Hot Best Seller

Without God: Michel Houellebecq and Materialist Horror

Availability: Ready to download

Michel Houellebecq is France's most famous and controversial living novelist. Since his first novel in 1994, Houellebecq's work has been called pornographic, racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and vulgar. His caricature appeared on the cover of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day that Islamist militants killed twelve people in an attack on thei Michel Houellebecq is France's most famous and controversial living novelist. Since his first novel in 1994, Houellebecq's work has been called pornographic, racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and vulgar. His caricature appeared on the cover of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day that Islamist militants killed twelve people in an attack on their offices and also the day that his most recent novel, Soumission--the story of France in 2022 under a Muslim president--appeared in bookstores. Without God uses religion as a lens to examine how Houellebecq gives voice to the underside of the progressive ethos that has animated French and Western social, political, and religious thought since the 1960s. Focusing on Houellebecq's complicated relationship with religion, Louis Betty shows that the novelist, who is at best agnostic, "is a deeply and unavoidably religious writer." In exploring the religious, theological, and philosophical aspects of Houellebecq's work, Betty situates the author within the broader context of a French and Anglo-American history of ideas--ideas such as utopian socialism, the sociology of secularization, and quantum physics. Materialism, Betty contends, is the true destroyer of human intimacy and spirituality in Houellebecq's work; the prevailing worldview it conveys is one of nihilism and hedonism in a postmodern, post-Christian Europe. In Betty's analysis, "materialist horror" emerges as a philosophical and aesthetic concept that describes and amplifies contemporary moral and social decadence in Houellebecq's fiction.


Compare

Michel Houellebecq is France's most famous and controversial living novelist. Since his first novel in 1994, Houellebecq's work has been called pornographic, racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and vulgar. His caricature appeared on the cover of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day that Islamist militants killed twelve people in an attack on thei Michel Houellebecq is France's most famous and controversial living novelist. Since his first novel in 1994, Houellebecq's work has been called pornographic, racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and vulgar. His caricature appeared on the cover of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, the day that Islamist militants killed twelve people in an attack on their offices and also the day that his most recent novel, Soumission--the story of France in 2022 under a Muslim president--appeared in bookstores. Without God uses religion as a lens to examine how Houellebecq gives voice to the underside of the progressive ethos that has animated French and Western social, political, and religious thought since the 1960s. Focusing on Houellebecq's complicated relationship with religion, Louis Betty shows that the novelist, who is at best agnostic, "is a deeply and unavoidably religious writer." In exploring the religious, theological, and philosophical aspects of Houellebecq's work, Betty situates the author within the broader context of a French and Anglo-American history of ideas--ideas such as utopian socialism, the sociology of secularization, and quantum physics. Materialism, Betty contends, is the true destroyer of human intimacy and spirituality in Houellebecq's work; the prevailing worldview it conveys is one of nihilism and hedonism in a postmodern, post-Christian Europe. In Betty's analysis, "materialist horror" emerges as a philosophical and aesthetic concept that describes and amplifies contemporary moral and social decadence in Houellebecq's fiction.

40 review for Without God: Michel Houellebecq and Materialist Horror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    Houellebecq is a curious writer who is difficult to categorize. However while reading Map of the Territory, I started looking for more explicative sources rather than the same recycled pap. For example, Updike's reviews seem more like pent up jealousy for never having written anything near as good. Betty is clearly a scholar and, accordingly, he has access to lots of material which has never been translated. He also pointed me to source documents and made it much easier for me to find what I want Houellebecq is a curious writer who is difficult to categorize. However while reading Map of the Territory, I started looking for more explicative sources rather than the same recycled pap. For example, Updike's reviews seem more like pent up jealousy for never having written anything near as good. Betty is clearly a scholar and, accordingly, he has access to lots of material which has never been translated. He also pointed me to source documents and made it much easier for me to find what I wanted to know. There are lots of them and the book between Houellebecq and Bernard-Henri Levy, Public Enemies, is every good at developing an understanding of Houellebecq and levy, for that matter. They both belong to an insular kind of particularly French intellectualism which is not easily understood. Does Michel Houellebecq really write materialistic horror stories. The short answer is yes, but the longer one is that he writes about materialism and technology and their ultimate ends, both without the capacity to answer human questions which we ask ourselves. It is not a world which Houellebecq has imagined or created out of his imagination, but one in which we either now live or will live. these are not sweeping over-generalizations, but simply following the logical conclusions of a modern Western society who has replaced God with materialism. There is some excellent writing on Schopenhauer and his effect on Houellebecq, but not so much on Nietzsche and I think that despite H not attributing Nietzsche openly, there is a powerful vein of his regeneration or evolutionary thought which enters H's later books. As to Schopenhauer, H would never accept his aesthetic contemplation as the only antidote to the misery of the human condition, but he does wallow about in the misery of the human condition often enough to make us believers. One of the only areas where Betty falls short is in his discussion of Houellebecq and God. H acknowledges in several of his books that God SHOULD exist, but he writes of characters unable to commit to Him. Hence, God is necessary but man is unwilling or unable, in H's view. While he explains H's fascination of the church through grandparental influence and then, later, with a friend's influence, it is not enough to explain these and not understand why H cannot commit to God. Betty is clearly a secularist and I regard that inadequate to understand matters of faith, much less God. It is my personal opinion, garnered directly from H's writing, (Houellebecq creates himself as a character in Map and has himself mutilated by a plastic surgeon who has a hideous collection of body parts where he is said to be playing God,) Houellebecq sees God as someone who plays games with people much like a child with a magnifying glass and ants in the sand. Like so many others these days, I believe that Houellebecq cannot get past what he believes is God's cruelty to those which He has created. In other words, to apply this to the reading of Job, Houellebecq sees God playing trivial games with Satan in which human beings suffer. While I believe that such a reading is misbegotten, this appears to be Houellebecq's stumbling block to faith. While this book is mostly for academics, given the circumstances and Houellebecq's fascination with misdirection and a Dali sense of the dramatic, getting to the foundation of H's writing is often very difficult. I much appreciate that Betty has written this rather short but well-researched and important book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Olle

