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The Possibility of an Island

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A worldwide phenomenon and the most important French novelist since Albert Camus, Michel Houellebecq now delivers his magnum opus–a tale of our present circumstances told from the future, when humanity as we know it has vanished.

Surprisingly poignant, philosophically compelling, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, The Possibility of an Island is at once an indictment, an elegy, and a celebration of everything we have and are at risk of losing. It is a masterpiece from one of the world's most innovative writers.

352 pages, Paperback

First published August 31, 2005

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About the author

Michel Houellebecq

60 books6,952 followers
Michel Houellebecq (born Michel Thomas), born 26 February 1958 (birth certificate) or 1956 on the French island of Réunion, is a controversial and award-winning French novelist. To admirers he is a writer in the tradition of literary provocation that reaches back to the Marquis de Sade and Baudelaire; to detractors he is a peddler, who writes vulgar sleazy literature to shock. His works though, particularly Atomised, have received high praise from the French literary intelligentsia, with generally positive international critical response, Having written poetry and a biography of the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, he brought out his first novel Extension du domaine de la lutte in 1994. Les particules élémentaires followed in 1998 and Plateforme, in 2001. After a disastrous publicity tour for this book, which led to his being taken to court for inciting racial hatred, he went to Ireland to write. He currently resides in France, where he has been described as "France’s biggest literary export and, some say, greatest living writer". In 2010 he published La Carte et le Territoire (published the same year in English as The Map and the Territory) which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt; and, in 2015, Submission.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 939 reviews
Profile Image for RandomAnthony.
394 reviews110 followers
December 7, 2008
I don't know. This is one of those books that really seemed to be multiple books. Here are three of them:

1. This book is partly the product of a guy who read too much Celine and wants to talk about girls' asses. There's a nihilistic streak in which the narrator asserts that nothing matters but fucking, and getting old is the worst thing that could happen ever, and anybody who says anything against that are just fooling themselves. FOOLING THEMSELVES. While a few of the rantings are funny/insightful, more often than not they're bleak and not particularly interesting. Just because the narrator (or evangelists, hippies, etc.) says something at a loud volume doesn't mean it's true.

2. This book is partly a science fiction novel about the possibilities of immortality, the destruction of the human race and the rise of "neohumans". I couldn't complain...Houlellebecq did his research here and worked the scenario well.

3. This book is partly a meditation on isolation, immortality, and whether or not love provides meaning to our years on the planet (or even exists).

I didn't regret reading The Possibility of An Island but the bleak nature of the book bored me, and I had to trudge through the last hundred pages. Sometimes lazy writers use nihilism as a crutch. The novel could have been 200 pages shorter and might have served just as well as a short story. There's some decent writing here, and some interesting ideas, but I only want to shovel so much shit to find them. Houellebecq will have his beret-clad apologists, I'm sure, who will play the "you just don't get it" card, but you know what? I get it, I thought the book was ok, but...it didn't rock my world.
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 24 books1,328 followers
June 22, 2007
(Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)

So before anything else, let's just get this out of the way: that if you aren't horrendously and profoundly offended at least once by the work of controversial French author Michel Houellebecq, you're not paying close enough attention. Because Houellebecq, see, is what's known as a misanthrope; that far from being a racist, or a sexist, or a homophobe, he simply hates the entirety of humanity, every last one of us air-breathing meatsacks, and goes to great pains in his celebrated and award-winning novels to detail all the various ways that you too should hate humanity as well. And that of course is what marks him as different than the typical life-hating streetcorner obscenity screamer, is that Houellebecq has some incredibly astute observations about life to back these opinions up; that he has an almost magical ability, in fact, to take the detritus from those "news of the weird" departments, and to somehow combine them all into one of the bleakest yet fairest descriptions of humanity you will ever come across. His truths are difficult truths, and they're often insulting truths, and they are truths that very meticulously pick apart the veneer by which most everyday people live their lives; and it's for all these reasons that so many people have such a violent reaction to Houellebecq's work, and why there are as many haters of his fiction as there are champions of it.

Like...say, the Muslims, a group of which weren't very happy at all with what Houellebecq had to say about them in his 2001 sex-tourism farce Platform; so unhappy, in fact, that this group took Houellebecq to court for "attempting to incite racial violence," which like libel is easier to prove in European courts than American ones. And Houellebecq reacted to this lawsuit (which he was eventually cleared of) in the exact way you would expect Houellebecq to react to such a lawsuit; as if the entire thing was beneath him, and simply further proof of the point he makes in his books in the first place, of what a bunch of mouth-breathing jackasses humanity in general is. And let's face it, in a world of full-frontal nudity in movies and high-school massacres on television, it's almost impossible anymore for a mere novelist to arouse this kind of passion and ire in the general public; and thus it was that Houellebecq became a literary sensation in Europe (which was pretty much ignored by the media in the US, what a surprise), and suddenly found himself rich and famous and with several of his projects suddenly being adapted into major movies.

But a troubling question lingers after all this, of course: that when you write the most outrageous novel of the century, the one that simultaneously made you a media star and almost killed you, what do you do for an encore? In Houellebecq's case, he writes the darkly funny tale The Possibility of an Island, which ostensibly is a dystopian science-fiction novel, but as Houellebecq himself admits near the end, is in actuality an autobiography, his private views on all the things that happened to him as a result of Platform. And in this sense, the book is pretty much the most perfect thing he could've done after Platform -- not to try to outshock the public, which let's face it, he'll never be able to do again, but rather to reflect on both his mistakes and the ones made by the rest of the world, to mercilessly tear apart the culture of fame that made him a Continental star to begin with, and incidentally to further argue the main thrust of all of his books, i.e. that humanity is a pathetic, outdated concept that needs to be gotten rid of as soon as possible. As with his entire oeuvre, those who...
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
July 17, 2018
Male, rich, successful, 47, GSOH, not yet completely impotent WLTM female, slim, attractive, preferably blonde, 20 to 26. Maybe 28. I guess 30 isn't out of the question if you're really into keeping fit, classical dance or something similar, but let's face it, before we know what's happened you'll be getting old and fat, I won't be able to get it up for you any more and you'll decide you'd rather not be a burden and leave and a bit later top yourself. That keeps happening to me for some reason. Of course if you're young and beautiful you'll most likely decide that I'm the old, ugly and useless one and I'll be getting my heart broken and committing suicide, but I think it's slightly the better of the two options on offer. God (which I don't believe in, of course), I hate people. They killed my dog.

You're probably wondering why I'm telling you all this in a contact ad, but I've had this idea that maybe I could write down everything about my life, at great length, I don't want to miss anything out, this is the complete Proust trip, or more likely I mean Balzac. I love Balzac, especially Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes. That is a fantastic book. So where was I? oh yes, I am writing all this down, being strictly honest, I'm hiding nothing, honesty is what it's all about. Before I forget, when we have sex you need to pay attention to my balls, stroke them or maybe lick them, it's essential. If you don't understand this, don't bother to reply. But anyway, honesty. I am writing this down, and I've given my DNA to this weird sect, they are totally not the Raëlians, I'm tired of getting sued by all these crazies. When they've sorted out the technology, they say they're nearly there, they will create a clone of me. Then the clone will read what I've written and he'll basically become a second me. And when he's worn out, they'll create a third me, and so on. They can do the same with you. We'll have all eternity together, except of course that we'll soon be tired of each other.

Anyway, I know this is a bit early because we haven't yet met, but I have written a poem in your honour. Here it is. And okay, it's pretty stupid, but then so is all art and literature except maybe Balzac. I can't remember if I already mentioned that. So, the poem:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Life is as pointless
As being with you
I'm dying to know what you think. Or probably I should just say I'm dying, we all are, mortality is what it's about, but maybe we've got a couple of years left so why not spend them together torturing each other?

If this is you, reply to houyhnhnms4ever@yahoo.com enclosing a couple of nude photos.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
137 reviews101 followers
May 25, 2015
The day I took this out from the library, a greasy man in reflective sunglasses, floral shirt unbuttoned to reveal curlicues of revoltingly masculine chest hair, meowed at me as I stood frowning beneath a sticky sun.

