Michel Houellebecq’s La carte et le territoire
This chapter examines Michel Houellebecq’s La carte et le territoire [The Map and the Territory] (2010). In this Prix Goncourt-garnering novel, we see the world through the eyes of artist Jed Martin, who—like his cartography-inspired work—gazes upon the world with an ‘absolute clarity’ of vision. For Houellebecq’s protagonist, the map is ‘more interesting’ than the territory, but cartography is not the only visual paradigm lending its authority to his constructed gaze. I take Jed Martin’s mysterious and overlooked admission that he is above all a ‘television viewer’ as a starting point for an interrogation of the high-definition visual and rhetorical dynamics of Houellebecq’s prose. Ultimately, in this novel, in which Michelin the mapmaker becomes Michelin TV, and in which descriptions of landscapes read like commercials for automobiles, I propose that the true ‘television viewer’ is in fact Houellebecq’s ideal reader. This chapter mobilizes Bruno Latour on cartographic megalomania, Paul Virilio on visual media, and Antoine Compagnon on the Antimodern, delivering a new perspective on Houellebecq’s literary aesthetic.
Liverpool Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.