    Otroligt bra bok som nog kräver att man läst åtminstone ett par av Houellebecqs böcker för att verkligen uppskatta den. Under min läsning ställdes jag återigen inför en fråga som plågat mig under det senaste året: Hur kan man som liberal uppskatta Houellebecq? Denna bok gav inget svar på frågan men gjorde mig mer övertygad att om man som liberal uppskattar Houellebecq gör man troligen sig skyldig till en väldigt annorlunda läsning av hans verk än den som jag (och Betty) gör.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Valentina Calvache

    Super useful to map out one of Houellebecq's urgent topics: hypermaterialism—the very failure of it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yuliya Yurchuk

    Дуже цікавий аналіз творчості Уельбека. Я читала лише частини про книжки, які я сама читала, від цього у мене не зовсім повна картина, але можу сказати точно, якщо ви фанати і прочитали всі романи Уельбека, то ця книжка буде для вас скарбом! Для себе ж я взяла багато цікавого про матеріалізм і про квантову фізику, наприклад:)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I’ve written like 4 different reviews about this book and it’s not really worth trying to revise anymore. If you’ve read a couple of Houellebecq books, this book is pretty great and posits an overarching theory that explores complex questions and themes Houellebecq hides behind his pathetic characters and vulgar shock value. Betty argues that Houellebecq is a deeply religious writer whose prescriptions for Western sickness and cures are rooted in religious thinking, despite being agnostic himself I’ve written like 4 different reviews about this book and it’s not really worth trying to revise anymore. If you’ve read a couple of Houellebecq books, this book is pretty great and posits an overarching theory that explores complex questions and themes Houellebecq hides behind his pathetic characters and vulgar shock value. Betty argues that Houellebecq is a deeply religious writer whose prescriptions for Western sickness and cures are rooted in religious thinking, despite being agnostic himself (basically the abandonment of religion as a binding force of stable society = chaos, depression, existential crisis and a return to religion, in literally whatever creative form, is the way to relieve the West of the chaos unleashed by liberal modernity). It’s a joy to read, with excellent analysis from the author and, in my opinion, will provide readers with a newfound appreciation for Houellebecq as something more than just provocative. If you haven’t read Houellebecq but are interested, at least read the Elementary Particles, Submission and the Possibility of an Island before you read this. Those books on their own ought to be a blast for you and this book will help tie everything up and organize your thoughts those books will stir up.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter Gelman

    Helpful critiques in contexts Worth buying if you enjoy a readable study of the ideas and cultural connections of Houellebecq's work. I'll read it again.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    A worthy monogram of an author whose writing may well be necessary reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Santino Dela

  9. 5 out of 5

    Trenton

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  11. 5 out of 5

    no

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robert Ekberg

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  14. 5 out of 5

    Matthijs

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hadrianus

  16. 4 out of 5

    s d

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alonso Herrasti martinez parente

  19. 4 out of 5

    Uxküll

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Massaglia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Pierce

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fatemeh M

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marcás

  27. 5 out of 5

    T.

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.U. Global

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenifer R.

  30. 5 out of 5

    M

  31. 4 out of 5

    Alexandre Alphonse

  32. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

  33. 4 out of 5

    Cbj

  34. 5 out of 5

    Nabil El-Sherif

  35. 5 out of 5

    Taewoong LEE

  36. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  37. 4 out of 5

    Usmaan

  38. 4 out of 5

    Rob Squires

  39. 4 out of 5

    r0b

  40. 5 out of 5

    Austin

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.