I feel, upon reading this book, as though he were the author.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book938 followers
June 2, 2020
Autant le dire tout de suite : La possibilité d’une île est un grand roman désespéré ; un livre captivant, à l’écriture fluide et enroulée (assez éloignée du « style plat » de son premier roman, Extension du domaine de la lutte), qui m’a tenu en haleine jusqu’au bout.

Houellebecq y mêle plusieurs fils narratifs, de manière un peu déroutante au départ. D’abord l’histoire de Daniel (Daniel1), un humoriste passablement obsédé sexuel et parfaitement cynique, qui fréquente la jet-set parisienne et madrilène et porte sur le monde un regard désabusé, le plus souvent drôle. Son récit tourne essentiellement autour de sa vie sentimentale et sexuelle et de sa rencontre avec Isabelle, puis Esther. Dans les deux cas, l’obsession du sexe (exprimée à travers plusieurs passages assez piquants : descriptions de scènes de film porno, de partouzes, etc.) révèle une angoisse plus profonde : celle du vieillissement, de la déchéance physique progressive et de la persistance douloureuse du désir. La possibilité d’une île est un livre sur la mort.

Le récit de Daniel porte également sur sa rencontre avec la secte des « Elohimites » un mouvement pseudo-scientifico-religieux inspiré sans dissimulation par le mouvement raëlien. La fréquentation de cette secte donne lieu à différents rebondissements et développements sur la décadence des religions en Occident, sur la naissance de l’organisation sectaire, sur ses doctrines et notamment sur la recherche d’une forme de clonage, permettant aux fidèles d’espérer (en vain ?) une résurrection future et une possible immortalité. La possibilité d’une île est un livre sur la mort.

Enfin, il y a les récits de Daniel24 puis de Daniel25, avatars clonés qui poursuivent la lignée et, surtout, commentent le récit du premier Daniel à travers les siècles. Ces récits, qui prennent l’allure d’un roman de science-fiction post-apocalyptique, alternent avec ceux de Daniel1 et lui répondent point par point. Ces “néo-humains” (d'inspiration cyberpunk ou évocateurs du courant transhumaniste) sont des hommes génétiquement modifiés, invincibles et solitaires, qui semblent avoir échappé à la mort. Le reste de l’humanité est retombé dans un abrutissement animal complet. L’épilogue du livre, à la fois calme et déchirant, raconte le dernier voyage de Daniel25 à travers une Terre dévastée. La possibilité d’une île est un livre sur la mort.
Profile Image for Szplug.
467 reviews1,259 followers
March 17, 2011
Houellebecq is another writer in the grand French school of misanthropy, in the shadow of its master, Céline, but making every effort to cast his own. The Possibility of an Island is, I think, his best work to-date: bleak, brutal, funny, revolting, tender and, in the end, ineffably sad. The world of Houellebecq is one of cratered streets, perpetually in the dark because its inhabitants continually and maliciously put of the street lights to impair the ability of others to proceed safely.

The story is that of Daniel, a bitter Frenchman from roughly our times, as told by himself and commented upon by Daniels 24 and 25, the latest in a line of neohuman clones who have descended from the original's recorded DNA. Daniel is a French comedian who, at a relatively young age, has amassed a fortune via savage and biting routines and sketches he writes and performs to amuse the bastards and monkeys. Daniel despises mankind and its contemptible—and doomed—efforts to find happiness. Railing against a society where everything is sacrificed to the young—with their luscious and virile bodies that Houellebecq describes over and over—he mocks the old—decomposing, sagging and sexually repulsive—who try ever harder, and invest ever more time, in a pitiful effort to be young themselves. It is a world for kids in every way: morally, ethically, commercially, aesthetically. Daniel tries to find love with two different women: one, his age, who can love, but hates sex; another, of the younger generation who loves sex, but is incapable of love. In between these two failed relationships—and copious graphic depictions of all forms of sexual activity—Daniel becomes involved with a new age cult, the Elohimites, who preach, basically, a life of selfish gratification—fully in tune with the times—and of the imminent arrival of a benevolent race of advanced aliens, who will soon descend to the earth to bless all their elect with (what else?) release from the bondage of death and the joys of an immortal life of pleasure. Eventually, the leadership of the cult comes to realize that, as they are well-advanced—and funded—in their genetic research, perhaps the help of the Elohim can be dispensed with and man himself realize his own salvation. This does not quite work out according to plan, as we discover in the commentary of the Daniels of the far future. Humanity is a failed concept: can the neohumans be anything but failures themselves, descended as they are from such a corrupt and conflicted source material?

Houellebecq is most definitely not a writer for everyone; the gonzo sex scenes become tiresome at times—indeed, take on the feel of gratuitous padding—and there is very little to like or admire in any of his characters. Yet he deftly dissects the obession with self, the evolution of virtue into the fulfillment of personal desire, and the sex-celebrity-youth obsessed culture that we are in the process of fully-forming in our own world. The philosophic asides are frequently trenchant, and the science-fiction aspect of the story intriguing and mysterious. The coda, in which the ultimate Daniel clone goes searching for Xanadu, ends the novel on a fittingly bleak note; there are few happy endings in Houellebecq's world. The translation is fluid and clear, allowing the strength of the prose to propel the reader along. I truly like this Frenchman's work—even if I need to take a hot bath (after hiding the razor blades) once I've finished reading.
Profile Image for Talkincloud.
172 reviews3,364 followers
September 3, 2021
Ostatnio mam szczęście do powieści oscylujących wokół tego, co może wydarzyć się w przyszłości z gatunkiem ludzkim. Kręci mnie to. Lubię o tym czytać. #MożliwośćWyspy jest obrazem rzeczywistości, gdzie światem rządzą klony (w dalekiej, dalekiej przyszłości). To droga przez zgłębienie możliwego początku takiego fenomenu, zanurkowanie w sektę i nową, powstającą religię. Dobra wiwisekcja całego procesu prawdopodobieństwa tego, co może nastąpić.

To wszystko działo się na poziomie fabularnym — podobało mi się, ale, niestety, czasami było tłem dla wątłych rozważań narratora nad jego haniebnym losem i starzejącym się ciałem. Nie odbieram mu racji rozpaczania nad tym faktem (starzenia się), bo pewnie każdy z nas będzie się z tym kiedyś mierzył, ale ja nie jestem jednostką, dla której ciało i potrzeba seksualna to absolutny priorytet udanego życia. Houellebecq ma swoje przyzwyczajenia. Byłem świadom tego, jak podchodzi do niektórych spraw i że seks jest u niego często na pierwszym planie. Gdybanie nad tym, że narratorowi nie staje i użalanie się, że młodsza od bohatera dziewczyna nie chce z nim być (bo jest za stary) — to było dla mnie zwyczajnie za dużo.

Gdyby wyrzucić cześć przemyśleń i „problemów” głównej postaci książka byłaby krótsza i bardziej (dla mnie) przystępna. Uprzedzam — klarownie opisane sceny seksu rozciągają sie tutaj czasem na kilka stron. No i okay, ale nie mam apetytu na czytanie takich rzeczy, więc przez to mój odbiór i sama ocena powieści znacznie spadły. Niemniej, podobało mi się, patrząc rzetelnie na całość. Nie podzielam światopoglądu bohatera/narratora, ale była to jedna z ciekawszych perspektyw z jakimi się zetknąłem w ostatnim czasie. Ten autor nie jest i nie będzie dla wszystkich. Raczej po inne jego książki nie sięgnę. Aczkolwiek ta kończy z oceną 3.5/5 🌟
Profile Image for AiK.
548 reviews133 followers
September 4, 2023
Отталкиваясь от концепции, что все мы телесны, и самое главное в жизни - это секс, Уэльбек пишет роман, но данная сентенция звучит, как манипуляция. Его герой Даниэль зарабатывает писательством юмористических скетчей и выступлениями с ними на публике.

