Michel Houellebecq

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Michel Houellebecq
(born Michel Thomas)

Born February 26, 1958(1958-02-26)
Occupation Novelist, filmmaker and poet
Official website

Michel Houellebecq (pronounced [miʃɛl wɛlˈbɛk]) (born Michel Thomas), born 26 February 1958 (birth certificate) or 1956[2], on the French island of Réunion is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. He left France and lived in Ireland for some years. He currently lives in Spain.


[edit] Early life

The son of Lucie Ceccaldi, an Algerian-born French doctor, and her husband,[3] René Thomas, a ski instructor and mountain guide, Houellebecq was born on the French island of Réunion. He also lived in Algeria from the age of five months until 1961, with his maternal grandmother. At the age of six, he was sent to France to live with his paternal grandmother, a communist. Her maiden name was Houellebecq, which became his pen name. Later, he went to Lycée Henri Moissan, a high school at Meaux in the north-east of Paris, as a boarder. He then went to Lycée Chaptal in Paris to follow preparation courses in order to join French Grandes écoles (elite schools). He began attending the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon in 1975. He started a literary review called Karamazov and wrote poetry.

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[edit] Works

Houellebecq graduated as an agronomical engineer in 1978. He later worked as a computer administrator in Paris, including at the French National Assembly, before he became the so-called "pop star of the single generation". Gaining fame with the novel Extension du domaine de la lutte in 1994 (translated into English by Paul Hammond as Whatever), he won the 1998 Prix Novembre with his novel Les Particules Élémentaires (translated by Frank Wynne) and published as Atomised (Heinemann, UK) or, The Elementary Particles (Knopf, US). The novel became an instant "nihilistic classic". The New York Times, however, described it as "a deeply repugnant read." The novel won Houellebecq—along with his translator, Frank Wynne—the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2002.

The author's following novel, Plateforme (2001), earned him a wider reputation. It is a romance, told mostly in the first-person by an aging male arts administrator, with many sex scenes and an approbation of prostitution and sex tourism. The novel's depiction of life and its explicit criticism of Islam and the Muslim faith, together with an interview its author gave to the magazine Lire, led to accusations against Houellebecq by several organisations, including France's Human Rights League, the Mecca-based World Islamic League and the mosques of Paris and Lyon. Charges were brought to trial, in circumstances reminiscent of the controversy over Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses at the end of the 1980s; but a panel of three judges, delivering their verdict to a packed Paris courtroom, acquitted the author of having provoked racial hatred, ascribing Houellebecq's opinions to the legitimate right of criticizing religions.

His most recent novel is The Possibility of an Island ( La Possibilité d'une île), is a novel that alternates between three characters' narratives, Daniel 1 (a current day comedian) and Daniel 24 and 25, neo-human clones of the Daniel 1.

In 2001, Houellebecq published Lanzarote, which delelops a number of the subjects the authour explored in The Possibility of an Island: fringe religions and cult leaders among them.

He has also released a music CD Présence humaine, on Bertrand Burgalat's Tricatel label in 2000, on which he sings over a rock band backing.

A recurrent theme in Houellebecq's novels is the intrusion of free-market economics into human relationships and sexuality. Whatever, (Original title, Extension du domaine de la lutte, which literally translates as "extension of the domain of the struggle") alludes to economic competition extending into the search for relationships. As the book says, a free market has winners and losers, and the same applies to relationships in a society that does not enforce monogamy. Westerners of both sexes already seek exotic locations and climates by visiting developing countries in organized trips. In Platform, the logical conclusion is that they would respond positively to sex tourism organized and sold in a corporate and professional fashion.

[edit] Adaptations

Extension du domaine de la lutte has been filmed by Philippe Harel and adapted as a play in Danish by Jens Albinus for the Royal Danish Theatre.

The English translation of his novel Platform was adapted as a play by the theatre company Carnal Acts for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London in December 2004. A Spanish adaptation of the novel by Calixto Bieito, performed by Companyia Teatre Romea, premiered at the 2006 Edinburgh International Festival.

Along with Loo Hui Phang, Houellebecq wrote the manuscript for the film Monde extérieur (2002) by David Rault and David Warren.

Les Particules Élémentaires has been made into a German film, Elementarteilchen, directed by Oskar Roehler, starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Franka Potente. The film premiered at the 2006 Berlinale.

The film La Possibilité d'une île directed by Houellebecq himself and based on the novel premiered in France on September 10, 2008.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] Novels

  1. Extension du domaine de la lutte (1994; Trans. as Whatever by Paul Hammond, 1998)
  2. Les Particules élémentaires (1998; Trans. as Atomised by Frank Wynne, 2000; published in the US as The Elementary Particles)
  3. Lanzarote (2000, Trans. by Frank Wynne, 200?)
  4. Plateforme (2001; Trans. as Platform by Frank Wynne, 2002)
  5. La Possibilité d'une île (2005; Trans. as The Possibility of an Island by Gavin Bowd, 2006), dedicated to Antonio Muñoz Ballesta and his wife Nico.

