Michel Houellebecq - Submission (epub). Dokument: epub ( KB) A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michel Houellebecq is a French novelist, poet and. A controversial, intelligent, and mordantly funny new novel from France's most famous literary figureParis, François is bored. He's a middle-aged lecturer . Submission: A Novel by Michel Houellebecq. Read online, or download in secure EPUB format.

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In he retired, having completed - once leaves of absence were taken into account - his mandatory thirty years of employment. In that time he had managed to write books that made me consider him a friend more than a hundred years later.

Much, maybe too much, has been written about literature. I know better than anyone; I'm an expert in the field. Yet the special thing about literature, the major art form of a Western civilisation now ending before our very eyes, is not hard to define. Like literature, music can overwhelm you with sudden emotion, can move you to absolute sorrow or ecstasy; like literature, painting has the power to astonish, and to make you see the world through fresh eyes.

But only literature can put you in touch with another human spirit, as a whole, with all its weaknesses and grandeurs, its limitations, its pettinesses, its obsessions, its beliefs; with whatever it finds moving, interesting, exciting or repugnant. Only literature can give you access to a spirit from beyond the grave - a more direct, more complete, deeper access than you'd have in conversation with a friend.


Even in our deepest, most lasting friendships, we never speak as openly as when we face a blank page and address a reader we do not know. The beauty of an author's style, the music of his sentences have their importance in literature, of course; the depth of an author's reflections, the originality of his thought certainly can't be overlooked; but an author is above all a human being, present in his books, and whether he writes very well or very badly hardly matters - as long as he gets the books written and is, indeed, present in them.

It's strange that something so simple, so seemingly universal, should actually be so rare, and that this rarity, so easy to observe, should receive so little attention from philosophers in any discipline: In the same way, to love a book is, above all, to love its author: During the seven years it took me to write my dissertation, I lived with Huysmans, in his more or less permanent presence.

Born in the rue Suger, having lived in the rue de Sevres and the rue Monsieur, Huysmans died in the rue Saint-Placide and was buried in Montparnasse. He spent almost his entire life within the boundaries of the Sixth Arrondissement of Paris, just as he spent his professional life, thirty years and more of it, in the Ministry of the Interior and Ecclesiastical Affairs.

I, too, lived in the Sixth Arrondissement, in a damp, cold, utterly cheerless room - the windows overlooked a tiny courtyard, practically a well. When I got up in the morning, I had to turn on the light. I was poor, and if I'd been given one of those polls that are always trying to 'take the pulse of the unders', I would certainly have ticked the box marked 'struggling', And yet the morning after I defended my dissertation or maybe that same night , my first reaction was that I had lost something priceless, something I'd never get back: For several years, the last vestiges of a dying welfare state scholarships, student discounts, health care, mediocre but cheap meals in the student cafeteria had allowed me to spend my waking hours the way I chose: As Andre Breton pointed out, Huysmans' sense of humour is uniquely generous.

He lets the reader stay one step ahead of him, inviting us to laugh at him, and his overly plaintive, awful or ludicrous descriptions, even before he laughs at himself. No one appreciated that generosity more than I did, as I received my rations of celeriac remoulade and salt cod, each in its little compartment of the metal hospital tray issued by the Bullier student cafeteria whose unfortunate patrons clearly had nowhere else to go, and had obviously been kicked out of all the acceptable student cafeterias, but who still had their student IDs - you couldn't take away their student IDs , and I thought of Huysmans' epithets - the woebegone cheese, the grievous sole - and imagined what he might make of those metal cells, which he'd never known, and I felt a little less unhappy, a little less alone, in the Bullier student cafeteria.

But that was all over now. My entire youth was over. Soon very soon , I would have to see about entering the workforce.

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The prospect left me cold. The academic study of literature leads basically nowhere, as we all know, unless you happen to be an especially gifted student, in which case it prepares you for a career teaching the academic study of literature - it is, in other words, a rather farcical system that exists solely to replicate itself and yet manages to fail more than 95 per cent of the time.

Still, it's harmless, and can even have a certain marginal value. A young woman applying for a sales job at Celine or Hermes should naturally attend to her appearance above all; but a degree in literature can constitute a secondary asset, since it guarantees the employer, in the absence of any useful skills, a certain intellectual agility that could lead to professional development - besides which, literature has always carried positive connotations in the world of luxury goods.

