H.P. Lovecraft: Contre le monde, contre la vie
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H.P. Lovecraft: Contre le monde, contre la vie

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,121 ratings  ·  85 reviews
[This book is written in French.]

Dans cet essai, Michel Houellebecq parcourt un itinéraire hors du commun et rend hommage à Lovecraft pour s'être situé dans cet "ailleurs absolu" et propose un plaidoyer pour une littérature vertigineuse. Lovecraft, l'un des maîtres du fantastique fut un être étrange à la mesure de ces récits terifiants. Un livre à ne pas lire sans tranqui

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Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 1st 1999 by iUniverse (first published 1991)
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Jason Pettus
(Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)

For Americans who don't know -- there's this French dude named Michel Houellebecq who a lot of Europeans are super pissed at. And that's because he's a writer, see, a brilliant one, who also happens to be a misanthrope, and who sincerely despises just about 98 percent of all humanity, and takes great care to detail all the ways they deserve his hatred in his provocative novels, which have all been b...more
R.
A must. A misanthrope essaying a misanthrope. Read by a misanthrope. All created by a misanthropic God? Am I missing anything? Nope.

Update: A great remix of the Mountain Goats' "Lovecraft in Brooklyn" : http://youtube.com/watch?v=PvkMEoqmbBA
Josh
Reading a book by one of your current favorite authors about your all-time favorite author is possibly one of the best literary experiences I can imagine.

In H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life Michel Houellebecq, the bitterly cynical, oft-misunderstood French misanthrope and champion of 21st-century nihilism, attempts to demystify exactly what it is about Lovecraft's fiction that has allowed it to remain fresh and relevant after nearly a century.

And he succeeds in ways I never though...more
Jeremy
I am a great fan of Lovecraft. I confess to finding his work curiously profound, finding in the great Cthonic deities and the cosmic scope of evil some basic truth about reality. There is a great dearth of secondary literature on Lovecraft, so mostly I've looked elsewhere for the satisfaction of my curiosity (a curiosity Lovecraft's protagonists always fail to resist to their misfortune.) This book was tremendously helpful to recognizing what is it about Lovecraft with his florid tones and uneas...more
Matthew W
"H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life" is an excellent(albeit brief)analysis and survey of Lovecraft's life and its central influence on his work. The reason this is such an excellent and bold work is because Houellebecq pays tribute (in a most personal way) to a fellow writer. Some will find this book to be offensive, but few will have enough ammo to argue against Houellebecq uncompromising conclusions and lucid insights. I also found Houellebecq's writing to be more interesting and...more
Matthias
Houellebecq - pronounced, I was disappointed to learn recently, "wheel-back," not "hollaback" - is probably most famous as a relusive, misanthropic reactionary, and incidentally a really excellent prose stylist. A singularly well-placed author, then, to write a longish Lovecraft biography/critical essay/literary manifesto - how to classify it, precisely, is neither clear nor at all important.

Like certain kinds of good literature, Houellebecq renders his subject sympathetic precisely by revealin...more
R.
Il s'agit bien d'un essai de Michel Houellebecq consacré à l'un de ses auteurs favoris Howard Phillips Lovecraft. H.P. Lovecraft est l'un des maîtres du récit fantastique et d'horreur. Dans ce court essai, Michel Houellebecq étudie l'homme et son oeuvre et cherche à trouver des parralléles. Ce n'est ni une biographie ni une étude approfondie de l'oeuvre mais un subtil mélange entre les deux pour n'en garder que le meilleur. Il évoque l'inadaptabilité sociale de l'auteur, ses difficultés avec l'a...more
Henrik
Read this a year or two ago. While I disagree with Houellebecq on some, main, points, I still value that he takes the issue of HPL & his stories serious and has true respect for it.

