Empty Days

Thursday, June 24, 2004



Houellebecq and commercially-driven publishing.

Will Houellebecq remain in posterity and will he be crowned as a major writer of this period of french literature? I have not the slightest idea. And I really don't see why this should be so important. Why - do we need to claim that Houellebecq is as good as Dostoevsky? Must we put him on par with Celine? Should we have known that Van Gogh was going to become the greatest painter of his time - instead of missing on something "so obvious" (never thinking that in Van Gogh's time the proper conditions for such evalutions have not been established yet - the meaning was absent, quite simply).

So what is it - envy, jalousy, dislike, distaste, hate, boredom, indifference? No, not indifference. For some reason, I am not finding much indifference. There are tremendous amounts of vaguely presentable trash that are published every year in that blasted country of France and they get beside themselves over things like Christine Angot - who is not a writer by any stretch of imagination. But at this time everything is pushed as "literature", so people finally get confused and start resorting to desperate means - like going back to well-approved authors, clinging to consecrated authority, dismissing everything that is not sufficiently reminiscent of the established classics.

And Houellebecq who gayly messes with the media and doesn't hesitate to self-promote must necessary appear like yet another faux-autheur of the commercially driven world of french publishing.

I can't really appreciate the extent of either this fear or the confusion out there, simply because I am too far removed from that world and that trash - but I can understand how a guy like Houellebecq might generate such hate and distaste, under the existing hyped conditions, that is. People are tense. Too much is being made of Houellebecq - the man is making too much money. It can't be good... and so on.

But who screwed up french literary scene so bad it can't find its bearings?
Who? - cash, green paper, that's who.
Regrettably, that process is now irreversible.





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