Our good friends at the NYT belatedly offer up a rather lukewarm review of Michel Houellebecq’s “Submission.” Naturally, the book doesn’t go over too well with the newspaper’s resident
Cultural Marxists arbiters of taste:
Toward the end of [this] ugly new novel (now available in an English translation), Mr. Houellebecq has his narrator, François, make a barbed observation of another French writer, the 19th-century Decadent novelist J. K. Huysmans. It was “a mistake to give too much importance” to his “glib talk about ‘debauches’ and ‘dissipation,’ ” François thinks — that was just “part of the need to scandalize, to shock the bourgeoisie” and, in the end, “a career move.”
The savaging continues:
The reception of these books has often been as perverse as their contents. Mr. Houellebecq has won not only international visibility, but also the Goncourt Prize, and a startling amount of critical acclaim — for being a “grand, scabrous renunciator,” for being arguably “the most potentially weighty French novelist to emerge since Tournier,” and for hunting “big game while others settle for shooting rabbits,” as though he were another Louis-Ferdinand Céline, endowed not only with Céline’s bigotry and pessimism but also with his talent.
Incapable of grappling with the themes the book explores, refusing to assess the validity of the author’s assertions or to engage with any of the novel’s ideas, and lacking any real substantive criticism, the midwit resorts to name calling:
Mr. Houellebecq’s writing tends to be highly derivative of earlier writers, including Céline and Camus.
And to flippant dismissals of the native French people’s completely valid concerns about their looming demographic replacement:
[Houellebecq’s] novel plays on French fears of terrorism, immigration and changing demographics. It appeals, in many respects, to the same audience that propelled to the best-seller list Éric Zemmour’s “The French Suicide,” which blames the policies of a liberal elite and successive waves of Muslim immigration for the country’s decline and loss of identity.
Upon reading this review, one would be justified in their suspicion that the author hasn’t even read the book – and simply relied upon negative reviews offered up by fellow travelers on other sites. Not that this would be surprising in the least. We all know that abstracts like ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ and ‘objectivity’ will never get in the way of ideological purity.