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Whatever Paperback – Jun 28 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; Reprint edition (June 28 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687845
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687846
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 118 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Friday evening I was invited to a party at a colleague from work's house. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MR G. Rodgers on March 24 2003
Format: Paperback
"L'Extension du Domaine de la Lutte" or, as it is known in English translation, "Whatever", is a strange novel dealing with the increasing alienation of its anti-hero. This person, bored and demotivated by his work and the state of his private life, becomes increasingly detached from and contemptuous of his fellow human beings. Society in general seems less increasingly absurd to him, yet much more burdensome and irritating - the individual's way of life is becoming much less "individual", defined and shaped by as it is by forces which both expect and demand types of behaviour.
Houellebecq tries to examine the nature of the individual in contemporary society and points to the paradox that increased ease of communication through technological advances has not resulted in closer relationships between people, rather the reverse. Fulfilment and happiness are not an automatic by-product of the computer age. Furthermore, economic liberalism and sexual liberalism have marched hand in hand, but both produce winners and losers (and not necessarily the same groups in each case).
I thought that "L'Extension du Domaine de la Lutte" was a challenging novel, unsettling at times even though there are some lighter touches (such as the perils of buying a single bed when you're single). The anti-hero is an unsympathetic figure, intentionally so, and his acerbic views can exasperate, but the novel does make you think about the nature of "progress" and how the modern world might be reshaping the lives of individuals.
G Rodgers
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By Luc REYNAERT on Feb. 6 2004
Format: Paperback
The main character in this book shouts a cynical diatribe against sexual and economical liberalism, wherein men and women are painted as disgusting, decrepit adolescents. They are only searching for more sex, power and influence in the marketplace or taking the necessary measures to assure their dominating position therein. The main targets of his insults are psychiatrists, dentists, bureaucrats and modern women.
This book is not without some severe contradictions; e.g. while insulting psychiatrists, the main character seeks himself psychological counselling(!); while treating women contemptuously, he looks for real love.
The French title 'Extension du domaine de la lutte' suggests that the author intends to portrait a rebel in our modern capitalist society, where life is transformed into a rat race. But the 'rebel' longs for a peaceful retreat into the countryside!
More, the author doesn't propose an alternative solution for our society, nor gives he hints that human behaviour will be different in an otherwise organized world.
This book reads like a train. It gives us a real good portrait of the actual working conditions of middle management in a big modern company.
Even with its controdictions, this work is a worth-while read.
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By K. Cascone on June 11 2003
Format: Paperback
some of the English in here reads like the publisher fed the French version into an online translator like Babelfish...this really ruined an otherwise brilliant book for me...
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By GLBT on Dec 19 2002
Format: Paperback
Having just completed Houellebecq's "Whatever" I'm a bit uncertain what to make of it. To read the blurbs and quotes on the back-cover, one might expect something a bit more comical than what this actually is. The tone of this book, however, is dark, dark, dark...
Houellebecq's narrator/central character is an unhappy man who feels contempt for women, love, society, technology, his job, himself, etc. He has an acerbic wit that, at times, is amusing, but it's a bitter sort of humor. There's nothing light-hearted about it.
As the book progresses, the main character becomes increasingly alienated and miserable, ultimately scheming to convert his co-worker (a loveless, ugly man) to murder. The plan fails, but things continue to get darker and darker until the main character finally enters a mental hospital.
There is a bitter contempt for life/love/humanity that runs through this book and, while it is cleverly written at times, it's not really all that enjoyable experience and I'm not sure what the book really has to say other than "Life sucks." Frankly, I think the same sorts of themes are handled far more eloquently and with far greater insight by Camus' "The Stranger."
Houellebecq is a talented writer but this book just didn't do much for me overall.
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Format: Paperback
Reminiscent of Miller (Henry) and "the Catcher in the Rye" a bit. Not a timeless book by any means but a very decent period piece. Like Emerson (?) said, every generation must rewrite same books after their own fashion -- and that's just it, a cleverly and imaginatively done relevant, honest, and philosophical tale of "fear and loathing" for our times, a bit like the "Fight Club" only by an order of magnitude more intelligent and subtle. I've read it in one sitting: it's small and strangely bewitching, though like I've said, not perfect, or, to be precise, it's uneven.
I see other reviewers complaining about the translation, well, I thought the English version was OK, though I haven't compared specifically. Except perhaps the title, which perfectly translates into English as "Extension of the Domain of Struggle"--which linkes up with something in the text--but became "Whatever" (which doesn't, and is meaningless). Anyway, who cares about the title.
I also got another Houellebecq book (Elementary Particles), in English too, read just a bit so far, and it's not bad either. Now, here (it's a different translator though) the translation does seem a bit lacking, sort of choppy, awkward, so that tells you why you need to read stuff in the original. Meaning if you can read French, go for the original, don't be lazy, it's worth the effort in this case. Houellebecq's latest book, Plateforme, seems untranslated yet ... so here's a good justification to try the real thing if you can--if you put them side by side you'll see that a translation is always off, even if only in the overall feel... if it's close, it's awkward English, if it's more graceful, then it's not true to the source. Anyway, I'm deviating; what I wanted to say was that "Whatever" is an uncommonly honest and psychological book from a relatively unknown author and is well worth reading: thus my very strict evaluation is go get it.
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