In the final chapters of his award-winning and highly controversial novel, Atomized, French author, Michel Houellebecq describes the experience of one of his leading characters, a scientist called Michel Djerzinski, who has come to the west of Ireland to work on a complex project related to the science of human cloning. 

"He rented an apartment on Sky Road in Clifden, in an old coastguard’s house which had been converted into tourist apartments.  The rooms were decorated with wheels and storm lamps, anything they thought might please the tourists; they didn’t bother him….

Winter SunsetBy mid-October the Clifden peninsula was completely covered by a thick blanket of fog rolling in from the Atlantic. The last of the tourists had gone.  It was not cold but everything was bathed in a deep, soft grey….               

                Around 20 November the sky cleared and the weather became cold but dry.  He began to take long walks along the coast road. He would walk past Gortrumnagh and Knockavally, usually on to Claddaghduff and sometimes as far as Aughrus Point.  This was the westernmost point of Europe, the very edge of the Western world.  Before him, the Atlantic Ocean stretched out four thousand kilometers to America….

                According to the testimony of those few people who visited Dzerzinski in Ireland, during those final weeks, he seemed to have come to have made his peace. His anxious, faltering expression seemed to have been stilled. He often took long, dreamy walks along Sky Road with only the sky itself as witness.  Clifden BayThe road west snaked across the hills, some gentle, others steep. The ocean glittered refracting a shifting light onto the rocky islands beyond the headland. Dropping over the horizon the mass of cloud seemed luminous and confused, its presence strangely physical.  He walked effortlessly for a long time, his face bathed by the delicate mist.  His work, he knew, was done.  In the room he had converted into a study, its window open onto Errislannan Point, he had put his notes in order…

                Many witnesses attest to his fascination with this distant edge of the Western world, constantly bathed in a soft, shining light, where he had come so often, where, as he wrote in one of his last notes 'the sky, the sea, the light converge….' "

 

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