Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism by Ben Jeffery

By Ben Jeffery

Michel Houellebecq, writer of 5 novels together with Atomised and Platform, has develop into in all probability the world's most renowned literary pessimist. His paintings announces that lifestyles is painful and disappointing, demise is terrifying, and the human is a bad kind of comic story. He has been wildly profitable – translated into over 25 assorted languages and hailed because the voice of a iteration.

Beginning with Houellebecq's novels, this ebook explores the idea that of 'Depressive Realism' in literature and philosophy – the proposition that the proof of lifestyles are bleak and unkind. Ranging over paintings via David Foster Wallace, Susan Sontag, Fredric Jameson and Margaret Atwood, Anti-Matter surveys the case for pessimism, asks how a mass tradition rooted in sentimentality and trivialisation manages to provide loads cynicism and apathy, and hunts for the gap that continues to be for severe, life-affirming paintings.

Show description

Read or Download Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism PDF

Best literary criticism books

The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

The word "the that means of life" for plenty of turns out a old fashioned suggestion healthy for satirical mauling via Monty Python or Douglas Adams. yet during this lively Very brief creation, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a significant if frequently a laugh examine the query and gives his personal incredible answer.

Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have replied to the last word query of that means. He indicates, in spite of the fact that, that it's only nowa days that the query has turn into not easy. yet rather than tackling it head-on, many folks deal with the sentiments of meaninglessness in our lives through filling them with every thing from soccer to intercourse, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. nonetheless, Eagleton notes, many proficient humans think that lifestyles is an evolutionary coincidence that has no intrinsic which means. If our lives have which means, it's anything with which we be capable of make investments them, no longer whatever with which they arrive prepared made. Eagleton probes this view of which means as one of those deepest firm, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues as an alternative that the that means of lifestyles isn't really an answer to an issue, yet an issue of dwelling in a definite means. it isn't metaphysical yet moral. it isn't whatever cut loose lifestyles, yet what makes it worthy living--that is, a definite caliber, intensity, abundance and depth of lifestyles.

Here then is a superb dialogue of the matter of which means through a number one philosopher, who writes with a mild and sometimes irreverent contact, yet with a really critical result in mind.


"This is a short, formidable, and enjoyable ebook. As a survivor of the idea wars, Terry Eagleton has emerged as a critic and philosopher who can help us theologues think of not just life's which means however the subsequent steps we must always take as even postmodernism fades into cultural heritage. If there's a cultural existence for us all within the aftermath of the clash among essentialism and relativism, Eagleton's provocative essay will aspect the way in which either to creating and getting to know its which means. "--Gary R. corridor, Anglican Theological Review

"Eagleton's witty eclecticism is ideal for this kind of lofty topic, yet wouldn't it be irrelevant to invite for extra? --Leoppold Froelich, Playboy

"The that means of lifestyles will be 'lie' relative to how even more a student like Mr. Eagleton may need acknowledged, however it continues to be a piece that calls for shut consciousness from readers who're already good grounded in literature and philosophy. "--Mark Grannis, The Washington Times

"The information that Terry Eagleton has tackled the which means of existence in a publication of an insignificant 185 pages shouldn't elevate any eyebrows. If someone can pull it off, it's most likely him. Eagleton, unsurprisingly, has written a chic, literate, cogent attention of a maddeningly slippery subject, one whose conclusions run opposite to traditional knowledge, specially during this state. "--Laura Miller, Salon. com

"Eagleton's is in contrast to such a lot works on life's which means, during which writers usually invoke theology. Eagleton's inspiration of affection could seem to steer again to theism, yet he indicates us we will have significant lives no matter what our theology, and he invitations us all to settle on. He merits a spot in such a lot collections. "--Leslie Armour, Library Journal

"Regardless of even if you compromise with him, you'll end up challenged through this little publication. "--Houston Chronicle"

Emerson, Romanticism, and Intuitive Reason: The Transatlantic "Light of All Our Day"


The remedy of the Wordsworth-Coleridge-Emerson nexus all through is so beneficiant, methodical, and insightful that it's difficult to visualize it ever being passed. ”—Richard Gravil, writer of Romantic Dialogues: Anglo-American Continuities, 1776–1862
About the Author

Patrick J. Keane is Professor Emeritus of English at LeMoyne university in Syracuse, big apple. he's the writer of various books, together with Coleridge’s Submerged Politics: the traditional Mariner and Robinson Crusoe(University of Missouri Press).

Lolita, the Story of a Cover Girl: Vladimir Nabokov's Novel in Art and Design

What may still Lolita seem like? The query has dogged book-cover designers considering 1955, whilst Lolita was once first released in a undeniable eco-friendly wrapper. The heroine of Vladimir Nabokov's vintage novel has usually been proven as a teenage seductress in heart-shaped glasses—a misleading snapshot that misreads the booklet yet has seeped deep into our cultural lifestyles, from model to movie.

Valéry : Tenter de vivre

Paul Valéry est bien autre selected que ce que los angeles postérité a fait de lui.

Derrière l’académicien aux éternelles moustaches se cache un penseur qui, toute sa vie, de silences en éclats, s’est débattu avec son désir de littérature. Derrière le disciple de Mallarmé, le poète glorieux et le contempteur du roman, voici un prosateur à l. a. langue superbe, énergique et multiforme. Derrière l’écrivain mondain, c’est un homme désargenté, contraint, pour « faire bouillir los angeles marmite », de servir un vieillard des décennies durant ou de monnayer ses propres manuscrits. Derrière le pur esprit, on découvre l’ami exigeant de Gide et de Louÿs, mais aussi un amant fragile et brûlant dans sa liaison tourmentée avec Catherine Pozzi ou ses passions pour Renée Vautier et Jeanne Loviton.

Les funérailles nationales du 25 juillet 1945 furent celles d’un homme au destin tragique, pour qui « tenter de vivre » ne fut pas que los angeles moitié d’un vers.

Impénitent lecteur de Valéry, nourri d’archives et de correspondances inédites, Benoît Peeters nous livre le portrait empathique d’une des plus fascinantes figures d’écrivain qui ait jamais existé, et renouvelle avec brio l. a. lecture de son œuvre.

Extra info for Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism

Sample text

Typically (in the course of twelve episodes, or one hundred and twenty minutes running-time, or three-hundred pages, or whatever) narrative art gives us images of lives more vividly felt and wholly eventful than our own. There’s nothing sinister about this. Dramatic compression is a practical necessity – audiences won’t usually allow themselves to be bored. It’s just that the more of this colourful stuff you take in, the harder it is to avoid the thought of how relatively mundane and colourless your own existence is compared to 54 all these interesting people onscreen and on-page.

What is it that makes a particular book good? What attracts someone to one piece of art but not another? 48 But just that Houellebecq’s books have blind-spots and inconsistencies isn’t proof that what they say is wrong, only an invitation to consider how it’s not completely right. e. its identity as an ‘unreal’, imagined thing – artifice. Every kind of art is unreal after a fashion, but the point is particularly obvious with respect to literature. ). So with any sort of literary realism there’s a certain degree of ambiguity about what’s being asserted.

The easy example is that, and one that I go through over and over with students in writing classes, is that these students are far more afraid of coming off as sentimental than they are of coming off twisted, obscene, gross, any of the things that used to be the really horrible things that you didn’t want to betray about yourself. The great danger of appearing sentimental is that sentimentality is mainly now used in what appear to be very cynical marketing or mass-entertainment devices that are meant to sort of manhandle the emotions of large numbers of people who aren’t paying very close attention.

Download PDF sample

Rated 4.37 of 5 – based on 27 votes