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The Elementary Particles Paperback – Nov 13 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New title edition (Nov. 13 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375727019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727016
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.2 x 1.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #138,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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The first of July 1998 fell on a Wednesday, so although it was a little unusual, Djerzinski organized his farewell party for Tuesday evening. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
Well, not unequivocally fine. At first I wanted to launch this book across the room, like Camus chucked de Beaviour's "Second Sex," and dismiss it as rubbish. Then I wanted to proclaim it as a masterpiece, then chuck it, then laud it again. Like virtual particles adhering to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, so too were my emotions after absorbing this unbelievably sad existential tale. Borrowing heavily (probably a bit too heavily) from Camus, and totally ignoring the fact that two intellectual movements (structuralism and post-structuralism (maybe three:post-post-structuralism?)) have passed since existentialism gripped our world, Houllebecq writes eloquently about the individual's isolation, about mankind's miserable and perverted existence. Written with all the mysanthropy of a Gulliver tale, the author sees no escape for the individual except through death, no escape for mankind except extinction at the hands of an all female, genetically-enhanced, immortal, asexual, superspecies. As I said, he starts out basically replicating Camus's dismal take on mankind--the only difference being Houellebecq's baffling hang-up with basic sexuality. But I suppose that's the point. He's saying that in this day and age, after the sexual revolution, and the excessive permissiveness of the previous decades, sex is now no more than perversion for the sake of being perverse. Unlike the other reviewers who were offended by his supposed "right-wing attack on the left", I found it refreshing that he was rejecting "moral relativism" which personally I believe to be a negative force in society. His conclusion, though depressing and troubling, is logical.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Othon Leon on Dec 10 2007
Format: Hardcover
Monsieur Houllebecq clearly understands things that most people refuses to even see; the incredible way in which he describes today's life in Europe (and most parts of Western developed societies) trapped my intellect and transported me into France, the US and the UK with mixed feelings of "no way out", "fascination", "pleasure", "pain", etc... The way he "conects" characters with exact and social sciences is superb. Treatment of death as the ultimate result no matter what, perfect. His idea of loneliness as a consequence of superficiality, shocking. Definitely, a mirror in which not always you want to take a look; a great book from a very intelligent author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 22 2000
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the reviewer who said that reading this book was sort of like taking a particularly bitter pill. I sacrificed any chances of a good mood for the week I spent reading this book. I was haunted by the images of physical decay, moral corruption, and sexual perversity that Houellebecq so starkly portrays. The more I read, the clearer it became to me that most writers publishing in America don't dare to tackle big ideas. However flawed The Elementary Particles might be, the fact that Houellebecq confronts not only scientific progress and philosophical schools of thought, but also death, sickness, gender and sex in the most universal sense, shows such courage and vision that I can't help thinking this novel is genius. The glimmer of hope offered by the cryptic last pages ("the future is feminine") actually does lift away some of the bleakness, without taking away from the overall seriousness. Houellebecq also has a grim sense of humor that I enjoyed. I'm not surprised this hasn't received more attention in the U.S. I wish that weren't true. Maybe then American writers (or more precisely, American publishers) might find the courage to compete with this guy. The bar has been raised.
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Format: Paperback
Houellebecq approaches our malaise from the standpoints of philosophy, biology, physics, cultural critique, personal history and sexual pathology. No one could doubt that he is an expert in all these areas. Through his craft, he gives us a synthesis of these fields which states ideas that seem new, often right--and sometimes even exhilarating. At the same time, Houellebecq delves into the darkest aspects of obsession, insanity, rape, sadomasochism, pedophilia, and religious and racial intolerance. I feel that some of his dramatizations of these themes are gratuitous. But on the whole, I was OK with trading a distasteful scene or two for pages and pages of great insights. The Epilogue is brilliant and provides an extremely elegant justification for the strange way the book is narrated. This is a book which rewards the intellectually curious.
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Format: Paperback
Consider classical french prose, from Corneille, Proust, Camus, Sartre, Racine...consider then clasical political thought of French, from Rousseau to Derrida and Lacan... and you'll began to immerse yourself into a world that Houellbecq presents his deconstruction.
Humankind is disorted, humankind is dark and majestic, humankind doesen't have the natural right nor does it have its elementary justice for mere sake of being humane.... huminkind is filth, or so would you read between lines in this book... the saddest thing of all is, that those thought are true...
This is indeed a wonderfull book, one that can stand for modernism (ot as some would call it post-modernism), this book deconstructs every cultural thought, playing with stupidity and obscenity, creating paradoxes, and forcing you to believe that only they can be true...
You'll have a giant hole in your education if you skip this one...marvelous
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