Les Particules élémentaires Kindle ´ Les Particules

Elementaire deeltjes is het verhaal van de twee halfbroers Bruno en Michel kinderen van eenzelfde moeder die half verweesd los van elkaar opgroeien en elkaar pas later leren kennen De in zijn schooltijd gekwelde Bruno ontwikkelt zich tot een ziekelijk aan seks verslaafde genotzoeker De eenzame ziel Michel groeit uit tot een briljant moleculair bioloog wiens onderzoekingen uiteindelijk zullen leiden tot de vervanging van de mens door een nieuwe niet individualistische soort De levenswegen van de twee broers zijn exemplarisch voor het le bankroet van de liberale westerse samenleving waarvan Houellebecq op visionaire wijze het einde aankondigt


10 thoughts on “Les Particules élémentaires

  1. says:

    You can interpret this book in several different ways A lot of people view it as a depressing hate filled rant filled with a really startling amount of unpleasant sex I'm not saying that that's necessarily incorrect In fact my immediate association was with the fictitious books that Moreland invents in one of the Anthony Powell novels Seated One Day at my Organ by the author of One Hundred Disagreeable Sexual Experiences But I think there are interesting ways of reading Les Particules which show that it's not as pointless as it first appearsSo after considering it a while I'd say that this is basically a book about sexual frustration Bruno the main character has an extremely active libido but is unfortunately not at all attractive he's fat ugly and lacks charm He spends his days in a constant agony of unfulfilled desire I recently read Hamsun's Hunger the poor guy in Hamsun is broke and hungry and no matter what he tries to think about he always comes back to money and food within a few minutes Hamsun's very brave about showing how degrading this is for him Bruno's plight is similar He's not getting any sex and that's all HE can think about And in fact it's not unreasonable to argue that Houellebecq is being brave too in describing just how humiliating that is for him The author could put it in general terms or he could indirectly suggest it but a detailed description of how Bruno masturbates over his algebra notes while watching girls on the train drives it home far effectively Il prenait l'autorail de Crécy la Chapelle Chaque fois que c'était possible et c'était presque toujours possible il s'installait en face d'une jeune fille seule La plupart avaient les jambes croisées une chemisier transparent ou autre chose Il ne s'installait vraiment en face plûtot en diagonale mais souvent sur la même banquette à moins de deux mètres Il bandait déjà en apercevant les longs cheveux blonds ou bruns en choisissant une place en circulant entre les rangées la douleur s'avivait dans son slip Au moment de s'asseoir il avait déjà sortit un mouchoir de sa poche Il suffisait d'ouvrir un classeur de le poser sur ses cuisses en quelques coups c'était fait Parfois quand la fille décroissait les jambes au moment où il sortait sa bite il n'avait même pas besoin de se toucher il se libérait d'un jet en apercevant la petite culotte La mouchoir était une sécurité en général il éjaculait sur les pages du classeur sur les équations de second degré sur les schémas d'insectes sur la production de charbon de l'URSS La fille poursuivait la lecture de son magazine But why does Bruno feel this terrible and what does it say about our society? Houellebecq has some interesting observations about how free market economics have entered into people's personal lives having also read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine in the near past this resonated rather well In the economic sphere Klein argues persuasively that the logical long term result is a world where Dick Cheney and his immediate circle of friends own almost everything and a good 40% of the world owns nothing In the sexual sphere the corresponding long term result is a world where no one really wants to fuck anybody except Scarlett Johansson or Megan Fox depending on whether they prefer blondes or brunettes and will not even consider fucking anyone who isn't young and thin Bruno exemplifies this horrible state of being thwarted sexual desire has turned his life into a living hell and Houellebecq is psychologically credible in showing how it progressively destroys him making him hate everyone and everything One interesting angle is that the book contrasts the materialistic world view that has him in its jaws against the traditional Christian world view It's probably not an accident that when Bruno does in the end meet a woman who truly loves him she's called Christiane Here's another example of how the graphic descriptions of sex are not as gratuitous as they first appear Bruno has just spent a very happy week with Christiane but must leave Bruno avait déjà plié sa tente et rangé ses affaires dans la voiture il passa sa dernière nuit dans la caravane Au matin il essaya de pénétrer Christiane mais cette fois il echoua il se sentit ému et nerveux Joue sur moi dit elle Elle étala le sperme sur son visage et sur ses seins Viens me voir dit elle encore une fois au moment où il passait la porte Il promit de venir In a Brigade Mondaine novel this would just be pornographic Here it comes across as a rather moving scene I felt very sorry for poor Christiane it was already clear that things couldn't possibly work out wellThe part of the novel I found least engaging was the thread that followed Michel Bruno's half brother Instead of experiencing life as one long torment of desire Michel hardly feels desire at all He becomes a biophysicist and eventually finds a way to create an immortal race of asexual beings which duly replace humanity I wasn't very convinced by any of this partly because Houellebecq seems to be unaware that biologists have spent a lot of time wondering about why it is that sexual reproduction is a good idea It's an interesting story and deserves to be treated with respect I don't think however that we need to discuss whether Michel's idea makes scientific sense I don't believe Houellbecq is seriously saying that we should find a way to evolve away from sex any than Brecht in The Tutor is seriously suggesting autocastration as a solution He's just saying that the pain that sex and love cause people is such that you're willing to consider an extreme solution in order to escape from it Unfortunately Houellebecq has loaded up with scientific buzzwords but doesn't seem to have any deep understanding and I found the quantum mechanics much irritating than the pornography For example I suppose that all the references to the Einstein Podolsky Rosen gedankenexperiment are intended to suggest that Bruno and Michel are inextricably bound together quantum entangled in fact their mother is the source Bruno and Michel are the two electrons But if you insist on a quantum mechanical metaphor a particleanti particle pair seems both obvious and easier to understand invoking EPR is basically just too fucking clever Which is a reasonable criticism of the whole book in factI discovered yesterday evening that Les Particules is listed in 1001 Books To Read Before You Die Well I suppose I agree Though I'm also warning you that it could significantly advance the date of your demise