For my part, I knew I was one of those 'gifted' few. I'd written a good dissertation and I expected an honourable mention. All the same, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a special commendation, and even more surprised when I saw the committee's report, which was excellent, practically dithyrambic. Suddenly a tenured position as a senior lecturer was within my reach, if I wanted it.

Which meant that my boring, predictable life continued to resemble Huysmans' a century and a half before. I had begun my adult life at a university and would probably end it the same way, maybe even at the same one though in fact this wasn't quite the case: I'd never felt the slightest vocation for teaching - and my fifteen years as a teacher had only confirmed that initial lack of calling.

What little private tutoring I'd done, to raise my standard of living, soon convinced me that the transmission of knowledge was generally impossible, the variance of intelligence extreme, and that nothing could undo or even mitigate this basic inequality. Worse, maybe, I didn't like young people and never had, even when I might have been numbered among them. Being young implied, it seemed to me, a certain enthusiasm for life, or else a certain defiance, accompanied in either case by a vague sense of superiority towards the generation that one had been called on to replace.

I'd never had those sorts of feelings. I did have some friends when I was young - or, more precisely, there were other students with whom I could contemplate having coffee or a beer between classes and not feel disgust.

Mostly I had mistresses - or rather, as people said then and maybe still do , I had girlfriends, roughly one a year. These relationships followed a fairly regular pattern. They would start at the beginning of the academic year, with a seminar, an exchange of class notes, or what have you, one of the many social occasions, so common in student life, that disappear when we enter the workforce, plunging most of us into a stupefying and radical solitude.

The relationship would take its course as the year went by. Nights were spent at one person's place or the other's in fact, I'd usually stay at theirs, since the grim, not to say insalubrious, atmosphere at mine hardly lent itself to romantic interludes ; sexual acts took place to what I like to think was our mutual satisfaction. When we came back from the summer holiday and the academic year began again, the relationship would end, almost always at the girl's initiative.

Things had changed over the summer. This was the reason they'd give, usually without further elaboration. A few, clearly less eager to spare me, would explain that they had met someone. Yeah, and so? Wasn't I someone, too? In hindsight, these factual accounts strike me as insufficient. They had indeed met someone, I fully concede that; but what made them lend so much weight to this encounter - enough to end our relationship and involve them in a new one - was merely the application of a powerful but unspoken model of amorous behaviour, a model all the more powerful because it remained unspoken.

The way things were supposed to work and I have no reason to think much has changed , young people, after a brief period of sexual vagabondage in their very early teens, were expected to settle down in exclusive, strictly monogamous relationships involving activities outings, weekends, holidays that were not only sexual, but social.

At the same time, there was nothing final about these relationships. Instead, they were thought of as apprenticeships - in a sense, as internships a practice that was generally seen in the professional world as a step towards one's first job.

Relationships of variable duration a year being, according to my own observations, an acceptable amount of time and of variable number an average of ten to twenty might be considered a reasonable estimate were supposed to succeed one another until they ended, like an apotheosis, with the last relationship, this one conjugal and final, which would lead, via the begetting of children, to the formation of a family.

The complete idiocy of this model became plain to me only much later - rather recently, in fact - when I happened to see Aurelie and then, a few weeks later, Sandra.

But if it had been Chloe or Violaine, I'm convinced I would have reached the same conclusion. The moment I walked into the Basque restaurant where Aurelie was meeting me for dinner, I knew I was in for a grim evening. Despite the two bottles of white Irouleguy that I drank almost entirely by myself, I found it harder and harder, and after a while, almost impossible, to keep up a reasonable level of friendly conversation.

For reasons I didn't entirely understand, it suddenly seemed tactless, almost unthinkable, to talk about the old days. As for the present, it was clear that Aurelie had never managed to form a long-term relationship, that casual sex filled her with growing disgust, that her personal life was headed for complete and utter disaster. There were various signs that she'd tried to settle down, at least once, and had never recovered from her failure. The Vegetarian.

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How Not to Be Wrong. Jordan Ellenberg. Golden Hill. Francis Spufford. White Tears. Hari Kunzru. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Simone de Beauvoir. Sunil Yapa. The Bookshop of Yesterdays.Michel Houellebecq is a French novelist, poet, and literary critic. The Ethics of Ambiguity. No, cancel Yes, report it Thanks! Perhaps the highest achievement of [Submission] is the way it manages to be a satire with a core of deep humanism running through it.

Zaloguj Anuluj. Yet the special thing about literature, the major art form of a Western civilisation now ending before our very eyes, is not hard to define. But that was all over now. The only time Houellebecq seems not to be joking is when Francois speaks about literature.

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