"Я в самом деле был язвительным наблюдателем современной действительности; просто мне казалось, что это элементарно, что в современной действительности и наблюдать-то почти нечего, настолько мы все упростили, обкорнали, столько уничтожили барьеров, табу, ложных надежд и несбыточных чаяний; ничего почти и не осталось. В социальном плане были богатые, были бедные, а между ними несколько шатких ступенек — социальная лестница: над восхождением полагалось издеваться; плюс ещё одна возможность, более реальная, — разорение. В плане сексуальном имелись люди, возбуждавшие желание, и люди, не возбуждавшие никаких желаний: простенький механизм, пусть и с некоторыми чуть более сложными вариациями (вроде гомосексуализма и прочего), который легко сводится к тщеславию и нарциссическим состязаниям, прекрасно описанным французскими моралистами ещё триста лет назад. Конечно, существовали ещё и порядочные люди — те, кто работает, кто занят в эффективном производстве потребительских товаров либо кто несколько комически или, если угодно, патетически (но я-то был в первую очередь комиком) жертвует всем ради детей; те, у кого в молодости не было красоты, позднее — честолюбия и всю жизнь — денег и кто, однако, всей душой, искреннее, чем кто-либо, привержен ценностям красоты, молодости, богатства, честолюбия и сексуальности; так сказать, соль земли. На этих, как ни прискорбно, нельзя было даже построить сюжет. Иногда я вводил кого-нибудь из них в свои скетчи, для разнообразия, для реализма; в действительности же мне это стало надоедать. Что всего хуже, я числился гуманистом — конечно, гуманистом рассерженным, но гуманистом. Чтобы стало понятно, вот одна из шуток, в изобилии украшавших мои спектакли: «Знаешь, как называется сало вокруг вагины?» — «Нет.» — «Женщина». "

Он верно характеризует себя "юмористическое отношение к жизни тем и хорошо, что позволяет безнаказанно вести себя как последняя свинья и в придачу стричь с собственной мерзости весьма недурные купоны".
Его герой мерзостен, он, что называется, моральный урод.
"В день, когда мой сын покончил с собой, я сделал себе яичницу с помидорами. Живая собака лучше мёртвого льва, прав был Екклесиаст. Я никогда не любил этого ребёнка: он был тупой, как его мать, и злой, как отец. Не вижу никакой трагедии в том, что он умер; без таких людей прекрасно можно обойтись."

Это стареющий мужчина, сексист, тяготеющий к юному, эротичному телу с красивым лицом, расист, нарциссист, эгоцентрик и мизантроп. Он ненавидит бедных, а ещё он удивляется, почему его не сравнивают с Бальзаком или Мольером - явная мания величия или, как минимум, необоснованно высокая самооценка. У Даниэля секс - это смысл жизни, центр мироздания. Он возмущен, что в современном мире люди спокойно относятся ко всем возможным извращениям, не хочу их перечислять, но разница в возрасте - это последнее табу, старым быть воспрещается. Он считает что сделал открытие, что счастье принадлежит молодежи, только из-за молодого тела и возможностью наслаждаться сексом.
Перемежая свои рассуждения цитатами от Шопенгауэра, Достоевского, Ницше, автор пытается создать иллюзию философского романа. Но весь роман зиждется на эгоцентризме, сексе и стенаниях, что его член стоит не так, как в молодости или вовсе не стоит, перемежаемая мечтой о бессмертии и вечном сексуальном удовольствии и возможности взять с собой в вечность любимую собаку.
Не знаю, как у других, но и герой книги, и сам роман вызвал у меня чувство гадливости.
Да, я услышу возражения, что это антиутопия, это социальная критика. Нет, нет и нет. Это и есть желаемый мир, это заявляемое среднестатистическое мужское мировоззрение, не ограниченное необходимостью выживания, клонированная 25 раз и все по одному и тому же кругу. Почему? Зачем заставлять читателей читать столько страниц об ощущениях, мыслях мужчины перед, во время и после секса, и все, что касается секса вообще. Автор с несомненным удовольствием описывает все это на сотнях страниц, возвращаясь снова и снова. Но вся манипуляция заключается в том, что нас пытаются убедить, что это критика.

Женщин в романе мало, а те, что есть не носят белья, имеют очень белую кожу и думают только о сексе. В этой книге умной женщиной считается та, которая знает, в какой момент прилюдно положить свою руку на член мужчины. И это тоже не социальная критика, потому что большинство женщин об этом не думает. Это глупое желание мужчин, тоже не всех.

Эвтаназия, старость - вот, что ещё мучает писателя . Франция - чересчур развитая страна, плохо обращающаяся со стариками, считает писатель.
Его первой любовью была Изабель, на которой он женился. Но как только она потолстела, он немедленно с ней развелся.
"Каждый год летом во Франции начинался сезон отпусков, и каждый год в больницах и домах для престарелых множество стариков умирали от отсутствия ухода; но никто уже давно не возмущался, в известном смысле это вошло в обычай, превратилось во вполне естественный способ решить статистическую проблему, снизить процент пожилых людей, неизбежно оказывающий пагубное влияние на экономический баланс страны. Изабель была не такая; пожив рядом с ней, я вновь осознал её моральное превосходство над большинством мужчин и женщин"
Изабель стареет, она ухаживает за своей пожилой, больной мамой, устраивает ее похороны и после этого совершает самоубийство.

Эволюция человечества видится ему по гедонистическому пути.

"Людей чем дальше, тем сильнее станет привлекать жизнь свободная, безответственная, целиком посвящённая неистовой погоне за наслаждениями; им захочется жить так, как живут уже сейчас, среди них kids, а когда бремя лет наконец придавит их, когда они больше не смогут выдерживать накал борьбы, они поставят точку — но прежде примкнут к элохимитской церкви, сдадут на хранение свой генетический код и умрут в надежде бесконечно длить такое же, полное удов��льствий существование." Такое клонированное бессмертие, по мнению Уэльбека, уничтожит естественное размножение человеческого рода. По частной собственности, в одном месте он предрекает, что после воскресения все имущество, дарованное элохимитской церкви, будет возвращено, в другом, что необходимости в частной собственности не возникнет.

Детали развития элохимитской секты с Вселенской акцией «Дайте людям секс. Доставьте им удовольствие» и воспоследовавшее решение о Стандартной Генетической Ректификации, которой следовало в обязательном порядке подвергать все возвращаемые к жизни ДНК и которая обозначала окончательный разрыв между неолюдьми и их предками, вызывает отвращение.
Кстати, вот этот момент СГР (Стандартной Генетической Ректификацией) и является отправной точкой, когда утопия превращается в антиутопию, а фактически в обман потребителя, поскольку вместо вечного удовольствия и вечной сексуальности, потребитель получает изменение генов, и приобретает черты растений. Я ещё раз подчеркну, что это не антиутопия. Это утопия, в которой изменили условия договора в одностороннем порядке.

Уэльбек считает, что такая траектория развития неизбежно приведет к появлению человека одинокого. "В сущности, все мы рождаемся одинокими, одинокими живем и одинокими умираем».
"Общество как таковое изжило себя, сыграло свою историческую роль; без него нельзя было обойтись на начальном этапе, когда человек только обрел спо��обность мыслить, но сегодня оно превратилось в бесполезный и громоздкий пережиток. То же самое происходит и с сексуальностью — с тех пор как искусственное оплодотворение вошло в повседневный обиход. "
Вот опять, Уэльбек возвращает мысль на тему сексуальности.

В общем, двадцать пятый клон Даниэля уже совсем не тот.

Судя по всему, ради этой идеи, идеи отчуждения, обособления каждой человеческой особи в ходе эволюции, был написан этот весьма объемистый роман. Лично мне кажется, что в логике этого вывода имеется изъян: секс - не смысл жизни. Без изобилия секса на страницах романа, похоже, не может сам писатель.

Роман мне кажется конъюнктурным. Без особого труда различаются приметы времени, в котором был написан роман, в начале 2000-х, темы романа взяты из заголовков - страх перед СПИДом, от которого тогда ещё умирали, изобретение клонирования.

