Journal Article

Classical Secularisation Theory in Contemporary Literature—The Curious Case of Michel Houellebecq

Louis Betty

in Literature and Theology

Volume 27, issue 1, pages 98-115
Published in print March 2013 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frs017
Classical Secularisation Theory in Contemporary Literature—The Curious Case of Michel Houellebecq

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The writing of novelist Michel Houellebecq has drawn much scholarly attention, but no writer, scholarly or otherwise, has yet tackled the subject this article proposes to address: Houellebecq’s depiction of religion in Europe at the turn of the 21st century. We first argue that the author’s depiction of European religiosity, which paints contemporary European culture as having ceded in virtual entirety to atheism, should be read as a fictional rendering of classical secularisation theory, which predicted the waning of religion with the onset of modernity. We then address the question of emerging forms of ‘the sacred’ in Houellebecq’s fiction and suggest ways to situate his work in broader discourses about atheism and the future of religion.

Journal Article.  7767 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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