Also, it is fascinating to read something which is on one hand scholarly-like and on the other fiction (he claims that this is really his first novel); only a French author could get away with that, I think;-)

Contrary to many I quite like Stephen King's foreword to this edition--even if he makes the blunder of dec...more
Derek Baldwin
If I had paid for this book rather than borrowed it I would be feeling really cheated: Houellebacq's text is no more than one-third of the volume. 100 pages or so. Padding it out are two of Lovecraft's novellas, which fall into what Houellebecq terms Lovecraft's "great texts". Much of the text is fairly general waffle which would be a B+ grade university dissertation. This is merged with an "antibiography" (which was quite interesting, to be fair) and the sum of these parts really just isn't tha...more
Guy Haley

H.P. Lovecraft’s work and mind dissected by another novelist with a dark worldview, introduced by Stephen King, no less.

If you want further proof of H.P. Lovecraft’s fear of life, look no further than French novelist Houellebecq’s magnificent essay. No great lover of the world himself (here he describes life as “painful and disappointing”), Houellebecq is closer to the common experience of humanity than Lovecraft. He acts a bridge between the recluse of Providence and ourselves, and what insight...more
Artur Coelho
Houellebecq, escritor de obra polémica, não é nenhum estranho às zonas desoladas dos limites literários. Neste erudito ensaio analisa a vida e obra do escritor de Providence, cuja curta e discreta vida não viria a prever a fama póstuma e profunda influência que viria a ter na literatura fantástica. Houellebecq olha para o carácter retrógrado de um homem que não pertencia ao tempo contemporâneo onde viveu, preferindo viver uma imagem idealizada de uma concepção antiquada. As suas falhas, o óbvio...more
Luke
In his introduction to the English version of Houellebecq's short book on HP Lovecraft, Stephen King suggests that the French academic (and misanthrope) has written a literary mash note to the cosmic-doom fantasist.

And I really have to agree. Houellebecq approaches from his trademark people-are-shit viewpoint, and is ruthless (though always affectionate) about Lovecraft. HPL's racism isn't given an easy pass with that man-of-his-time apologies that're often bandied by his fans - it's instead giv...more
Spoonbridge
A surprisingly breezy, quick read, I found much to ponder in Houellebecq's analysis of Lovecraft's work. Houellebecq's argument that Lovecraft's genius sprung from his hatred of the world, indeed, that all art originates from a distaste for the "real," is an interesting one but I am not sure that I can truly agree with it. It is definitely some food for thought. It also contains my two favorite stories written by HPL as well.
Lee
Come for Houellebecq's essay about Lovecraft (wherein, in 1991, Michel essentially drafts the thematic and stylistic blueprint for his future novels), but stay for the suprisingly awesome Lovecraft tales. (I rarely have nightmares but have since reading these -- seriously!)
Billy
This was a wonderful analysis of Lovecraft, whose writing I'm only just beginning to explore. Houellebecq and I seem to share a similar world view. Many of his insights here have helped to expand and clarify my thinking on similar themes in my own writing and artwork.
Finbarr Heather
Astonishingly astute, insightful and empathetic look into the mind and heart of a profoundly troubled and unique man. Dispels a great many widely held unsubstantiated hypotheses and focuses on what we really know. A brief and succinct piece of work but an indispensible one for those who wish to gain a better understanding of the mind which changed the face of the universe of weird fiction. Although Houellebecq's own fiction ostensibly bears no resemblance to that Lovecraft, this essay combines s...more
Andres Olave
un libro totalmente necesario para comprender la naturaleza del mundo en el que vivimos: “los héroes de Lovecraft se despojan de cualquier signo de vida, renuncian a cualquier alegría humana, se convierten en meros intelectos, espíritus puros que aspiran a una única meta: la búsqueda del conocimiento. Al final del camino les espera una espantosa revelación: desde las marismas de Louisiana a las mesetas heladas del desierto antártico, desde el corazón de Nueva York a los sombríos valles de Vermon...more
Marcello Farnè
This book helped me developing a different (and clearer) view on what are the deep roots of HPL's horror.