Подытоживая, я рассматриваю в качестве бреда эту утопию стареющего плейбоевого мужского мира о бессмертии сексуального наслаждения и вечной молодости, тем не менее, судя по тиражам, отвечающего чаяниям читателей. Не кажутся ли Вам мелкими и пошлыми мечты подобных мужчин с унынием воззрящих на проблему старческой эректильной дисфункции, как на движущую силу эволюции человечества, поддерживаемую всей системой социальной организации мира?
Profile Image for Steven  Godin.
2,495 reviews2,381 followers
March 22, 2022

Houellebecq just loves to provoke the left; specifically the french intellectual left, and he's at it again here in what was for me the most disappointing of the five Houellebecq novels I've read. Despite thowing up some interesting questions regarding youth, immortality, science, and sex being the only route to transcendence, and also the neat idea of alternating chapters between Daniel1 and his cloned thousand years self Daniel24, for the most part I was bored. For whatever reason, it just never fully captured my attention like some of his others have done. I wouldn't at all be surprised if before coming up with the Daniel characters he came up (and probably came over) with the knickerless model girlfriend first. Also, what I found quite off-putting, was his apparent obsession with pubescent girls. There is a scene involving 13-year-olds on stage at a holiday talent show that was typical Houellebecq. I just want to forget this novel in hurry and move on.
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,050 reviews4,119 followers
May 27, 2014
Middle-aged and misanthropic and suffering from a rock-hard cucumber in the pants? Introducing the novels of Michel Houellebecq. This one experiments with SF concepts alongside its middle-aged-misanthrope-having-lots-of-implausible-sex plot (the protag in this case a bile-spouting gagmeister) as our antihero secures himself immortality as part of a sex-tourist cult during his post-midlife crisis. As in his previous novels, the sex is usually erotic and depressing at the same time and the prose touches upon the brutal truths of life, the first being that all males are self-loathing humping machines, and others similar in timbre with a lot of cod-scientific waffle to beef up the general concept. Good.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,344 reviews319 followers
March 5, 2022
Когато любовта е проста
Когато всичко те вълнува -
във времето навярно съществува
възможността за остров.

Трябва да се чете Уелбек, при него фалшиво и напудрено няма!

И осмислянето на съществуването ни е понякога тежко и неблагодарно бреме. Но както е казано, блажени са нищите духом, защото тяхно уж ще е царството небесно. :)

За мен и останалите нормални люде се надявам да има Ад, интересен поне колкото този описан от Уелбек. Или поне по един остров...

Моята оценка - 4,5*.


"Въпреки че всеки от нас притежава съпротивителни способности, той рано или късно умира от любов или от липса на любов, в крайна сметка любовта неизбежно е убийствена."
Profile Image for Aaron Arnold.
442 reviews135 followers
September 9, 2015
Reading negative reviews of Houellebecq novels is a good way to be amused for about five minutes, because, aside from the rare honest ones where the reviewer frankly states they just didn't care for him, it's pretty obvious that most of his detractors know that something is going over their heads, but they can't admit out loud that they don't get the joke. I say that as a confirmed fan, but I just don't see how it's possible to give this bleak, hilarious, passionate, misanthropic novel a fair read and not come away moved in some fashion. It's a science fiction novel that's not really interested in the genre's trappings, a religious novel that treats faith as a simple yet beguiling scam, and a novel about love with some of the least romantic passages imaginable. And, best of all, unlike with a Camus novel, who he's frequently compared to, it's actually really funny.

Instead of reviewing the book itself, it would almost be more interesting to review its fans. What kind of person likes Houellebecq novels? Well, a confirmed pessimistic streak is a must, the conviction that every silver lining has a cloud. However, it's not enough merely to acknowledge that the worst will usually come to pass, you also need some stoicism - to even remark on the plain fact that we live in a universe of routine disappointments and general unpleasantness is witless and dull. Life isn't something to be struggled against, merely endured; complaining is just a waste of time. Luckily there's the pastime of sex with hot girls to distract you, the more the better, and even more luckily hot girls seem to be in plentiful supply. Your casual familiarity with such gloomy personages as Schopenhauer and Hegel gives you a proper detachment from the world, but you can still have fun; "mindless pleasures", in Pynchon's phrase.

Yet you will always feel that post-coital ennui, the constant reminder that the brief moments of pleasure you experience are meaningless in the long run, not only cosmically but also personally. Fortunately, you have the temperament to find this state of affairs not only vaguely tolerable, in spite of your profound alienation from society and its moral strictures, but also somewhat funny, and when you're not banging hot girls you take fulfillment where you can find it, which seems to be most places. Despite the inevitable process of aging, which the youth-obsessed general culture unavoidably reminds you of as frequently as possible, and your near-total emotional isolation from your fellow man, you can conclude that life's not so bad really, or at least that the idea of life being any better is an idle dream unworthy of a sophisticated misanthrope such as yourself.

Now that the pool of potential fans has been whittled down, let's examine the book itself. Daniel is a fairly successful standup comedian who's reached a decent level of fame but can't really enjoy life, due to a persistent anomie which seems to bug some readers but which I considered plausible enough. At a certain point in his career, which is built on an interesting type of exploitation of our tendency to find humor in negativity (the descriptions of his jokes about racism/violence/pedophilia are hilarious), he stumbles upon a Scientology/Raelian-ish religious cult called the Elohimites that promises immortal life. He transitions from the doomed love for his wife to the doomed lust for his girlfriend, and eventually discovers that the Elohimite promise of transcending mortality is actually achievable. There's a frame story set in the future that confirms this, and shows how empty and meaningless it is to remove human weaknesses without adding in new strengths to replace them.

However, Houellebecq's real appeal to me is not his plots, as serviceable as they may be; no one is going to mistake this for a hard sci-fi novel about transhumanism. It's not his prose style either, which on a sentence-by-sentence level is not especially captivating. He gets the job done, but I doubt that many of his lines will serve as epigraphs for other novels. It's his role as a sort of devil's advocate for depression that fascinates me, since he's very good at building up opinions that build up like thunderclouds only to burst in an intensely arguable shower over the reader. Here he is on sharing feelings:

"Your only chance of survival, if you are sincerely smitten, lies in hiding this fact from the woman you love, of feigning casual detachment under all circumstances. What sadness there is in this simple observation! What an accusation against man! However, it never occurred to me to contest this law, nor to imagine disobeying it: love makes you weak, and the weaker of the two is oppressed, tortured, and finally killed by the other, who in his or her turn oppresses, tortures, and kills without having evil intentions, without even getting pleasure from it, with complete indifference; that's what men normally call love."

There are days I might agree with that, and days I would definitely disagree. What's so great about it is the way he uses this character's thoughts (who undoubtedly shares a great deal with the real Houellebecq himself) to lay bare an ugly, unpleasant notion hidden away and present it in all its grotesque splendor. What in fact is the right way to look at love? What laws of power govern the way that men confess their passions and weaknesses to the women they care about? What if he's right - what would that mean? Similarly, here he is on sex:

"Sexual pleasure was not only superior, in refinement and violence, to all the other pleasures life had to offer; it was not only the one pleasure with which there is no collateral damage to the organism, but which on the contrary contributes to maintaining it at its highest level of vitality and strength; it was in truth the sole pleasure, the sole objective of human existence, and all other pleasures - whether associated with rich food, tobacco, alcohol or drugs - were only derisory and desperate compensations, mini-suicides that did not have the courage to speak their name, attempts to speed up the destruction of a body that no longer had access to the one real pleasure."

