Subscribe
Notify of
guest
44 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
10 months ago

Have read the whole article twice and I kept thinking of Monty Python.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Me too

David McDowell
David McDowell
10 months ago

Why are we still droning on about French intellectuals?
It’s over for the French.
Their intellectuals, whom they rely on for guidance, are fraudulent, conformist, overeducated apparatchiks.
They are physical cowards who ran away from threat at critical points rather than stand and fight.
They are morally corrupt because they are lazy and expect immigrants to do their dirty work while denying those immigrants a fair place in society in return.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
10 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

And they’re all so interminably miserable. I’m guessing there isn’t a French word for craic, which is as much a part of life as all their existential angst.

tom j
tom j
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Gosh, Houellebecq is probably the funniest writer in the world, and he is certainly no conformist intellectual. Try ‘Submission’.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago
Reply to  tom j

Agreed. Serotonine is also an absolute classic.

Last edited 10 months ago by Drahcir Nevarc
rob monks
rob monks
10 months ago
Reply to  tom j

He is funny and that is overlooked .The woke disapproval of him is as you said ‘lazy’. I would add facile..

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
7 months ago
Reply to  tom j

I agree. Nothing conformist about “Submission”, a highly original yet timely book.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago

Sodomy, bestiality and ennui. That’s about it. Can I have my doctorate now?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

My upcoming dissertation on:

rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash.”” (from Churchill’s quote, not the Punk song)

is coming along very well, and I expect my PhD any day….

Josh Cook
Josh Cook
10 months ago

Fabulous article – probably the best writer on UnHerd at the mo.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
10 months ago
Reply to  Josh Cook

Wow, you understood it, you must be well clever

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago

Give me an Englishman* any day. “Most people would rather die than think, and most do”.

(*Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970.)

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago

Wasn’t Russell, along with most of his set, of the view that those considered unthinking should not be allowed to breed? Or least in no greater number than those required for physical and servile tasks?

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Yes, precisely. Were they wrong?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago

Are you available to chair the ‘breeding’ committee? Mass compulsory sterilisation will be ‘interesting’.

alan Osband
alan Osband
10 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Noticed the hostage taker from the uk shot dead in America had a mere 6 children . Obviously he was a super efficient dad with time to worry about busting lady jihadists from prison .

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  alan Osband

Nothing to do with Islam though…

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
10 months ago

Thanks, Esther, this was a very interesting piece which made me want to read Houellebecq!

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago

I speak sub-fluent French and, apart from Edward St Aubyn, Houellebecq is more or less the only living novelist I read. Apart from these two, I deliberately read only dead white mostly males, in an endeavour to “épater les reveillards”.

Last edited 10 months ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Aldo Maccione
Aldo Maccione
10 months ago

Why this Unherd’s obsession for Houellebecq ?

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Aldo Maccione

Because he writes good click-bait

alan Osband
alan Osband
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Having clocked the photo of Esther Manov I read that as chick-bait.

Last edited 10 months ago by alan Osband
Josh Cook
Josh Cook
10 months ago
Reply to  Aldo Maccione

I image in because he’s the only writer alive today that people might still be reading in 100 years.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago

Reading Submission was like reading a description of a French stereotype:

  • intellectuality (the French caste system)
  • priapic and rough (its always a man)
  • beautiful Paris (its never the banlieues)
  • perfect but simple cuisine (no Indian take-aways)
  • La France profonde (Parisians are stangers to it but profess they belong)

Do the French really aspire to this still ?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

I remember some American Film Critic describing all French Movies:

‘Two couples each have adulterous affairs with each other spouse – then go to dinner and talk about it for 3 hours.’

Josh Cook
Josh Cook
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Cope

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

That wasn’t my experience of reading Soumission at all. To me, it was a fairly savage satire of Parisian hipsterism.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
10 months ago

I managed a paragraph but didn’t have the foggiest what it was about.

I thought I’d come to the comments but, ladies and gents, you seem little wiser than I.

rick stubbs
rick stubbs
10 months ago

I have a long time interest in Houellebecq which began with Submission. Read all his books and far too many reviews by French or English critics. This the single best review/take, of not just this novel, but all his work I have ever come across. I am not in the lit crit business but IMO the author of this piece certainly should be.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
10 months ago

De Sade, Reage and Welbeck have pretty much taken ownership of s*domy for the French. I honestly can’t think of any other language in which there is so much written about it. Thank God for Anais Nin otherwise I’d really worry about French literature.

alan Osband
alan Osband
10 months ago

‘Here in America ,at least, there’s plenty of slumming it , reheated -Carver poverty porn and box-checking census -opera ‘

You mean My name is Lucy Barton ?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
10 months ago

The only thing I find interesting about Houellebecq is that I used to work in a West End street named after him (Welbeck Street; same name). I’ve read a lot of this sort of article about him, but none has ever given me the feeling that I need to read anything he’s written. I suspect his books are like Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, or indeed any literary prize winner, in that quite a lot of people buy them, but famously, almost nobody ever actually reads them.

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Touche

SULPICIA LEPIDINA
SULPICIA LEPIDINA
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

Touché surely?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago

Touchy if referring to T Hopp.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
10 months ago

Smartypants1

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Interesting – I reread Nineteen Eighty-Four every few years and it just gets better and better.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Au contraire! (See what I did there?) – I’ve read a few of his novels and I liked them all very much. He’s one of the few contemporary writers of literary fiction who it seems to me actually gets read by people who aren’t members of book circles or themselves writers of contemporary fiction. A tad on the gloomy side, but I’m a miserable ba****d.

tom j
tom j
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Jon, try reading Submission, it’s astonishingly good, and not at all hard to read. He’s dark, but he’s also funny. Anyway, don’t comment on him any more till you’ve read him, or at least seriously tried.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Nothing like Mandolin thank God. Try Atomised.

D Ward
D Ward
10 months ago

Hmm. After a slow start I couldn’t put Mandolin down. Caught the night bus home rather than the train so I had longer to read then carried on reading till 6 am anyway when I had finished the book and got through a loo roll crying.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
10 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

They’re nothing like that. The sort of bourgeois triumphalist twerp who likes Captain Corelli’s Mandolin would loathe Houellebecq. You should read him.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
10 months ago

What a convoluted article. KISS.