  2. says:

    It's a curious idea to reproduce when you don't even like life It's rare to come across a book filled with so pure of hate At first I thought maybe it's was just some good old fashioned misogyny with maybe a little bit of nationalism and Arab hating thrown in but then something curious happened the whole of society got thrown into the hate fest that is this book Hippies? Hate them a lot Italians? Yep really hate them we don't say why we just do Nature? Fuck it Sex? Love it but hate it French Intellectuals? Oh really fuck those guys especially Deleuze but make it clear we don't like any of those guys from the 60's 1968? Hahahaha fucking assholes Children? Masterbation fodder or else just fucking people Growing old? Really hate it People lying to themselves that they aren't old? Hate them so much too Hate hate hate hate hate It might not sound possible but this book might possibly hate everything the author narrator doesn't even seem to place himself in any kind of position where it seems like he would be saying 'oh look at all of these poor shits If only there were people like me in the world a race of me's And I'll call them super men Nope there is nothing Nietzschean here rather it's all sort of the most pessimistic Kant imaginable One were the ethics are based on total shit as an imperative But through all of this hate and the depressing feelings of the total waste of life we all are and the simple fact that no one is going to be happy it will elude us and the desire for happiness will only make us miserable this book ends up being an interesting and enjoyable read


  3. says:

    Wow What an incredible book The Epilogue makes a huge difference in how one might view it on the whole It certainly did for me I was getting so depressed by the end that I almost chucked it aside around the 90% mark because I felt a panic attack coming on But I took a deep breath and I switched up my reading soundtrack and I pushed on and am very glad that I did The Epilogue really clarifies so much that precedes it Leading up to that point it is basically 100% bleak and I mean truly truly bleak though extremely interesting and entertaining every step of the way There's a fair amount of gross sexual stuff along the way as well but it's always presented in a detached rather ungleeful way and as such it has a point beyond mere shock andor titillation that fully justifies its presence To say this book is just about sexual frustration is to hugely miss the point This is a BIG PICTURE book but carried out through a tightly crafted narrative mainly surrounding two brothers birthed from a massively disfunctional genetic pool with one shared parent a terminally miserable often nauseatingly sexually deviant literature professor named Bruno and a largely emotionless but harmless microbiologist in deep almost inhuman isolation named Michel The book covers so many subjects that I'm sort of dumbfounded and slow to begin relaying them all Existential cultural scientific philosophical historical etc Consciousness genetics sex death physics religion cruelty love parenthood childhood adulthood happiness suffering etc Despite the often searing and pitiless slings and arrows thrown at humanity I think it is also a book that is deeply sympathetic to the desperate flailing the absurd flaws and the open wounds of humanity self inflicted and otherwise Its final sentence is a straight up dedication to humankind despite its many detailed failures and sufferings and defects and despite the claim that a new and improved species must take its place I was holding a solid four star rating of this in my head until the final leg of the journey around Section Three and the Epilogue So if any readers who take my opinions as any sort of guide end up having trouble with it along the way I implore them to press on


