Submission (novel)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Soumission (2015, English: Submission) is a novel by the French writer Michel Houellebecq. The novel, a political satire, imagines a situation in which a Muslim party upholding traditionalist and patriarchal values is able to win the 2022 presidential election in France with the support of the Socialist Party. In the novel, Robert Rediger, the fictional character who is a convert to Islam and university professor turned politician, describes Islamo-leftism as, "a desperate attempt by moldering, putrefying, brain-dead Marxists to hoist themselves out of the dustbin of history by latching onto the coattails of Islam."


Contents

Plot

In 2022, François, a middle-aged literature professor at Paris III and specialist in Huysmans, feels he is at the end of his sentimental and sexual lives – composed largely of year-long liaisons with his students. It has been years since the last time he created any valuable university work. France is in the grip of political crisis – in order to stave off a National Front victory, the Socialists ally with the newly formed Muslim Brotherhood Party, with additional support of the Union for a Popular Movement, formerly the main right-wing party. They propose the charming and physically imposing Islamic candidate, Mohammed Ben-Abbes, for the presidency against the National Front leader Marine Le Pen. In despair at the emerging political situation, and the inevitability of antisemitism becoming a major force in French politics, François' young and attractive Jewish girlfriend, Myriam, emigrates to Israel. His mother and father die. He fears that he is heading towards suicide, and takes refuge at a monastery situated in the town of Martel, Lot. The monastery is an important symbol of Charles Martel's victory over Islamic forces in 732; it is also where his literary hero, Huysmans, became a lay member.

Ben-Abbes wins the election, and becomes President of France. He pacifies the country, enacts sweeping changes to French laws, privatizing the Sorbonne, and thereby making François redundant with full pension as only Muslims are now allowed to teach there. He also ends gender equality, allowing polygamy. Several of François' intellectually inferior colleagues, having converted to Islam, get good jobs and make arranged marriages with attractive young wives. The new president campaigns to enlarge the European Union to include North Africa, with the aim of making it a new Roman Empire, with France at its lead. In this new, different society, with the support of the powerful politician Robert Rediger, the novel ends with François poised to convert to Islam and the prospect of a second, better life, with a prestigious job, and wives chosen for him.

The novel mixes fiction with real people: besides Le Pen, François Hollande, François Bayrou and Jean-François Copé, among others, fleetingly appear as characters in the book.

Background

On 5 January 2015, French president François Hollande announced in an interview for France Inter radio that "he would read the book, because it’s sparking a debate".

The author appeared in a caricature on the front page of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015, the day when the offices of the newspaper were attacked by masked gunmen who killed eight Charlie Hebdo employees. The title was: "Les prédictions du mage Houellebecq : en 2015, je perds mes dents, en 2022, je fais ramadan." (English: "The predictions of the sorcerer Houellebecq: In 2015, I lose my teeth. In 2022, I observe Ramadan.")

The German translation by Norma Cassau and Bernd Wilczek will be published on 16 January 2015 by DuMont Buchverlag. The book will be released in the United Kingdom in September 2015.

Reception

After the release, the book placed at the top of bestseller list of the French division of the online retailer Amazon.

Houellebecq commented about the novel in an interview with The Paris Review:

… I can’t say that the book is a provocation — if that means saying things I consider fundamentally untrue just to get on people’s nerves. I condense an evolution that is, in my opinion, realistic.

Steven Poole, writing for The Guardian, noted that:

… Soumission is, arguably, not primarily about politics at all. The real target of Houellebecq’s satire – as in his previous novels – is the predictably manipulable venality and lustfulness of the modern metropolitan man, intellectual or otherwise.

According to The Economist magazine:

… a leading French novelist, Emmanuel Carrère, compared “Soumission” to George Orwell’s “1984”.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Submission (novel)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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