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Appears in Collections:Literature and Languages Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Zombie Catholicism Meets Zombie Islam: Reading Michel Houellebecq's Soumission with Emmanuel Todd
Author(s): McQueen, Fraser
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Keywords: Linguistics and Language
Literature and Literary Theory
Issue Date: Apr-2020
Citation: McQueen F (2020) Zombie Catholicism Meets Zombie Islam: Reading Michel Houellebecq's Soumission with Emmanuel Todd. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 56 (2), pp. 155-176.
Abstract: Following the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s novel Soumission (2015), which depicts the French public electing an Islamist government in 2022, some critics accused Houellebecq of Islamophobia; others defended his novel as primarily an attack on the French intellectual class rather than Islam or Muslims. Reading Houellebecq’s novel alongside the work of French historian and anthropologist Emmanuel Todd, this article suggests that Soumission attacks all three. Furthermore, Houellebecq’s depiction of France being ‘Islamized’ does not represent a break from his earlier insistence that religion is becoming obsolete; the Islam of Soumission is devoid of the positive values that Houellebecq associates with religion elsewhere. In the novel, religion has died, as Houllebecq previously claimed it would, with Islam portrayed as a political system compatible with contemporary materialism. The apparent nostalgia for Catholicism in Soumission and elsewhere in Houellebecq’s oeuvre does not express Houellebecq’s desire to convert to Catholicism but his wish for a strong Catholic church to provide an opponent for French anti-clericalism; he portrays Islam as an unsatisfactory alternative.
DOI Link: 10.1093/fmls/cqaa002
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Forum for Modern Language Studies following peer review. The version of record Fraser McQueen, Zombie Catholicism Meets Zombie Islam: Reading Michel Houellebecq's Soumission with Emmanuel Todd, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Volume 56, Issue 2, April 2020, Pages 155–176 is available online at:

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