Si vous êtes adeptes des classiques, ces titres devraient vous plaire.
De temps en temps, il n'y a vraiment rien de mieux que de se poser devant un bon bouquin, et d'oublier un instant le monde réel. Mais si vous êtes une grosse lectrice ou un gros lecteur, et que vous avez épuisé le stock de votre bibliothèque personnelle, laissez-vous tenter par ces quelques classiques de la littérature.
Trotzdem sind die "Elementarteilchen" kein nihilistisches Buch, denn sie enthalten auch eine positive Utopie. Und die liegt - hier ist Houellebecq wertkonservativ im besten Sinne des Wortes - in der Moral und in der Liebe. Wenn es schon im sechsten Kapitel des ersten Teils heißt, es "ließe sich behaupten, daß eine Gesellschaft, die von den reinen Prinzipien der universellen Moral geleitet wird, ebenso lange besteht wie die Welt", dann wird der Vision des geklonten Menschen eine Existenzform gegenübergestellt, der man sich zumindest annähern kann. Diese positive Utopie ist auch anderen Episoden des Romans eingeschrieben, nicht zuletzt den beiden Liebesgeschichten, die gerade durch ihre Unzulänglichkeiten so ergreifen. Noch hat die "Kampfzone" sich nicht in alle Bereiche menschlichen Lebens ausgeweitet: "Mitten in der großen natürlichen Barbarei ist es den Menschen manchmal (wenn auch selten) gelungen, kleine, warme, von der Liebe besonnte Plätze zu schaffen. Kleine, abgekapselte reservierte Bereiche, in denen Intersubjektivität und Liebe herrschten."
Belongs to Publisher Series
Compactos Anagrama (299)
J'ai lu (5602)
An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel–part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis-that leaps headlong into the malaise of contemporary existence. Bruno and Michel are half-brothers abandoned by their mother, an unabashed devotee of the drugged-out free-love world of the sixties. Bruno, the older, has become a raucously promiscuous hedonist himself, while Michel is an emotionally dead molecular biologist wholly immersed in the solitude of his work. Each is ultimately offered a final chance at genuine love, and what unfolds is a brilliantly caustic and unpredictable tale. Translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
No library descriptions found.
Amazon Kindle (0 editions)
Audible (0 editions)
CD Audiobook (0 editions)
Project Gutenberg (0 editions)
Google Books — Loading...
Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction
Is this you?
Become a LibraryThing Author.