Maybe this guy has just had some really, really good sex; maybe he's wrong and all those other pleasures are actually superior; maybe it's impossible to say for sure and each has its ups and downs. For myself, I don't think that you can group vices like alcohol or drugs with sex, even if it's certainly true that sex can hurt people around you in the same way as a drinking problem or drugs addiction, to say nothing of potential diseases and so on. Sex is different and better than those things, even if he's possibly a little too rapturous. But it's the way that you agree or disagree with him that's important. Here's a long quote about the main character's wife Isabelle and girlfriend Esther that contains many hours of potential debate material:

"Isabelle did not like sexual pleasure, but Esther did not like love, she did not want to be in love, she refused this feeling of exclusivity, of dependence, and her whole generation refused it with her. I was wandering among them like some kind of prehistoric monster with my romantic silliness, my attachments, my chains. For Esther, as for all the young girls of her generation, sexuality was just a pleasant pastime, driven by seduction and eroticism, which implied no particular sentimental commitment; undoubtedly love, like pity, according to Nietzche, had never been anything but a fiction invented by the weak to make the strong feel guilty, to introduce limits to their natural freedom and ferocity. Women had been weak, in particular at the moment of giving birth, early on they had needed to live under the guardianship of a powerful protector, and to this end they had invented love, but now they had become strong, they were independent and free, and they had given up inspiring or indeed feeling a sentiment that no longer had any concrete justification. The centuries-old male project, perfectly expressed nowadays by pornographic films, that consisted of ridding sexuality of any emotional connotation in order to bring it back into the realm of pure entertainment had finally, in this generation, been accomplished. What I was feeling, these young people could not feel, nor even exactly understand, and if they had been able to feel something like it, it would have made them uncomfortable, as if it were something ridiculous and a little shameful, like stigmata in ancient times. They had succeeded, after decades of conditioning and effort, they had finally succeeded in tearing from their hearts one of the oldest human feelings, and now it was done, what had been destroyed could no longer be put back together, no more than the pieces of a broken cup can be reassembled, they had reached their goal: at no moment in their lives would they ever know love. They were free."

Houellebecq is an unflinching chronicler of the way that an individual adjusts to the mismatch between reality and expectations, whether the subject is love, sex, society, or self-worth. While he isn't always correct, or even necessarily insightful, he's always thought-provoking, or at least wrong in an interesting way. His unenthusiastic embrace of the world can be unpleasant, yet never unpleasurable, and when you're done with one of his novels, it makes you appreciate the upsides of life all the more.
Profile Image for Roula.
523 reviews147 followers
May 25, 2017
εδω θα ταιριαζε και το gif της γιαγιας Rose απο τον τιτανικο που λεει κατι του τυπου: "it's been 85 years".τοσο καιρο φαινεται να διαβαζα αυτο το βιβλιο.ο λογοςομως σε καμια περιπτωση δεν ηταν επειδη δε μου αρε��ε.ξεκινησα ενα του Πιντσον, το παρρατησα, επιασα αυτο , επαθα ενα reader's block αλλα ειμαι ακομη εδω :)
οσον αφορα στο βιβλιο τωρα: ηταν η απολυτη συνταγη θεραπειας της βαρεμαρας για το διαβασμα που με εχει πιασει.παρα πολυ ενδιαφερον θεμα, δοσμενο μεσα απο την απολυτα κυνικη ματια του Houellebecq.ειναι το δευτερο βιβλιο του που διαβαζω και ανακαλυπτω οτι οσα εχει να πει αυτος ο τυπος θελω πολυ να τα ακουσω .ακομη και αν δεν ειναι ευχαριστα...
Profile Image for Théo d'Or .
385 reviews184 followers
October 29, 2021
" Who, among us deserves eternal life ? "

A question that - placed out of a well-defined context - can create controverses..
Houellebecq wrote this book at 49, and the chosen theme leads me to believe that the anguish of aging haunted him from a fairly young age. The concept of immortality, or more precisely - the condition of ordinary immortal - is debated here in the form of a SF, in which Houellebecq paroxysms his social critique of modern man, his complaint about aging, and cult of youth and of the future, for that his memoirs are read by the " isotopes " of the future, ( if the narrator of the memoirs is Daniel 1, these memoirs will be read - in learning and taking over the memory - by the posthuman isotopes Daniel 20, 21, etc ) .
Thus the chain does not break , and immortality is at our feet, but an asexual, gray immortality, devoid of lusts, passions, and almost everything that guides us in life and can destroy us.
Arriving here, I wondered why Houellebecq did not transposes himself into a character, as he did in " The Map and the Territory ". I suspect that if he had done that here, he would have transposed himself into a Daniel 69. Connoisseurs can guess why..
Houellebecq succeeds here in an absolute forcing of all limits and the creation of a temple of excess, in the purest sadian way. If in " Les Particules Élémentaires " - his thinking develops dichotomously, here, the mechanism of this thinking is embodied in a philosophical comedian, in fact, H' s novel is not valuable so much as a SF, but as a philosophical manifesto.
Houellebecq becomes downright sadistic in his analysis of aging, and the sentiment of love. Love between two human animals is not possible in the absence of sexual attraction. You may ask how, in the case of a true love ? Through the aging of the woman. Quite cinic, isn't that ?
I have to add, though, one thing in this regard : I don't know a writer more dedicated to women than Houellebecq.
Lack of desire, in contact with the aging of one of the partners excludes the eternity of happiness . This does not exclude, however, short-term happiness, the only one accesible to man.
Houellebecq's characters are lucid pessimists, yet they are marked by the lack of love. So will be the isotope Daniel 25, which breaks the silence and aseptic isolation that ensures the perpetuation of the species into immortality. His search is nothing but the pursuit of the community of rebellious fellows against immortality, a search that ends in total isolation.
" The future was empty. The future was the mountain ".
Above all, Houellebecq's conclusion is, and is not pessimistic. More importantly, is that I do not see a continuation of this path.
Profile Image for Susana.
490 reviews150 followers
June 25, 2022
(review in English below)

3,5 *

A surpreender pela positiva, mas a desiludir-me no final.

Ler um livro de Houellebecq não estava de todo nos meus planos, mas alguém achou que eu era capaz de gostar deste... e não se enganou!

Mantive-me sempre interessada, até começar a parte final (que corresponde à parte da sinopse que diz "A leitura destes diários levará Daniel25 a partir em procura de uma possível ilha utópica, pondo em risco a sua imortalidade"), que achei arrastada e inconsequente - mas talvez fosse essa a intenção.

Tal como li num comentário algures aqui no Goodreads, pareceu-me que o autor não é na verdade tão misantropo/misógino como se apresenta; que acredita no amor; e que terá tido um ou mais desgostos que o tornaram cínico no que toca às relações pessoais.

Esta obra tem alguns aspectos aparentemente autobiográficos, o que a torna mais interessante, pelo menos para mim. E suscita algumas reflexões sobre a vida em geral.

Gostei, portanto.

I was positively surprised, but the last part was a let down.

To read a book by Houellebecq was not in my plans, but someone thought that I might like this one... and they were right!

It kept me always interested, until the beginning of the last part, which I found to be dragging and pointless - but maybe it was meant to be exactly that.

Similar to what I read in a comment somewhere in Goodreads, I felt that the author is not in fact such a misanthrope/misogynist as he portrays himself; that he believes in love; and that he might have had one heartbreak or two, making him cynical about relationships.

This book seems to have some biographical aspects, adding interest, at least for me. And it triggers a number of reflections about life in general.

So, I liked it!
Profile Image for Michael.
49 reviews6 followers
December 20, 2011
I was recently in a class where the teacher was talking about how "meaning" is derived from literature through subtext. Most literature in the past generated subtext in opposition to cultural norms or censorship imposed by the author or society. A classic example might be Hemingway's story "Hills like White Elephants," which deals with abortion only subtextually because stories about abortion were simply not written at the time.

So the question becomes: In a society where nothing is taboo and everything is revealed, how is subtext created? Where is the "meaning" in literature of today?

In this book and perhaps in all his works, Houellebecq seems to cut right to this matter. There is nothing he wont write, no boundary he wont cross. He is willing to reveal every desire and turn his critical, cynical perception on all that is sacred. In a work like this where is the subtext?

I don't have an answer but I did find meaning in this book. There is something about Houellebecq's brutal honesty(which shouldn't be dismissed as mere controversy) that appeals to me but at this moment I can't quite elucidate. His world view is certainly very dark but if you can enjoy his insights without getting sucked into the black hole, it is well worth it.
Profile Image for withdrawn.
263 reviews258 followers
February 9, 2016
"J'étais, je n'étais plus. La vie était réelle."

