Le Terroir, l'Histoire, et la Vierge Noire: ce qui ne passe pas (encore) dans Soumission de Michel Houellebecq

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In Michel Houellebecq's controversial novel Soumission, France becomes an Islamic Republic. The narrator, François, a literature professor who lives in Paris, seeks refuge in southwestern France to escape from the civil war following the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate in the Presidential elections. François acknowledges in the beginning of the novel his lack of interest in either history or politics, but ends up in a medieval village named after the Frankish prince who stopped the advance of the Muslim armies from Spain in 732 C.E. There, François meets by chance one of his colleagues from the University of Paris, similarly exiled in provincial France, who cooks a delicious regional meal, from lamb shank to duck confit, for him. The narrator then goes to Rocamadour, one of the architectural jewels of medieval Christendom, and falls under the spell of a statue of the Black Madonna. His attraction to medieval Christianity and Périgord's haute cuisine is not enough, however, to convince him that France can be saved from the decadence induced by modernity. Having returned to Paris, François considers converting to Islam in order to resume his teaching position at the Sorbonne and be given three wives by the Muslim authorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalContemporary French and Francophone Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 27 2017


  • Christendom
  • France
  • Islam
  • Périgord
  • medieval
  • modernity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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