Of Lost Kingdoms and Strange Moments: Subjective Utopianism in Michel Houellebecq’s Les Particules élémentaires

2019-05-20T01:51:29Z (GMT) by Françoise Campbell
The novels of contemporary French author Michel Houellebecq are notorious for their critique of late capitalist society, offering a vitriolic portrayal of humanity that at times borders on the pornographic, the racist and the nihilistic. However, beyond the depiction of Western decline, one of the driving themes of Houellebecq’s writing is the question of how to imagine a way out of our current bind. This paper investigates the subjectivity of utopian desire in Houellebecq’s 1998 novel Les Particules élémentaires. Focusing on the representation of a futuristic neo-human species in the prologue and the epilogue of the novel, it examines how Houellebecq’s writing uses the portrayal of scientific progress to highlight the ethical dilemmas of our social world and, moreover, of our own utopian imagination.