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LeftoversEating, Drinking and Re-thinking with Case Studies from Post-war French Fiction$
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Ruth Cruickshank

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620672

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620672.001.0001

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Weighing up the Potential of Literary Consumption

Weighing up the Potential of Literary Consumption

Feeding on Scraps in Michel Houellebecq’s La Carte et le territoire/The Map and the Territory

Chapter:
(p.163) Chapter Five Weighing up the Potential of Literary Consumption
Source:
Leftovers
Author(s):

Ruth Cruickshank

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620672.003.0006

Houellebecq’s La Carte et le territoire/The Map and the Territory (2010) provocatively problematizes the potential of art, literature and the French economy in the global marketplace. Meals and drinks in bars, cafés, restaurants, luxury hotels and the home of a soon-to-be-murdered fictional Houellebecq are the premise for discussions of late capitalism, whilst unwittingly – along with the dislocated gastro-anomie embodied by supermarket shopping and excessive drinking – underscoring how lack imbues twenty-first-century relationships. Literary intertexts related to food and drink expose the problematics of the consumption of the writer in the twenty-first-century marketplace, yet artfully distance the writer from some very problematic discourses. Traces and remainders in leftover bits and pieces of charcuterie and questionable fusion food which pepper the novel magnify Houellebecq’s attempts to represent the world with scraps of more or less throwaway culture. These – deliberately or not – both evoke catastrophic excesses of late capitalism and the interpretative and transformative potential of representations of eating and drinking (although not ecocritical concerns about the planet). Although evoking global systems of exploitative violence fuelling the twenty-first century’s economics of excess, analyses of food and drink in the novel reveals a more positive conclusion: that writing can still create from remainders, whatever the market conditions.

Keywords:   La Carte et le territoire, The Map and the Territory, Michel Houellebecq, Gastro-anomie, Traces, Remainders, Ecocriticism, Intertextuality, Alcohol abuse, Potlatch

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