Book Notes: Michel Houellebecq’s Anéantir

Anéantir will soon appear in an English translation, which is great because it’s a very good book. What I particularly like is that you can read it in 3 different ways:

1. As a straightforward story of a man who lived his whole life in a sterile, lonely jail of liberal beliefs and then suddenly discovered that it’s in the conservative values that you can find life, love, and happiness. But he discovered it when it was already too late.

2. As a metaphor for France or the Western civilization experiencing an agony before it dies forever. Paul symbolized France, and his greatest horror is to lose his capacity to speak. The descriptions of Paul’s agony are very heavy but whoever heard of cute, pleasant agony?

3. As part of Houellebecq’s journey as an author that has reached a new and different stage. His characters always search for meaning, and the protagonist of Anéantir actually finds it where he never expected to do so.

The website for the paper version of the book says it’s 700 pages. I have to tell you, though, it didn’t feel like anything that long. It reads very easily in spite of the subject matter getting extremely heavy in the last third. But it’s real literature. And moreover, it’s real French literature, with a lot of sex, cheese, and musings about the meaning of the French revolution.

2 thoughts on “Book Notes: Michel Houellebecq’s Anéantir

  1. So Houllebecq wrote a less politically tone deaf variant of Le Camp des Saints?

    That was the controversial book of the early 1970s when it came to the loss of France and the loss of French identity.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.