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Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take On Each Other and the World

3.4  ·  Rating details ·  627 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
The international publishing sensation is now available in the United States—two brilliant, controversial authors confront each other and their enemies in an unforgettable exchange of letters.
 
In one corner, Bernard-Henri Lévy, creator of the classic Barbarism with a Human Face, dismissed by the media as a wealthy, self-promoting, arrogant do-gooder. In the other, Michel H
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
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Stephen
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Which is the greater art form, poetry or the novel? Poetry promises greater emotional rewards but is so aloof with its heart, so imposing with its past love life, that most readers would prefer the safer communicability of the novel, that place where people tend to tell you exactly how they feel. Poetry looks like an object of pity, with no one talking to her (especially when she tells you exactly how she feels), looking so isolated and alone in the corner that most readers assume she somehow de ...more
Cbj
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like going to the bar with an author - Houellebecq, whose work I enjoy. But we are soon joined by another author - Levy, about whom I know nothing. The two of them proceed to ignore me completely as they discuss French writers, critics, philosophers and refer to incidents in French history. I find that I am way out of my depth.

I did enjoy some of the letters - especially the ones by Houellebeq. The ones where he discusses being hounded by critics was excellent. The one abo
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Simon
Aug 09, 2011 marked it as kill-me-if-i-ever-think-of-reading
OK, I had to start this new bookshelf just to put this book into it. Seriously, kill me if I ever think of reading this.
Mike
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pędzi jak odrzutowiec i czyta się to fenomenalnie. A po ostatniej stronie pozostaje tylko pustka i baba w tramwaju, której "artur ma jak najszybciej naprawić komputer bo nie gra muzyka".
Stenwjohnson
Jan 22, 2012 rated it liked it
You might be forgiven for snickering at the title of “Public Enemies,” Michel Houllebecq’s and Bernard-Henri Levy’s collection of email correspondence, before even cracking the cover. Far from a threat to the Republic, these two writers are card-carrying members of the Apollonian French literary/philosophical establishment. Any countercultural postures from these public intellectuals, in a country where the role carries real gravity, are bound to be at least a partial masquerade.

Levy, in particu
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Jonfaith
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
My rating will tend to cling to the Houellebecq sections as I find BHL ever-dull and prone to posing beyond his depth. Cher H's diatribes against contemporary public spaces (bubbles of enforced conformity between private residences) and the stench of political participation (leave it to the users, darling) are gripping reading and his recollections of his father and his childhood are quick to unsettle.
Todd
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is an exchange of letters between two French intellectuals, Michel Houellebecq and Bernard-Henri Levy, which start in a very acidic, self-effacing, insulting tone. Despite being on opposite ends of the political spectrum, they share the trait of being controversial, even hated and despised by the public (hence the book title). As the exchange of letters advances, they open up about themselves, talk about their families, their upbringing, their struggles, their ideas about art and artist ...more
T4ncr3d1
"Siamo un incontro di identità molteplici, spezzate, contraddittorie, in lotta le une con le altre, in pace, di nuovo in lotta. Non siamo un soggeto, siamo una voliera."

Dai dialoghi di platoniana memoria ai carteggi intellettualistici dell'età contemporanea, disparati sono i motivi, i temi e le suggestioni che nel corso del tempo hanno avviato scambi e confronti dialettici: ed ecco che piomba sulla Francia contemporanea, a ridare vigore, forse, a un confronto culturale che si è ridotto a una mon
...more
Willy Schuyesmans
Michel Houellebecq en Bernard-Henry Lévy: twee verguisde Franse schrijvers, veracht en uitgespuwd door de goegemeente, maar tegelijkertijd onweerstaanbaar. Alles bij elkaar hebben ze weinig gemeen, of althans dat denken ze. Van wie het idee komt, is niet helemaal duidelijk, maar op een dag ontmoeten ze elkaar en besluiten een correspondentie te starten. Geen snelle mails, nee, goede ouderwetse brieven waaraan gewerkt is, op gewroet, over nagedacht. In het begin proberen ze elkaar nog onderuit te ...more
Chris
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was interested in this book because I am a fan of Michel Houellebecq's novels and do not have much love for Bernard-Henri Levi. I knew that this was a series of open letters that the two authors penned to each other. As the title suggests, I expected it to be fairly contentious and I hoped that Houellbecq would win. What I got was something else entirely. Slow at first, the book developed and actually became a page turner as I couldn't wait to see each response. While much of the time it seems ...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...
“τι υπάρχει πίσω από αυτή την άρνηση, αυτή τη φοβία, αυτή την απόφαση να λέω όσο το δυνατόν λιγότερα και να μένω χωρίς ομολογία;” 1 likes
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