What is it about?

This article is about the fundamental link between sex and love in the fiction of the French writer Michel Houellebecq. Love, not sex, is his superior value. In the novel Sérotonine (2019), love is even endowed with a divine dimension. In Houellebecq's novels, it is however constantly destroyed by the basically inhuman modernity, or postmodernity, in which it is inscribed.

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Why is it important?

Houellebecq is one of the most famous and widely read European novelists today. Commonly, he is considered a pessimistic and cynical analyst of postmodern society, represented by contemporary France. But under this surface, he is, with Antoine Compagnon's word, an anti-modern writer refusing to abandon fundamental traditional values, of which love is the most important. This fact makes Houellebecq even more interesting and more essential.


In my view, Houellebecq is one of those writers who brilliantly demonstrate the power of literature -- with all its complexity. His novels are about (central aspects of) our own life, and we are apparently happy to read about a reality we can recognize and identify with, even if it is negative. But Houellebecq's novels also have a message that is hard for us to accept, because it requires a change of perspective and of life style that we are neither willing nor able to.

Per Buvik

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This page is a summary of: La divine union du sexe et de l’amour − et la modernité destructrice, Revue Romane Langue et littérature International Journal of Romance Languages and Literatures, November 2021, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/rro.20031.buv.
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