  4. says:

    This book doesn't care if you read itIt doesn't care if you buy it or borrow it if you deface it if you understand it if you have the remotest interest in itIt doesn't try to be liked It's far far far too cool for school French author Michel Houellebecq not caring And when I say that I do NOT mean it's cool in a positive way I found half of it dry aloof and didactic like reading a doctorate level physics textbook It felt imperious and full of itself It felt over my head The other half of it was full of somewhat shocking sexual debauchery that would be at home in a de Sade story Lots of public masturbation orgies and licking various people in various places Lots and lots of lickingActually I wouldn't be surprised if someone told me Houellebecq was inspired by the Marquis de Sade whose writings similarly alternate between long philosophical rants and naughty Libertine caprices De Sade though I have to say has a far charming delivery The Elementary Particles follows two brothers Michel the asexual scientist and Bruno the pervert through their dreary childhoods and then their calamitous personal relationships The story does contain promising hints of something alive their mother was a free spirited hippie who spent time at a commune that her son later revisited but it never quite got there for me It was all trapped in a test tube handled by hands wearing latex gloves A glacial reticence the brothers' inability to love is infused in this textI'm not too sure what to make of his attitude toward women who he says are superior but who live unhappily until he kills them offAt the end of the day it's a far less interesting version of L'Étranger with a similar dose of existentialism bleakness and distain for human relationships This story rarely pulled me in mainly because of the detached writing style which often resorted to the all knowing narrator popping up in the midst of a somewhat interesting narrative to say what would happen in 15 years or what happened 15 years previously Then using the boring device of either scientific or news articles would fill in the story rather than letting the readers experience it Show Don't Tell is such a basic rule in the writing world but apparently Michel Houellebecq didn't get the memoThat all said I could be completely wrong about this book And that's okay because it really doesn't care what I think it's all meaningless anyway right?ADDENDUMIn the interest of fairness please also look at Manny's review He does a better job than I at explaining what this book is about Houellebecq using sexuality Western Society's sick obsession with the quick fix as an illustration for materialism is an interesting idea even if it is mind blowingly depressing


  5. says:

    Okay I decided I would take a go at actually justifying my rating for this book rather than just make half hearted apologies at my preference for a so absurdly misogynistic and let's be frank pornographic novel First of all I like Houellebecq's unrelenting pessimism It's far beyond nihlism so destructive and negative so emphatic in its rejection of bougeoise norms of religion culture capitalism This book as well as the other Houellebecq I read Platform captures the bleak purposeless of modern life better than almost anything I can think of As a recent college grad who for the first time in her life finds herself waking at 730 am each morning so she can go plug herself in to the grinding mechanics of capitalism someone whose weekends consist of the churn of drunk hungover drunk hungover who struggles to find meaning in music beauty sex religion whatever I can relate to this The emotionally unavailable scientist The absolutely pathetic lonely sex addicted failure The petty worthless little bureaucrat in Platform I'm not you know depressed or anything but I can share at least in some part their view of the world as bleak lonely and irredeemable except through very brief moments of relieved pain via drinking and sexSecondly the book is darkly funny Not amateurish darkly funny because I mean this book is dark The things in it that are funny are the things that have to do with the inevitability of death the pointlessness of life the drive for sex that is unsatisfied in pathetic heartbreakingly inadequate losers are you cracking up yet? If not you might not get it The humor is subtle and when I first read this book in the original French I missed a lot of the humor But the humor is there the question is whether or not the reader is capable of appreciating it One of those laugh if you don't want to cry thingsThirdly okay yes the book is misogynistic maybe kind of racist certainly anti religion but at least Houellebecq is fair His hatred with modern society is pretty blindly applied The men in this book aren't exactly great upstanding characters either you know? So there you go like I said don't go telling the feminist sisterhood or my mom that I enjoyed this book But if you're looking for some dark high brow pornography and you have a strong stomach this might be a good choice for you


  6. says:

