The Map and the Territory

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This book has the same malaise, the same ennui as Houellebecq's earlier books. He just left out the sex this time. Instead, there was a gruesome murder. Which I was okay with. Especially because we learn photographs of the crime scene look like monochromatic Jackson Pollock paintings. But there was also a scene where Jed beats up a woman working in a Swiss Euthanasia clinic.

The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq |

Which really bothered me. View all 14 comments. Aug 04, S. Frankly I read this because my year old did, and considering the negative buzz surrounding Houellebecq I was wondering if she was polluting her beautiful young mind with misogynist pornography. So it is with surprise that I bestow 5 stars upon it. A wonderful book - rich, true and wickedly funny. This was a very satisfying read on many levels, from the narrative style to the prose, from the originality to the humor and insight.

The main character is a painter named Jed Martin who is first launched to fame by a series he does using Michelin maps. On a trip with his father, they stop at a rest stop, where he buys a map.

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This map was sublime. Overcome, he began to tremble in front of the food display. The essence of modernity, of scientific and technical apprehension of the world, was here combined with the essence of animal life. The drawing was complex and beautiful, absolutely clear, using only a small palette of colours. But in each of the hamlets and villages, represented according to their importance, you felt the thrill, the appeal, of human lives, of dozens and hundreds of souls Contemplating and rendering the world is more interesting than being involved in it.

I enjoyed the storyline with the father, the reflections on France and society, on death, on relationships.

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Houellebecq bringing himself in as a character was a master stroke and revealing. I adored the rant about Picasso. The way he did himself in was marvelous. To me it was a subdued joyride of a book, not in that it was uplifting, but because the author tugged the rip cord and let it rip.

View all 7 comments. View all 3 comments. No surprise why masterful American novelists would want to read this. The author, Michel Houellebecq, is unabashedly and unashamedly literary and intellectual. No doubt there's a certain penis envy in admiring a Gallic author who can be so brazen as to simply drop trou and masturbate with his mind for us all to watch.

Those of us on this side of the pond who fret about novels and commercialism and fads and attention spans and the general lack of receptiveness for ideas must surely Jones for the opportunity to wax philosophical and not only get away with it, but also actually sell books. This is the story of a fine artist, Jed Martin, and the rationale behind various distinct phases of his work. It is also a policier, a procedural, about a ghastly murder. One connection is that the murder was performed in such a way as to create a work of art.

This second story has very little to do with the main plot line of Jed's work life. Jed's difficult relationship with his aging master-architect father is a subplot upon which many heady sub-themes are hung, including the history and philosophy of architecture, the relationship between habitation and quality of life, and no less than the fate of civilization.

In perhaps the most stunning stroke of hubris in a work chockful of it, occurring some way into the narrative so it's a surprise when it comes, Houellebecq makes himself a principal character.

La carte et le territoire

The relationship between life and art is open to question - that is, between the physical description of the French novelist, his eccentricities, and his volatile temperament. The Houellebecq in the narrative is not what you'd call a nice person and certainly not someone you'd probably consider taking on as a friend. The author seems proud he's alienating you, else why talk so unashamedly of his body odor and atrocious manners?

Martin's life is well-to-do Parisian, but mundane. He has an extended affair, off and on, with a Russian media executive named Olga. She is one hot babe, apparently, but even she can't hold his interest. She did abandon him for a time, and perhaps an infantile ego can never forgive the ultimate insult of abandonment. I may reread it someday to study what I missed on first reading, which is probably a lot. This is the first Houellebecq novel I've read, so I am curious to investigate the others.

I read in other reviews this isn't the one to start with. Houellebecq would no doubt approve. I do know that, based on his descriptions, I would love to visit a showing of Martin's paintings. I expect they would be photorealistic and iconic - reminiscent, say, of Chinese Communist propaganda posters. One of the delights of the book is imagining what these fictional works would look like. If they have an analog in the real world, I'd love to know it. No discuto las dos primeras afirmaciones. Cierto, muchas veces lo odio, pero no deja de ser un odio lleno de ternura.

Y estas cosas marcan. Especialmente cuando eres joven. Por otra parte, los personajes de carne y hueso me han importado un comino. Volvamos a la caldera. Pues porque es algo con lo que puedo identificarme. El resto de la novela cae tan lejos de mi experiencia y mis intereses que no me importa un pimiento.

Pero tampoco es esto: Es como si Houellebecq escribiera con desgana. Michel Houellebecq is the subversive satirist supreme. The diffident misanthrope who takes humanity to task for our natures, our systems, our ridiculous aspirations and our delusions. But he does so with light touch. He doesn't have to beat us around the head with our own foolish failings. Jed Martin is an artist of some repute. The one layer he misses on his palette is an ability with words, so he seeks after commissioning one Michel Houellebecq to write the programme notes for his upcoming exhi Michel Houellebecq is the subversive satirist supreme.