Every horror stems from the shocking revelation of fear and fear always relates to the unknown. So what was the source of HPL's fear?

I had postulated that it might relate to the revelation of the breadth of our universe, the wideness and chaos of which were progressively uncovered in the 20th century through knwoledge developments such as quantum theory or psychoanalysis, which undermined th...more
Ronald
I read this book at the library about a week ago. What follows are my notes as I was reading this book:
A brilliant study....first published in France in 1991 and translated into English a few years ago...evocatively written, like a novel.
Lovecraft created a great popular myth, which is rare in literature...of the Great Old Ones Houellebecq writes "they have heard the roars of the very first mammals and will know the howls of agony of the very last."
Contrasts the approach of H.P. Lovecraft with...more
Ştefan Bolea
Houellebecq wrote H. P. Lovecraft: Contre le monde, contre la vie in 1991, three years before publishing his debut novel, Whatever (Extension du domaine de la lutte). His book on Lovecraft, translated into English in 2005, is the avant-garde which precedes Houellebecq’s great war machine. I would consider the oeuvre a pseudo-auto-biography, reminiscent of Baudelaire’s perception of Poe, of Nietzsche’s Schopenhauer as Educator and, clearly of Savater’s graduation thesis on Cioran. To make it clea...more
Alexander Polsky
Is HP Lovecraft an awful writer? A brilliant writer? The victim of a dare to use "ichthous" and more often in published work than any sane editor would permit?

What he is is relentlessly obsessive, a compelling racist, a neurasthenic who managed to find mythic horror in the everyday. That's his great gift, an engaging paranoia that each new advance of human civilization, each new item in the newspaper, is the key to some devastating horror just beyond.

Lovecraft lived and died poor, without much r...more
Nick Tramdack
A great study of Lovecraft.

24:"In general, few authors, even amongst those most entrenched in fantasy literature, have made so few concessions to the real."
41: "And what is startling is that all attempts at [biographical] demystification have failed."
47: Astute observation: 'Supernatural Horror in Literature' doesn't take into consideration Lovecraft's own contributions to the genre.
61: "Obscurely and unpleasantly, there is also the fact that a novelist tackling the subject of life in general...more
Sophie
Ouvrage intéressant et bien écrit sur l'oeuvre de Lovecraft, H.P. Lovecraft, contre le monde, contre la vie reste toutefois très en surface et fait beaucoup de biographisme inintéressant quant à l'analyse des nouvelles et de la poésie du Maître de Providence. C'est une lecture qui était plaisante, mais qui, hormis quelques extraits, restait du côté du déjà vu pour moi. Il s'agit d'un bon livre d'introduction, mais il faut être prévenu contre son côté légèrement réducteur.
Christian
More readable than most of Lovecraft's stories (perhaps because Houllebecq uses quotes that could not be sourced) this essay interprets Creepy Howie's reactionary racism as a principled rejection of all life. Houllebecq is an author with the heart of a fanboy, and he explains and demonstrates Lovecraft's lasting power and his impression on his growing cult. A great intro by Stephen King and a few of Lovecraft's more famous stories round out the collection.
S Suzanne
I somehow became a dedicated member of the Lovecraft cult sometime in my pre-adolescent years.. 11 or 12 - perfect time to discover him, right?

His shadow falls over many things I get intrigued by in life, and I have come back to him again and again. I am drawn to his hysterics.