[edit] Other books

  • Rester vivant, méthode, La Différence (1991)
  • H. P. Lovecraft: Contre le monde, contre la vie (1991; Trans. as H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life by Dorna Khazeni, Intro by Stephen King, 2005), an analysis of the life and work of H. P. Lovecraft.
  • La Poursuite du bonheur, poèmes, La Différence (1992)
  • Le Sens du combat, poèmes, Flammarion (1996)[4]
  • Interventions, recueil d'essais, Flammarion (1998)
  • Renaissance, poèmes, Flammarion (1999)

[edit] Articles

  • "Description d'une lassitude" (2002) in Houelle 10, Paris.
  • "Je crois peu en la liberté - Entretien" (1998) in Revue Perpendiculaire 11, Paris: Flammarion, p. 4-23.
  • "L'homme de gauche est mal parti" (2003) in Le Figaro 6/1/03, p. 1, 13.
  • "La question pédophile: Réponse" (1997) in L'Infini 59, Paris: Gallimard, pp. 96-98.
  • "La privatisation du monde" (2000) in L'Atelier du roman 23, Paris, pp. 129-34.
  • "Le haut langage" (1995) in La Quinzaine littéraire, 670; Paris; pp. 21-22.
  • "Michel Houellebecq répond à Perpendiculaire" (1998) in Le Monde 18/9/98
  • "Neil Young" (2000) in Michka Assayas (ed.) Dictionnaire du rock, Paris: Robert Laffont.
  • "Préface" in Toni Ungerer (2001) Erotoscope, Paris: Éditions Taschen.
  • "Préface: L'Humanité, second stade" (1998) in Solanas, Valerie: Scum Manifesto, Paris: Éditions Mille et une nuits, pp. 63-69.
  • "Préface: Préliminaires au positivisme" (2003) in Bourdeau, Braunstein & Petit (eds.): Auguste Comte aujourd'hui, Paris: Éditions Kimé, pp. 7-12.
  • "Préface: Renoncer à l'intelligence" (1991) in Gourmont, Remy de: L'Odeur des jacinthes, Paris: Orphée/La Différence, pp. 7-20.
  • "Un monde sans direction" (1996) in La Quinzaine littéraire, 700; Paris; pp. 8-9.
  • "Wilde Flucht" (2000) in Tageszeitung Berlin, 30/10/00.

[edit] Films

  • Cristal de souffrance (1978)
  • Déséquilibre (1982)
  • La Rivière (2001) Canal +
  • La Possibilité d'une île (TBD)

[edit] CDs

  • Le Sens du combat (1996) Paris: Les Poétiques de France Culture.
  • Présence humaine (2000) Paris: Tricatel.

[edit] Published in collaboration

  • Barry, Judith; Convert, Pascal & Pfnür, Rainer (eds.) (1993) "Genius Loci", Paris: La Différence.
  • Breillat, Catherine (ed.) (1999) "Le livre du plaisir", Paris: Éditions 1.
  • Div. (1995) "Objet Perdu: fictions – Idées – Images", Paris: Lachenal et Ritter & Parc Éditions.
  • Hegemann, Claus (ed.) (2000) "Kapitalismus und Depression II: Glück ohne Ende", Berlin: Alexander Verlag.
  • Noguez, Dominique (ed.) (2002) "Balade en Seine-et-Marne: Sur les pas des écrivains", Paris: Éditions Alexandrines.
  • Ruff, Thomas & Houellebecq, Michel (2002) "Nudes", München: Walther König.
  • Wiame, Sarah & Houellebecq, Michel (1993) "La Peau", Paris: Sarah Wiame.
  • Wiame, Sarah & Houellebecq, Michel (1995) "La Ville", Paris: Sarah Wiame.

[edit] Works on Michel Houellebecq

  • Murielle Lucie Clément: Michel Houellebecq revisité (2007)
  • Murielle Lucie Clément and Sabine van Wesemael (eds.): Michel Houellebecq sous la loupe (2007)
  • Gavin Bowd (ed.): Le Monde de Houellebecq (2006)
  • Fernando Arrabal: Houellebecq (2005)
  • Éric Naulleau: Au secours, Houellebecq revient ! (2005)
  • Jean-François Patricola: Michel Houellebecq ou la provocation permanente (2005)
  • Denis Demonpion: Houellebecq non autorisé, enquête sur un phénomène (2005)
  • Sabine van Wesemael: Michel Houellebecq, le plaisir du texte (2005)
  • Olivier Bardolle: La Littérature à vif (Le cas Houellebecq) (2004)
  • Sabine van Wesemael (ed.): Michel Houellebecq (2004)
  • Dominique Noguez: Houellebecq, en fait (2003)
  • Murielle Lucie Clément: Houellebecq, Sperme et sang (2003)
  • Thomas Steinfeld: Das Phänomen Houellebecq (2001)

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Michel Houellebecq
  2. ^ Denis Demonpion: Houellebecq non autorisé, enquête sur un phénomène (2005)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ A selection of poems from 'La Poursuite du bonheur' and 'Le Sens du combat' has been translated into English by Robin Mackay in Collapse: Journal of Philosophical Research and Development vol. iv, Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9553087-3-4, pp.173-183.

[edit] External links

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