In the Presence of Schopenhauer
The work of Michel Houellebecq – one of the most widely read and controversial novelists of our time – is marked by the thought of Schopenhauer. When Houellebecq came across a copy of Schopenhauer's Aphorisms in a library in his mid-twenties, he was bowled over by it and he hunted down a copy of his major philosophical work, The World as Will and Representation. Houellebecq found in Schopenhauer – the radical pessimist, the chronicler of human suffering, the lonely misanthrope – a powerful conception of the human condition and of the future that awaits us, and when Houellebecq’s first writings appeared in the early 1990s, the influence of Schopenhauer was everywhere apparent.
But it was only much later, in 2005, that Houellebecq began to translate and write a commentary on Schopenhauer’s work. He thought of turning it into a book but soon abandoned the idea and the text remained unpublished until 2017. Now available in English for the first time, In the Presence of Schopenhauer is the story of a remarkable encounter between a novelist and a philosopher and a testimony to the deep and enduring impact of Schopenhauer’s philosophy on one of France’s greatest living writers.