The one layer he misses on his palette is an ability with words, so he seeks after commissioning one Michel Houellebecq to write the programme notes for his upcoming exhibition and my how this novel blows Patrick Gayle's lame novel of that name out of the water. As part of the deal, Martin offers to paint a portrait of the author.

Alan Greenspan: The Map and the Territory

Both men are non-social beings. The Houellebecq portrayed in the novel has few redeeming features and is always tagged with some aspect of his bibliography, brand Houellebecq. So artist commissions writer, only the novel of course embodies an author writing about the fictional artist. In a few simple words, Houellebecq not only lances the pomposity of the art world, but conjures up marvellous canvases simply through his words: Satire delivered by steely rapier wit rather than floppy palette brush. Without our literary words constructing a title, such paintings would carry no weight.

Arriving at Shannon Airport, Martin passes a gallery of photographed visiting Popes and US Presidents, yet is only struck by an oil painting of the first celebrity visitor JFK and gives the portrait due study. This from an artist who initially made his name through photographic art works. Houellebecq is either satirising or protesting the death of the old, traditional France within this novel it's hard to prise his intent, seeing as he himself resides in exile in Ireland, having spurned France, or surrendered to being spurned by his native country, though this novel won the Prix Goncourt.

Martin's photos were of Michelin maps of the French rural heartlands. Not the scenery, not the landscapes, nor the people living there, just the topographic maps, an ironic juxtaposition. The map evidently is the territory after all.

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Added to that a meditation on Michelin's guides having necessarily to change and adapt, from appealing to the French who can no longer afford to holiday in their own country and the Anglo-Saxons who tour further afield and now have to resonate with the tastes of Chinese and Russian tourists. The restaurants experiment with exotic fusion menus, only to discover the Chinese hanker for locally sourced pork sausages and France must contemplate returning to its bucolic traditions and away from multi-cultural influences. Just as the artistic Academies would look askance at the dominance of conceptual art of the likes of Koons and Hirst, so French cookery is under assault; lunch now being a rushed workplace half-hour, without the savouring of wine and fine gustation.

Other Academie Francaise cultural touchstones are under threat from foreigners and globalisation in this novel. Not least the imposition of a smoking ban in line with the EU stipulation. Martin further chronicles this slow decay as he switches from photography to oil painting. His painting series is about the dignity of white collar labour. Such labour itself fast being stripped of any useful productive value.

The irony strikes him that the captains of industry he paints, are those most rich and best capable of paying the large sums for his paintings. Martin is an artist with a good eye, but no ostensible love of what he does. He is unfazed during unproductive periods. He remains untroubled by doctrinal issues in art, or moral issues. He is even fairly detached from the money his job has rolling in. He is critiquing capitalism, which is why the fictional and real Houellebecq empathise with his work, yet he is happiest walking around the familiar aisles in a chain supermarket.

In part 3 of the novel a terrible crime takes place and here Houellebecq offers up a pretty stylish police procedural genre part work. Some may feel the energy built up in the novel percolates away at this point, but I didn't see it as a problem. I rather enjoyed his take on a tired old genre, very French it was too since it puts one in mind of all those French detective movies that they no longer seem to make another Academie loss in the face of globalisation of culture?

In this novel, for example, we are invited, in studiedly detached prose, to contemplate Jed's career, from its earliest beginnings — a youthful project to systematically photograph the world's manufactured objects, from suspension files to handguns to forks — through a period in which he manipulates Michelin maps to the painting phase in which he first encounters Houellebecq. Throughout these apparently discrete passages, Jed's overriding concern is "to give an objective description of the world"; discussions about the extent to which this is possible form the basis of his association with the writer.

The Map and the Territory

Novelists who place themselves in their work rarely come out of the endeavour unscathed; the tricksiness of the device is usually either immediately deadening or insufficiently imagined. But in The Map and the Territory , Houellebecq — repeatedly introduced as "the author of Atomised " — is a terrific fictional character. An amalgam of the information and hearsay that we have about him "It was public knowledge that Houellebecq was a loner with strong misanthropic tendencies" and a vehicle for fragmentary and provocative pronouncements about literature "I think I've more or less finished with the world as narration — the world of novels and films, the world of music as well.

I'm now only interested in the world as juxtaposition — that of poetry and painting" , his existence has the reader dancing around the blurry lines between facts and fiction. And he is also fantastically comic: Jed, meanwhile, is also experiencing difficulties: The Conversation at Palo Alto — have made him both wildly rich and enormously acclaimed, but he has a propensity for suddenly abandoning successful work.

In a televised interview given after the Goncourt award, Houellebecq declared that the main themes of the novel were "aging, the relationship between father and son and the representation of reality through art". The novel incorporates a few abstracts from the French edition of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia without mentioning the source, thus not complying with the Creative Commons licence BY-SA. Houellebecq had already been a contender for the Goncourt on two previous occasions. It was the first time since that the award had gone to a novel published by Flammarion.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Map and the Territory English hardcover edition. Retrieved 24 September Works by Michel Houellebecq.

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