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The Art of Struggle Paperback – September 1, 2012
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About the Author
Michel Houellebecq is a novelist and poet whose books include The Elementary Particles, for which he won the Prix Novembre; Platform; The Possibility of an Island; and Whatever. In 1998, he received the prestigious Grand Prix National des Lettres Jeunes. Delphine Grass is a poet. Timothy Mathews is Professor of French and Comparative Criticism and has translated contemporary French verse and prose poetry into English.
Top customer reviews
I "like"/appreciate this work very much, in the same way I like/appreciate Paul Celan's "depressive" poems about Nazi concentration camps. In the same way that listening to Tracy Nelson's a capella version of "Down So Low," will make you feel depressed but somehow glad you listened to it, reading these Houellebecq poems will make you feel depressed, but glad you read them. There's no way around that. But that is a part of life. He focuses on the reality of our world, our rituals, our interactions, without gussying it up with any false hope. These works focus on the alone-ness of life, on people who are marginalized, and on the need to make and define our own existence. For this reason, while the works might accurately be called depressive and realist, I think the overall category that applies is: existentialist.
These poems are not philosophical treatises, however; they are poems after all. (Most of them--there are some short narrative passages.) I find the poems piercing in their penetrating to the essence of things. As an example, one haunting image in an untitled poem gives a bit of this flavor:
She typed up the mail and I liked her face
For she tried so hard to get it right
She was thirty-five or maybe fifty,
With death on the way she was lost in her time.
I think you have to come to grips with the blunt, realist, depressive aspects of life before you can truly appreciate the joy, the unexpected surprises, and the beauty of love. This volume definitely does that, in haunting passages, but don't expect an American style redeeming optimism at the end.