    Extraordinary outstanding and absolutely not to be missed The Elementary Particles holds you captive like only the best of 'em can Think a long cold autumn afternoon sipping coffee and reading Never Let Me Go Think Dan Brown poolside All of these experiences that could conceivably last one blissful insatiable sitting the novels that are not considered novellas that is this is one of 'em The artistry is like a painting the reading is like some immersive exercise that blends sex with study of molecular biology in new and intelligent ways The two brothers are separated entities who belong to the same sphere of humanity It is elegant very very smart Mr Houellebecq sir I am your devoted FAN I drag my gory knees on the ground en route to the basilica of French Modern Literature a palace of gleaming rubies that reaches toward the bright summer sky This type of novel this quality of work inspires me to even mention Dan Brown I mean yeah Dan Brown I make reference to him with a smile a vibrant optimism afforded only by the likes of wizards like Houellebecq


  7. says:

    Daringly original and yes ludicrously filthy but for anyone that thinks this is just three hundred and eighty pages of Masturbating blow jobs and debauchery your missing the point as there are far serious things going on here than spanking the monkey and alike Michel Houellebecq has written a work of great intelligence and maturity that is nihilistic in nature and immensely sad but was always compulsive reading Concerning French half brothers Michel and Bruno where the only thing they have in common is the same mother and melancholia for libertine Bruno is a sexually frustrated middle age individual who although ashamed of his body can't keep his hands of himself weather that be in public or private while life for Michel has been a success to a point a molecular biologist who is a clever idealist but has about as much sex drive as a castrated monk with flashbacks from childhood to the teen years and then grown men we follow not only the two through a demoralising life filled with a strong sense of failure but also for relationships culture and the destruction of contemporary society And it's here that Houellebecq drives his message home with a deep and meaningful account of the passage of change and ultimate pressures of finding a place to exist in modern times Many will pass him off as a nihilist racist pervert and for the mistreatment of women who has written a lewd and funny work for cheap thrills with the sole aim to offend I am not having that one bit Very moving and importantly really gets you thinking


  8. says:

    Years ago I went out on a few dates with a French guy He was rich and good looking though of course way too short and he seemed pretty smart but I never could bring myself to kiss him He had this typically Gallic extreme snottiness that I found amusing even endearing but even as I enjoyed this I suspected that his disdain for everything non French might indicate something a bit too dark for me At a certain point I decided that he wasn't a regular charming misanthrope I discerned that he hated Muslims black people and homosexuals even than he hated everyone else and so I didn't go out with him againThat French guy was a big fan of Michel HoullebecqAt the time I wondered for a moment why I find generalized misanthropy acceptable even kind of charming but felt specifically targeted hatreds were completely repellant I mean of course I understand why I think that but how rational is it? Why is hating fewer people not okay while hating everyone is fine?Again of course I understand why that's the case but it is a little funny Anyway this train of thought doesn't have much to do with this book except that maybe it does relate to the French and the way that they think about people But I don't know much about them as a culture and therefore won't generalize hereI was so into the first half of The Elementary Particles that it made me feel terrible in that amazing hedonistic I hate myself for loving you way that top shelf Martin Amis brings on This book has a lot in common with St Aubyn's The Patrick Melrose Novels which I never got around to reviewing properly both in that it's about the extraordinarily fucked up children of wealthy Europeans and that it degenerates somewhat into overly expository and transparently philosophical fake monologues later on in the book In other words I was obsessively entranced by the first half and the second half was just okayMy favorite thing about The Elementary Particles was the way that it would constantly pull back from the story of its characters to tie their experiences to generalized historical and biological trends This is what fiction is and how it works and I love seeing it spelled out like that This book is about two half brothers with a terrible mom and tries to describe and comment on massive transformations in human life and experience For the most part I think it did do a pretty good job though I'm not sure I agree with its arguments and conclusionsAgain I really loved the first half of this book though I didn't think the second half was as good I'd be embarrassed to recommend it to most people based on its graphic sexual content and bleak view of human relations though if I were honest I'd admit I think he's got a lot rightI think based on this book that Houllebecq wrestles with a lot of the questions most significant to the time we're upon He does this wrestling in a way that might not be palatable to all and while I find this compelling I haven't yet decided if I'll go out with him again


  9. says:

    This book brought me to laughter And this is not a compliment but actually quite the oppositeEvery character here is monodimensional and unrealistic while the story itself is ridicolous Blame me if you like but after the tenth masturbation scene filled up with philosophical rubbish and Andre Gide quotes I've felt a big nausea coming up And this malaise stayed with me till the end of the novel There are many novelists who have their own obsession for sex and some of them are consistently good such as Philip Roth and Ian McEwan Michel Houellebecq in my humble opinion is notPS Review corrected and re edited in September 2014


  10. says:

    The longueur of French academic life The pain of being 40 and unfuckable Something about quantum physics It's all here in this eggheady gloom festival