Bettie's Reviews > Submission

Submission by Michel Houellebecq
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Description: In a near-future France, François, a middle-aged academic, is watching his life slowly dwindle to nothing. His sex drive is diminished, his parents are dead, and his lifelong obsession – the ideas and works of the nineteenth-century novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans – has led him nowhere. In a late-capitalist society where consumerism has become the new religion, François is spiritually barren, but seeking to fill the vacuum of his existence.

And he is not alone. As the 2022 Presidential election approaches, two candidates emerge as favourites: Marine Le Pen of the Front National, and Muhammed Ben Abbes of the nascent Muslim Fraternity. Forming a controversial alliance with the mainstream parties, Ben Abbes sweeps to power, and overnight the country is transformed. Islamic law comes into force: women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged and, for François, life is set on a new course.

Submission is both a devastating satire and a profound meditation on isolation, faith and love. It is a startling new work by one of the most provocative and prescient novelists of today
:
“It is the mark of an educated mind 
to be able to entertain a thought
without accepting it.”

― Aristotle, Metaphysics


On the dartboard, before I have even read a page, is Rasputin and Le Pong, with faces turned into the board, natch: Russia 'bought' Marine Le Pen's support over Crimea: France's far-Right Front National accused of taking millions of pounds in loans from Russian bank as "reward" for backing Vladimir Putin on Crimea

Opening: Through all the years of my sad youth Huysmans remained a companion, a faithful friend; never once did I doubt him, never once was I tempted to drop him or take up another subjrct; then, one afternoon in June 2007, after waiting and putting it off as long as I could, even slightly longer than was allowed, I defended my dissertation, 'Joris-Karl Huysmans: Out of the Tunnel', before the jury of the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne.

I didn't plan on reading this just now, yet I couldn't put it down...

LATER: Although this did have a hook 'Submission' left me underwhelmed as Houllebecq's reputation (this is the first of his I'd encountered) promised me the baad boy of fiction. All he is is mysogynist, the sex was boy's playground snigger material, and the premise of this tale was singularly feckless and ultimately unbelievable. A word of praise for his sly humour though, I did chuckle along with the asides. Baseline 3* is all I can muster.

The penis would pass from one mouth to the other, tongues crossing paths like restless flocks of swallows in the sombre skies above Seine-et-Marne when they prepared to leave Europe for their winter migration."

Any images of urban violence mean more votes for the National Front. So for now the far right is stirring things up even more."

When a government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people, and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of rights and the most dispensable of duties."

Dithyrambic: A frenzied, impassioned choric hymn and dance of ancient Greece in honor of Dionysus; an impassioned oration
dyshidrosis : Dyshidrotic eczema, or dyshidrosis, is a skin condition in which blisters develop on the soles of your feet and/or the palms of your hands

Nick Drake Excellent! Page 31
Boris Cyrulnik
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Reading Progress

January 7, 2015 – Started Reading
January 7, 2015 – Shelved
January 20, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Cbj (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cbj I think the English translation isnt out until 2016 :(


Bettie Just ordered
:O)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review even though we didn't see it the same. Sorry you didn't enjoy it any more than that. I think you are right about the sex stuff which I glossed over.


message 4: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala Interesting thoughts on this one, Bettie - I got it for Christmas and hoped to read it soon so I'm even more curious now given your comments on the humour and the unputdownablity of it.
And yes, he always provokes with his damn misogyny though I thought it was less present in the most recent one I read, La Carte et le Territoire which I really enjoyed - maybe because it was partly set in Ireland and was a tribute to maps (I love maps) though the plot, just as you say here, was a bit unbelievable.


Bettie Don wrote: "Great review even though we didn't see it the same. Sorry you didn't enjoy it any more than that. I think you are right about the sex stuff which I glossed over."

Thanks Don. A lot of the novel he was just regurgitating Huysman factoids, and I had aqauinted myself with those and read H's 'rebours' just a couple of weeks ago. Even his philosophising circa page 212 was as surface as from humanities student first year level. Though to be fair - an end note states that he has never attended university.

Yep, disppointed.


Bettie Fionnuala wrote: "Interesting thoughts on this one, Bettie - I got it for Christmas and hoped to read it soon so I'm even more curious now given your comments on the humour and the unputdownablity of it.
And yes, h..."


Thanks Fionnuala. Although that book of maps and Ireland sounds intriguing, I can't see myself reading another from this author. I sucked it to see and found it empty. I'll stick to the earlier absurdists such as Kafka and Camus.

Oh, on the subject of Camus, Houellebecqs feckless, almost inanimate protaganist here reminds me of the disinterest displayed by The Stranger.
:O)


Bettie ETA @Fionnuala: Where I expected to be on the canvas in a mental half nelson, after all this was THE Houellebecq I'd heard so much about, the essence of non back-footedness was present throughout. Looking forward to your take...

Wrestling Print 1893 Half Nelson


message 8: by P-eggy (new)

P-eggy Great shelf names.


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