Le Misérable

Michel Houellebecq: In France, he was characterized as a racist, misogynist pornographer.
photo: Pierre Ferbos
Michel Houellebecq: In France, he was characterized as a racist, misogynist pornographer.

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The Elementary Particles
By Michel Houellebecq
Translated from the French by Frank Wynne
Knopf, 264 pp., $25
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Taking the long, long view of human history, while making the argument that human value is now measured solely in terms of an individual's economic and erotic potential, Houellebecq privileges Darwin over Marx and Freud. None of the big guys are ever mentioned, although Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a crucial referent as The Elementary Particles veers into science fiction. Houellebecq's posthuman comedy is smart as well as smartass, but his satire is even sadder than it is Sadean.

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