La possibilité d’une île

The Possibility of an Island

A word of thanks to Léonard Gaya for his recommendation. The book was an interesting challenge. The kind of book I thoroughly enjoy.

I have to admit that in a world of readers divided into “J’adore Houellebecq” and “J l’haïs”, I find myself on the ‘adore’ side. I may tire of him some day, as there is a bit of repetition in his message, but he writes with wit, intelligence and, to a great extent, I agree with his central message: “Modern humankind lacks basic values and we are not, perhaps never have been, capable of much better. But there was a Golden Age, wasn’t there?”

Having read, and been exhilarated by Houellebecq’s most recent novel (2015), Soumission, I thought I knew what to expect from him in this novel (2005): something critical of modern society; at times crude; political; satirical; and, within a plausible world. Critical of modern society – definitely. Crude – at times, yes. Not overly so but often unnecessarily so. Political - Not really. Satirical – Not in the way Soumission is. Partly because of the lack of political commentary. Partly because the irony is less humorous. Within a plausible world – Starts out that way but moves on into a Sci-Fi world – dystopic/utopic take your pick.

I tend not to retell the story in my reviews and will follow that inclination here. There are lots of reviews of the story line elsewhere, either on GR or more ‘professional’ reviews, i.e. somebody who gets paid. What follows is my take of what Houellebecq was trying to tell us, because you can be sure that Houellebecq will always have a serious message about the human condition. So here comes the ‘spoiler’: This book is about DEATH. There you have it. Perhaps more properly it is about humankind wanting to avoid death. But let’s not be fooled, ‘Death’ is not a simple “You’re alive or you’re dead” bifurcation for Houellebecq. In between, there is a lot of genetic thinking (think Richard Dawkins and friends) and the possibility of old age, with all of its disadvantages and the constant irritation of a sex drive, with the complications of, dare I say it in our Houellebecqian cynical age, “LOVE”, or at least “love”.

To unpack all of that a bit took Houellebecq most of the book, but in an interesting, character development sort of way. Daniel1 (as opposed to Daniel24 land Daniel24) takes us through his life as he progresses from a cynical young man with little, or no respect for his fellow beings, to a somewhat confused older man who is aware of his failing sexual capacities and the lack of any love in his life. He is basically lonely and, although he has become fantastically wealthy, lost in life. It is at this point in the story that Daniel1 undertakes an analysis, not only of his own life, but of human life in general. The result of this analysis falls somewhere between Richard Dawkins’ teleology and the Buddha’s soteriology. That is, we exist to continue our genetic line, to keep our DNA out there. This is, as per Dawkins, our sole raison d’être. As for the Buddha, the only cure for all of the suffering that goes with Dawkins point of view is to get over the desires associated with the above.

So the book unfolds with the development of the life of Daniel1 as he moves from being a hedonistic young man taking every sexual opportunity to being an older man aware of his flagging sexual capabilities, lack of love in his life and no progeny (well one son whom he detests and with whom he has no contact whatsoever. Not really a good example of passing on the genetic inheritance.) Along the way, Daniel1 realizes that part of his drive to reproduce involves the idea of love, and he does know what love is. It’s then other side of the coin of sex. Looking at the relationships of his life, he realizes that he’s never been able to toss the coin in his hand and get the obverse. In one case, the woman, Isabelle, provided a strong love interest but, finally, lacked the necessary sex drive. The other woman, a young sex-driven beauty, Esther, carried Daniel1 into a world of deeply felt love and every man’s dream of sexual ecstasy. And then left him without so much as a, “Goodbye, might catch ya’ later.” Women – either love without sex or sex without love. What is wrong in Houellebecq’s world. The same problem arose in Soumission. There the resolution was much easier – Islam (Soumission!!). A Western conception of love doesn’t come into it.

Diversion: Before looking into Houellebecq’s non-solution to this age-old human dilemma, I would like to turn briefly to an issue which shows up in Soumission and seems to underlie his view of modern humanity. It is the principle represented by Joris-Karl Huysmans in Soumission. To quote La possibilité d’une île:

“It’s sad, the wreckage of a civilisation. It’s sad to see the most beautiful minds slipping into the shade – we start by feeling the slightest unease in life, and we finish by wishing for the establishment of an Islamic republic.” (My translation – sorry.)

Besides setting the grounds for Soumission, this quote suggests, as does Huysmans, that there was a better time…that there was a time of a Western civilization which is now past. In Soumission, this golden age is said to have been brought to an end during the 1960s. The great youth movement of that time, the much celebrated May ’68 in France, is seen by Houellebecq as the beginning of the end of a golden age. In a certain sense, I agree with him. I was there. Not in France but definitely in the streets promoting “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll’. I was one of those who challenged calling my boss Mr. Smith. He became ‘Bob’ and had no say in the matter. My university professors stopped being Professor Whatever. They were Eric, Peter and Alice. ‘Virginity’ became a bad word and the values of our parents (who basically didn’t know where I was or what I was doing) were there to be challenged and overturned. WE took Nietzsche seriously and decided to “revalue all values”. And we had a lot of fun. Indeed, growing up, becoming an ‘adult’ was a pretty strange concept. I avoided it like the plague.

Then we had our own kids. Their teachers had only first names and we taught our children to challenge them and to find their own way of seeing the world. There was no authority (except for us as their parents who were having a hell of a time keeping them from self destruction and wishing they would just grow up and move out.) We ended up with a society with which we are not necessarily happy. A great deal of human respect with which we had grown up and taken for granted had disappeared. Our children not only didn’t call the teacher Madame Fleury, they called her a ‘shithead’. ‘Fuck’ became the most popular word, not only in the English language, but in the world over. I would have preferred ‘Marie’. Loosened sexual controls somehow turned into 13 year-old boys assaulting 13 year-old girls in the school hallways. We had created a Golem and it is running amuck in the streets. (Yeah. I know. I sound like an old man. It’s not really that bad, but Houellebecq believes so.) My point is that Houellebecq, who detests the Baby Boomers, sees us as being in a time of despair today and it's all our fault. Mea culpa.

While I am in some agreement with Houellebecq in his judgement here, I feel that it takes away from the story. It does so because Houellebecq’s problem lies not in this generation, although he sees Esther’s free sexuality as destructive of love, when it’s not directed at him of course. Her generation is a disaster in his view. But then, he hasn’t done any better in his life – his generation is equally a result of the 60s. After this aside in the book, it becomes apparent that the problem is not with any generation. The problem is the human condition. We want sex whenever and wherever with whomever while wanting the security of love. There is a terrible tension in this. The tension need not be so destructive though. Some of us manage that quite well however. Just saying, M Houellebecq.

Back to our story: Having defined the genetic existential problem, Houellebecq offers us a somewhat Buddhist soteriological solution by way of New Religious Movement (NRM), the so-called “Elohimites” a pseudo-scientific NRM which offers an innovative means to avoid death by having one’s DNA replicated eternally thus ensuring that each ‘generation’ is an exact replication of the last and the first. Thus Daniel24 and Daniel25 are genetically identical to Daniel1 – just a couple of millennia later. And it’s all done in the lab. As each generation ages and dies off, they are replaced by their 18-year-old genetic duplicate. The concept seems to be that if, as genetic biologists like Dawkins assert, our only reason for existing is to pass on our DNA, replication would seem to fit that end. That in turn would obviate the need for sex and love which only serve our original teleology. A very Buddhist end in my view. Suffering, based on our bodily desires, ends. Indeed, as an afterthought, the geneticists decide to replace our need for food as well. A little water and some salts and we’re good to go. Thus is created a species of ‘neo-humans’ that inhabits protected environments, each member living alone, not being in need of other neo-humans (not sure why). Pets are allowed so the Daniels keep a small dog, also genetically replicated, named Fox

The main story is the autobiography of Daniel1. Daniel24 and his replacement, Daniel25, for the most part provide a sort of Greek chorus commentary going on Daniel1’s biography. They also tell us something of themselves and other neo-humans with whom they maintain electronic contact. Finally, not happy with his existence, Daniel25, apparently like other neo-humans, becomes dissatisfied, leaves the comfort and safety of his home to wander off into the world. The world in the last couple of millennia has been pretty well messed up by nuclear wars and environmental disaster. The rest of the human race has been reduced to the state of savages. Daniel25 puts himself out there, supposedly to indicate once again that a utopia, even without sex, is still not perfect. So the Buddha was wrong. There's something more to us than a need to replicate and live forever. I'm not sure what Daniel25 was looking for but he shows little concern that he, the line of Daniels, will die out.

