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Michel HouellebecqHumanity and its Aftermath$
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Douglas Morrey

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318610

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318610.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 12 July 2020

Sex and Politics

Sex and Politics

Chapter:
(p.13) Chapter One Sex and Politics
Source:
Michel Houellebecq
Author(s):

Douglas Morrey

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781846318610.003.0002

This chapter covers the omnipresent and much-discussed subject of sex in Houellebecq's writing through an analysis of his two first novels, Extension du domaine de la lutte (1994) and Les Particules élémentaires (1998). It argues that while, on the one hand, Houellebecq's work is full of explicit sex, on the other hand, he repeatedly creates sensitive and sympathetic portrayals of single people (especially men) excluded from sexual activity. This apparently contradictory mix is shown to be a result of Houellebecq's intriguing and unstable literary style which is characterised by mixed register and wandering focalisation. Finally it is suggested that the depiction of sex in Houellebecq's novels cannot be separated from a critical portrayal of contemporary capitalism that develops a damning critique of the culture of individualism.

Keywords:   Extension du domaine de la lutte/Whatever, Les Particules élémentaires/Atomised, Sex, Pornography, Masculinity, Literary style, Depression, Capitalism, Individualism

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