Michel Houellebecq: The Era of Emptiness

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Abstract

Michel Houellebecq is perhaps the most successful, the most famous and controversial of all current novelists writing in French. He has become a global publishing phenomenon: His books have been translated worldwide, film adaptations of his novels have been produced, and the author is the subject of a million-euro publishing deals and successive media scandals in France. The novels depict surprising forms of imaginary resources, a radiating end of the world, a post-nuclear anxiety, and depressive characters. Houellebecq shocks us leaving us in a world where the feelings of love, tenderness and goodwill have disappeared. The purpose of Houellebecq’s novels is to alert about the real problems of the human society in the twenty-first century. Indeed, in the books we can easily recognize the essential features of contemporary society and the fact that the individual assumes a dehumanization process in which one has to cope with his solitude in a world of emptiness. This socio-cultural dimension is indeed the background of Houellebecq’s novels, novels in which the protagonists seem to be wedged in a mechanism from which it is difficult to escape: reification and dehumanization on the one hand, “robotization” of love on the other. This article focuses on the analysis of the texts revealing the poignant characteristics of “L’Ère du vide” (“The Era of Emptiness”) as described by Gilles Lipovetsky: Loneliness, the lack of love and its replacement by sexual relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158- 165
JournalJournalism and Mass Communication
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

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