I’ll stop now. No need to spoil it for anyone who may have persevered with this review.

"Je n'étais pas, à proprement parler, certain de vouloir vivre, mais l'idée de la mort n'avait aucune consistance. Je percevais mon corps comme un véhicule, mais c'était un véhicule de rien. Je n'avais pas été capable d'accéder à l'Esprit; je continuais, pourtant, à attendre un signe."

By the way, just to note that there are references to the original pragmatist and semiologist, Charles Sanders Peirce (1839 - 1914). Although little appreciated today, he altered the course of American philosophy, as the father of pragmatism, as well as of European philosophy with his views on semiology. The reference to "un signe" above is meant to take us back to Peirce. A personal note here. In 1969, I attended my first philosophical discussion which featured two renowned American philosophers: Charles Hartshorne (June 1897 - October 2000) and Paul Weiss (May 1901 - July 2002), who were known for publishing the collected papers of Peirce (pronounced Purse). They might also be known for their longevity. Perhaps Peirce does have something to do with living forever. I don't want to live forever (definitely not) but I shall be getting back to reading Peirce.
Profile Image for Veronika Sebechlebská.
381 reviews129 followers
June 4, 2021
Ako by asi vyzeral život, keby v ňom nebola smrť? (rereading po 5 rokoch)

Ako „príkry pozorovateľ spoločenských javov“ sa Houellebecq ostrím svojej irónie nielenže pitve v neduhoch, ktorými ako spoločnosť trpíme, ale prostredníctvom hyperbol akoby nám ich ešte aj ukazoval pod zväčšovacím sklom. Pohľad je to poučný, v jeho podaní často dokonca zábavný, ale príjemný, to nie je nikdy.

Viac tu: https://kultura.sme.sk/c/22662167/ako...
Profile Image for Rafal.
329 reviews18 followers
March 22, 2021
Bardzo mnie urzekła ta książka.

Jak to zwykle u tego autora jest dość dosadna i bezkompromisowa w surowej ocenie ludzkości oraz tego jak zmierzamy do nieuniknionej zagłady na własne życzenie. Tutaj pociągnął sprawę trochę dalej. Po zagładzie następuje pewna forma odrodzenia i w sumie też nie jest za wesoło.

Jest w tej powieści bardzo dużo fajnych wątków: społecznych, psychologicznych, filozoficznych. Mi najbardziej spodobał się sposób przedstawienia relacji mężczyzny z upływającym czasem. Panowie - co tu dużo mówić - nie radzimy sobie z tym najlepiej a ta książka opisuje to w sposób bardzo celny.

Zdecydowanie jest to fajny, ponury Houellebecq.
Profile Image for Eliasdgian.
413 reviews116 followers
March 19, 2019
Η τήξη των πάγων έλαβε χώρα με το τέλος της Πρώτης Ελάττωσης, και έριξε τον πληθυσμό του πλανήτη από τα δεκατέσσερα δισεκατομμύρια στα επτακόσια εκατομμύρια ανθρώπους. Η Δεύτερη Ελάττωση υπήρξε πιο σταδιακή• έλαβε χώρα καθ’ όλη τη διάρκεια της Μεγάλης Αποξήρανσης και συνεχίζεται έως και τις μέρες μας. Η Τρίτη Ελάττωση θα είναι οριστική• αναμένεται”.

Οι εικοστός τέταρτος (Ντάνιελ 24) και εικοστός πέμπτος (Ντάνιελ 25) κλώνοι του Ντάνιελ (Ντάνιελ 1) αποτελούν πανομοιότυπα αντίγραφα του προγόνου τους, με ορισμένες ιδιαιτερότητες όμως: δεν γελούν, δεν δακρύζουν και δεν αγαπούν. Όπως και οι υπόλοιποι νεοάνθρωποι (δυο χιλιάδες χρόνια μετά), αδυνατούν να αισθανθούν καλοσύνη, συμπόνοια, αφοσίωση κι αλτρουισμό. Ζουν κατά μόνας, σε θύλακες προστατευμένους μ’ ένα ιδιαίτερα εξελιγμένο σύστημα ασφαλείας κι εξοπλισμένους με ένα αξιόπιστο σύστημα αναπαραγωγής και με αυτόνομο δίκτυο επικοινωνιών. Κάθε καινούργιος κλώνος συμπυκνώνει τη γνώση και τις αναμνήσεις του προκατόχου του, άρα κάθε καινούργιος ‘Ντάνιελ’ μπορεί να αφηγηθεί, αλλά όχι και να κατανοήσει ή να συναισθανθεί, τη ζωή των προγόνων του.

Ο Ντάνιελ 24, λοιπόν, κι αμέσως μετά ο Ντάνιελ 25, διηγούνται τη ζωή του Ντάνιελ 1, ενός εκκεντρικού καλλιτέχνη, που εκτός από τη γρήγορη ανέλιξή του προς τη δόξα και το χρήμα, η ζωή του σημαδεύτηκε από δύο γυναίκες, την Ιζαμπέλ και την Έστερ, και από ένα μάλλον συμπτωματικό γεγονός, τη συμμετοχή του σε μια σέχτα που λάτρευε τους Ελοχείμ (!), κάτι εξωγήινα πλάσματα, υπεύθυνα, υποτίθεται, για τη δημιουργία της ανθρωπότητας και του συνόλου της ζωής σ’ αυτόν τον πλανήτη. Μόνο που η σέχτα των ελοχειμιτών θα εξελιχθεί σταδιακά σ’ ένα δυναμικό θρησκευτικό κίνημα, τον ελοχειμισμό, που, προσαρμοσμένος καθώς ήταν στον πολιτισμό της ψυχαγωγίας, συρρίκνωνε την ανθρώπινη ύπαρξη σε δύο κατηγορίες, το συμφέρον και την απόλαυση. Ο ελοχειμισμός, μεταξύ άλλων, δεν επέβαλε κανέναν ηθικό καταναγκασμό και χρησιμοποιούσε προς όφελός του τη θεμελιακή υπόσχεση όλων των μονοθεϊστικών θρησκειών, τη νίκη κατά του θανάτου.

Η δυνατότητα ενός νησιού, τελικά, είναι η χαμένη δυνατότητα της ανθρωπότητας• είναι η ανικανότητα του σύγχρονου ανθρώπου να επιβληθεί στην υλική του φύση και να χαλιναγωγήσει τις σωματικές του επιθυμίες• είναι, τέλος, η μυωπική αντιμετώπιση του κοινωνικού του ρόλου και προορισμού και η βίωση μιας καθημερινότητας που τείνει να μεταβληθεί σ’ έναν διαρκή, όσο κι ατελέσφορο, αγώνα κατανάλωσης.

