Submission - Book Review

Posted On: Friday - December 6th 2019 5:01PM MST
In Topics: 
  Immigration Stupidity  Bible/Religion  Books  World Political Stupidity

... submitted for your perusal (get it? nah?)

We're hoping for a single-post review here for a change, as the novel Submission, by Frenchman Michel Houellebecq, was a quick read, so I've got the ideas together in my head. The book is 250 pages or so, but with fairly big type, a small page size, and nothing technical in it to slow things down. It took me about 6 hours to read the whole thing.

Submission was published in 2015 with a story of the near future political changes in France. This involves the rise of organized Islam as a political party major power in France. Yeah, who could see this coming, right? The story, related by narrater Francois, is set in 2022, only 7 years after the Houellebecq wrote it, which is pretty near-term, I'd say, especially now.

The protagonist narrator is a single man and a Professor of literature at the number 3 university in Paris. The author noted in a quick acknowledgement at the end, that he did not attend college, and therefore relied on one Agathe Lechevalier from the Univ. of Paris X-Nanterre to give him the background on the university professor lifestyle. This is a big part of the book, and I think Miss Lechevalier did a bang-up job filling the author in. It's not a lifestyle to be proud of, and I'm not sure if the author agrees, but he sure describes it that way.

Francois, the professor, lives a simple, easy, and hedonistic lifestyle. His PhD dissertation had been an 800+ page analysis of the writings of late-19th-century French author J.K. Huysmans, and his > decade long academic career revolves around criticizing or appreciating this guy and some other French writers. Honestly, I don't feel like looking up Mr. J.K. Huysmans, but I'll take Mr. Houellebecq's word that he's a real guy and that his many works were good. In the book, protagonist Francois sees this author from over a century back as his friend and life guide. Besides this fine literature, semi-irregular sex with a new one of his students each year, lots of wine and some fine cuisine and TV dinners, the professor doesn't really do much else. I don't know if this comes from the author's experience in life or not, as again, he got the university background from someone else.

This professor, though having a fairly easy time of it in life, is not happy with his hedonistic lifestyle. However, he has no inclination to become religious, even though the writer he practically worships had become so later in life, even writing his later books from this perspective. Though he doesn't like his life, Francois does not see any motivation to change either, such as, say, getting married or starting a family - he gives his reasons, which involve, well, selfishness mostly.

The characterization of the narrator aside, the big picture is that there is major political turmoil in progress as the 4 major parties in the French elections in '22 are shifting in power and alignments. There are the Moslem Bruthahood Party and the National Front, that have support from about 1/4 of the people each, along with the other 2 parties that have been around since the beginning of the French 5th Republic (the latter reminding me of our blue and red squads). Things are starting to get ugly. Yeah, who knew that allowing millions people from former Moslem colonies of France might change the future for the worse? In this book, the author takes sides only against the National Front, with actual politician Marine Le Pen named a number of times. He is not particularly against Islam taking over either, from my reading. Don't expect this book to be aligned with your preference of how the culture of the West should progress, if you are a regular Peak Stupidity reader.

Now, the narrater/protagonist Francois, contrary to author Michel Houellebecq, had no interest in politics until the election turmoil started getting serious. I can see that being the case for a literature professor, maybe, though not most of the people in the university Humanities departments. Francois is only concerned about whether the changes that may (and later do) occur will affect his job. That's all. This selfishness explains a lot in real life too.

After about 1/4 of the book describing Francois and his life as an unhappy literature professor, the politics becomes the subject. Due to the antagonism between the Moslems and the Nationalists (with blame, again, put more on the latter),there was violence all over Paris, most of it purposefully un-reported by the media. (Sound familiar?) The way these European elections go, coalitions have to be formed, and since the 1st round had these 2 parties tied up, trouble ensues.

This is where this novel really loses it for about 50 pages. You get the feeling the a SHTF situation is in progress. The one important hot girlfriend leaves the country for good (obviously Jewish, she heads to Israel - who knew?), the University is closed, and the narrator leaves Paris. He stops at a gas station that has been partially destroyed with the cashier laying dead in a pool of blood. More dead people are in a parking lot somewhere. He see no cars on the road for 100's of kilometers he says. You figure this is going to be like One Second After by William Forstchen (a prepper novel that I read over 5 years back and still want to review here). I wanted to see what Houellebecq's vision of what would happen to France during a Moslem takeover would be.

Nope, Francois just heads right on down the road, finds a hotel that's open, happens upon friends from his university and has some kind of 8 course dinner! This author may be good, but he shouldn't be writing action novels. The middle of Submission was his attempt at an action novel, and it failed miserably. He spent 4 sentences writing technical details about his V-8 4.2-liter VW Touareg with common-rail fuel injection. Otherwise Francois knows NOTHING about NOTHING, technical-wise, but he somehow cares about these details for 4 sentences, then goes back to fine cuisine.

OK, it gets better. After the false-alarm SHTF scenario and some visits to old shrines to try to get some religion, as writer J.K. Huysman's biggest fan, the narrator gets back to Paris. Islam has basically taken over the university system, along with other institutions of society. Francois is given a retirement deal from his post with full pay, just because supposedly the Moslem party, under the wonderful Ben Abbes, and the new Moslem (eventual) head of the university system, Mr. Rediger, are worried about possible trouble (from these literature professors, really?) I don't think so.

As the narrator lives in Paris for a while, still unhappy with his life, even with the helluva deal he's got, he is invited to the very engaging Mr. Rediger's beautiful historic house for a pitch to join back up. That means convert to Islam, of course, not just his joining back with the university. At the house, our narrator meets a 15-year old hottie who turns out to be his host's wife. The host's other wife is a 40 year-old clad in pup-tent Islam get-up who can cook like the dickens. Is there really any need for any sales pitch? Mr. Rediger lets Francois know that he can have up to 4 wives, along with talking about the cosmos and Islam as the most realistic religion. Hell, I was about hooked here. Did I mention the first 2 wives already?

This last part of the book really does deserve another Peak Stupidity post, but it won't be so much a review of the book Submission, as a discussion of women in Islam. In that last section of the novel, I don't know if author Michel Houellebecq agrees with the thoughts of his protagonist or not. Is he just laying out the idea that Islam has great appeal for its ideas on the role of women? That IS a big deal for that religion.

This book was not what I had expected. It's missing the story of how things would go down for most French people, were the Moslems to take power. However, since it's a 5-8 hour read, I will recommend this book as fairly entertaining with that big exception in the middle. The last section, with the narrator's submission to Islam is well worth contemplating, and we will, in that upcoming post! (Though of course you'd want to read the whole book for context.)

PS: When comparing this book to another dystopian-futurist novel by a Frenchman, The Camp of the Saints, by Jean Raspail, I find it's no contest. Mr. Raspail's book was prescient about a time almost 4 decades later, while Mr. Houellebecq doesn't describe accurately what will go down 7 years after his writing.

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