The Prophetic Pessimism of Michel Houellebecq

The writing and worldview of the famous French writer Michel Houellebecq is the topic of Theodore Dalrymple’s latest essay in Quadrant.

Houellebecq is a chronicler of the exacerbated individualism (without individuality) that technocratic materialism results in when untempered by belief in the transcendent. But one of the reasons that he is able to chronicle it so well, so incomparably better than anyone else known to me, is that he partakes of it himself. His mode of dress—carefully chosen to look grubby, despite what by now must be great wealth—is in itself a message of exacerbated individualism: “I am not going to make an effort to make myself look agreeable just for you.”

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