Ωραίες ιδέες συνυπάρχουν με τις γνωστές εμμονές του Ουελμπέκ, αλλά, δυστυχώς, το αποτέλεσμα είναι μάλλον άνισο και κουραστικό. Τρία αστέρια, μάλλον επιεικώς (κι ευτυχώς που απουσίαζε οποιαδήποτε αναφορά σε Νεφελίμ, γίγαντες ή πεπτωκότες αγγέλους, γιατί τότε θα πίστευα ότι διαβάζω λάθος συγγραφέα!).
6 reviews3 followers
November 11, 2007
The first great novel of the twenty-first century written by the only writer living today who really matters. Houellebecq in the year 2005 did what Aldous Huxley did in Brave New World in 1932..., except that Houellebecq's characters are so much more well-defined, real and wacky...(utterly our age...)...
This novel, like "Les Particules Elementaires" goes off on crazy philosophical tangents in which the narractive stream of the novel disappears and we are subjected to bold and controversial critiques of the safe left-wing ways of thinking that predominate the well-educated Western person of the early twenfty-first century (what we have inherited from the late-sixties free-speech Berkeley crowd - ironically enough, another form of intellectual fascism like all the others...) The difference being that in "La Possibilite..." there is some faith in the possibility of human redemption - something quite remarkable from a Frenchman known for focussing on the darkness of animal alpha-male posturing, including obsessive masturbation, and the inherent sillines of Islam which led to him being essentially kicked out of France all together.
The ending, though of course not a 'happy' one (he is a fucking frenchmen for Chrissakes), is completely sublime in its stressing of the essence of the human search and need for love, beauty and art...read it, I tell 'ya...
I have recommended Houellebecq to every fool I know who had ever read at least one novel from cover to cover for the sheer fun of it and out of these hundred or so people only about five have actually read him and they have all thanked me a thousandfold...
Profile Image for Cee.
979 reviews224 followers
July 21, 2016
There is not a single thing that I enjoy about Houellebecq - and it's not all his fault.

The Possibility of an Island is extremely depressing. The main characters compress life into one single drive of pleasure - sex. Life is one giant ball of suffering, with only the pinpricks of light that sex brings. The moment you get older (think forty-fifty-ish), there is no reason for you to live, since you're old and no one wants to have sex with you.

Because of this particular ontology, the book is obsessed with sex in the most banal and detached way possible. It's incredibly dull, honestly.

The Possibility of an Island is a thought experiment elaborating on what would happen if personal contact would be completely eliminated and if immortality through genetical cloning would be possible. It could also easily have been condensed into a 80-page novella, but Houellebecq revels in describing the sexual adventures of our protagonist.
Profile Image for Νίκος Καραμπάτσος.
58 reviews39 followers
July 21, 2020
Ολοκληρωνοντας το βιβλιο αυτο,ολοκληρωνω την πεζογραφια του Ουελμπεκ και θα ΄λεγα πως ειναι ο αγαπημενος μου συγγραφεας.
Η δυνατοτητα ενος νησιου μιλαει για ενα θεμα που απασχολει τον Ουελμπεκ εμμονικα (και πως αλλιως),σχεδον σε καθε εργο του.Το γηρας,οι αναμνησεις μια προτερης ευτυχισμενης ζωης,ο ερωτας και η νοσταλγια του.Ενας πλουσιος δυτικος γελωτοποιος βλεπει τη ζωη του να καταρρεει,εχει θεμελιωσει τη ζωη του σε κιβδηλες αξιες,περιπλανιεται και καταληγει μελος μιας σεκτας ελλοχειμιτων στο νησι Λανθαροτε.
Μεσα απο μια αφηγηση που κινειται στο μεταιχμιο fiction και sci-fi με τους Ντανιελ1/24/25 να προσπαθουν ν'αγγιξουν την αθανασια,ο Ουελμπεκ γραφει ενα ακομα βαθια ανθρωπινο εργο.
Profile Image for A.
397 reviews43 followers
November 9, 2022

This book is essentially a meditation on youth and aging in the modern materialist world. If all that matters is pleasure and pain, then surely abolishing pain is salvation. Man must then live in a divine state, above all bodily woes and able to pursue what he wants. But is this really the case? If all of the tension of life is abolished — the dichotomies of love/hatred, connection/isolation, anticipation/fear, accomplishment/struggle — then what drama does life offer? Life then becomes an eternal nothingness, an eternal feeling of apathetic boredom.

Given that postmodern society values nothing but the material, it automatically devalues age. For as one ages, the easily attainable material pleasures of youth — sex, suppleness, healthfulness, bodily function in general — dissipate as one's body withers. What is then left for the old? Unfulfilled desire. The constant temptation of scantily clad, young women. More technology, more change — the end result being that you are left behind in a long-forgotten world.

There are two solutions to this problem: (1) spiritualize your aims in life and reduce your slavery to animal desire or (2) create technology that makes human life eternal. (2) occurs in this novel, and the results are played out. But even with worldly perfection, with infinity before you and no pain in sight, man looks for challenges. The wilderness is out there and it calls us men. It says: "Explore! Adventure! Go forth and struggle with nature!". Without a tension between the is and the ought, man withers. That creative tension, that striving towards uprightness and nobility, is essential for life. Participant in the struggle and rise upwards!
Profile Image for Leonard.
Author 6 books107 followers
February 10, 2013
The species have reached immortality. Through cloning and the propagation of historical memories. But the time of the humans is over. It is the age of the neo-humans, clones without joy and grief, without neurosis, without community, without sexual desires. Only a lifetime of reviewing and of analyzing the life of the human from which their DNA came. A lifetime of isolation, except for a pet. A lifetime of pseudo-touch through electronic communications. A lifetime of reflection and contemplation.

When the grief, the denial, the struggle to remain virile and attractive dominated the aging man or woman, the life of the neo-human seemed heavenly. And no wonder the creator of these neo-humans chose to eliminate the neurosis associated with aging.

Neo-humans live without joy; and they die without grief. They don’t need food, only minerals and water. A superior race more suitable for survival. Living in a post-apocalyptic world. What does it mean when a few decided to leave their isolation, to end their immortality, to trek across the dried ocean surface, in search of a legendary community?

Would you choose to be human or neo-human?

The Possibility of an Island is a sad, sad depiction of the possibility, or impossibility, of humanity. Without youth and sexual virility, what is man or woman? When our mind and body decline, what do we make of life? Is a lifetime of tranquility more preferable to the fluctuations between joy and grief? What kind of Omega Point are we moving toward?

Profile Image for Jessica.
593 reviews3,364 followers
December 5, 2013
To me, this was surprisingly sentimental, even arguably kind of sweet.

Read all in one day, so I guess I must've liked it? Immediately thought of two (male) friends I want to make read this, but I really wouldn't recommend it to most people so please don't read it on my account unless specifically instructed.
Profile Image for Lady-R.
227 reviews115 followers
December 10, 2018
Leer a Houellebecq siempre me hace gracia por su gusto por la polémica y por meter la llaga en la moralidad de la gente. Este libro no es una excepción, me gustan muchas de las reflexiones que hace sobre los ámbitos ya recurrentes en sus textos y con el añadido de la línea temporal y la evolución del humano hacia el no-humano. Aún así, creo que la historia es innecesaria y excesivamente larga, de ahí que no le ponga el 4.
Profile Image for iva°.
588 reviews91 followers
July 14, 2020
kako houellebecq piše?
piše kao da sve ljudske gadosti i mizerije izbljuje tebi pod noge. piše kao da ne mari što ćeš misliti o njemu. piše tako da licemjerstvo, lažni moral, konzumerizam, diktate modernog doba, tabue i ustaljene/ukiseljene životne norme šamarima izbija iz glave.
ako se nađeš uvrijeđenim i povrijeđenim njegovim tekstom, onda te uboo tamo gdje su ti granice. piše da razbija granice.
kritičar društva, po mom ukusu.
Profile Image for Evgeniya.
121 reviews43 followers
August 18, 2017
Много ми хареса тази "Възможност за остров", поразително! Толкова е интелигентно остроумието тук, толкова приятно-абсурдни са крайностите, размахът на тази в последна сметка лека и забавна спекулация за бъдещето, и все пак книгата е толкова интимна, толкова нежна и накрая - съвсем естествено и необходимо тъжна. Разсъжденията за изкуството, любовта, старостта звучат автентично и честно. Всичко това ми харесва и защото означава, че Уелбе�� пише много уважително към читателите си и само заради това мисля да прочета и останалите му книги.

В тази книга липсваха нещата, които ме подразниха в "Платформата". Всъщност много ме разсмя, че Даниел във "Възможност за остров" нарича своите еротични сънища "сърцераздитарелно нералистични", което, стурва ми се е, е най-точното определение за секс сцените в "Платформата".
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