I think Houellbecq gets quite a bit right about HPL, and enjoy his insight, even if I am not misanthropic. I think one thing he points to that I appreciate is the way Lovecraft's deliberate and unconscious limitations cre...more
Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Το διάβασα με πολλή προσοχή, μιας και μου το πρότεινε πολύ αγαπητός φίλος. Η ανάγνωσή του με άφησε μουδιασμένη. Δεν είναι ότι δεν καταλαβαίνω την οπτική γωνία του Ουελμπέκ. Απλά κάποια πράγματα όσο πραγματικά ή πιθανά και να φαίνονται είναι δύσκολο να σε κάνουν να ενθουσιαστείς. Αν μη τι άλλο, δυσκολεύομαι να καταλάβω τους ανθρώπους που είναι «ενάντια στη ζωή». Πιθανόν να συμβαίνει αυτό γιατί η εν λόγω κοσμοθεωρία είναι εντελώς ξένη με τη δική μου.
Justyna Chwiedczenia
Jest to książka autora, którego lubię o autorze, którego uwielbiam ze wstępem pisarza, którego kocham. To musi się dobrze skończyć.
Ale czy tak jest w istocie? To dobry esej, nawet bardzo, ale mam poczucie niewykorzystanego potencjału. Houellebecq jedynie nadgryza temat, a resztę ciasta zostawia w lodówce. Szkoda, ale rozumiem, że jest to esej, w którym nie ma tyle miejsca co w biografii. Z książki nie dowiedziałam się niczego nowego, ale Lovecraft od dawna zalicza się do grona moich ulubionych p...more
Louise Brown
Oct 29, 2008 Louise Brown rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Houellebecq and Lovecraft fans
If you love Michel Houellebecq you'll find this fascinating. Howard Phillips Lovecraft is an underrated tale teller and misanthrope with an amazing imagination, the influence of which can be felt in Houellebecq's works especially the last, The Possibility of an Island. And even tho, at times, Houellebecq gets as close to a hagiography as one can with a sexless racist, his explanation of Lovecraft's life and works is a captivating read due in no small part to the quality of Houellebecq's writin...more
Gabriel
The inclusion of the two stories at the end is, frankly, bizarre, and runs a bit contrary to the exultation Houellebecq claims is due Lovecraft here, as it makes the book seem rather pulp-ish after all. But they are two of Houellebecq's "great texts," and of course worth reading; I wished for Houellebecq's commentary (in the light of the essay, it would have been a perfect demonstration of his sometimes outlandish (or at any rate, intentionally controversial) claims), but Believer Books, sadly,...more
Electric Funeral
Sehr interessantes Essay von Houellebecq über H.P. Lovecraft, einen Autor, der großen Einfluss auf mein Leseverhalten als Teenager hatte. Ein Misantroph schreibt über einen noch ärgeren Misantrophen. Besonders die Analyse der literarischen Techniken die Lovecraft laut MH angewendet hat war gewinnbringend zu lesen wenn man sich fragt "wie hat er das gemacht?" Offensichtlich indem er jede Regel missachtet hat die man heutzutage in Creative Writing Kursen beigebracht bekommt. Solange ein starkes Mo...more
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Michel Houellebecq (born Michel Thomas), born 26 February 1958 (birth certificate) or 1956 on the French island of Réunion, is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. To admirers he is a writer in the tradition of literary provocation that reaches back to the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire; to detractors he is a peddler of sleaze and shock. Having written poetry and a biography of the h...more
More about Michel Houellebecq...
The Elementary Particles Platform The Possibility of an Island La carte et le territoire Whatever

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“Those who love life do not read. Nor do they go to the movies, actually. No matter what might be said, access to the artistic universe is more or less entirely the preserve of those who are a little fed up with the world.” 147 likes
“Few beings have ever been so impregnated, pierced to the core, by the conviction of the absolute futility of human aspiration. The universe is nothing but a furtive arrangement of elementary particles. A figure in transition toward chaos. That is what will finally prevail. The human race will disappear. Other races in turn will appear and disappear. The skies will be glacial and empty, traversed by the feeble light of half-dead stars. These too will disappear. Everything will disappear. And human actions are as free and as stripped of meaning as the unfettered movements of the elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, sentiments? Pure ‘Victorian fictions.’ All that exists is egotism. Cold, intact, and radiant.” 43 likes
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