Richard Millet, a pre-eminent French author, scholar and social commentator, has sparked controversy by writing that Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer, "is exactly what Norway deserves."
In a newly published essay titled "Éloge Littéraire d'Anders Breivik," Millet explains that he does not approve of Breivik's murderous acts, which resulted in the deaths of 77 people last year. Millett is, however, "struck by their 'formal perfection' and 'literary dimension," according to the essay.
Breivik is "as much a child of a broken family as of an ideological and racial fracture caused by immigration from outside Europe over the last 20 years," Millet added.
On July 22, 2011, Breivik set off bombs in the capital city of Oslo, killing eight people. He then traveled to a summer camp in nearby Utoya island sponsored by the left-leaning Labor Party. There, he shot and killed 69 people, most of them teenagers.
Last week, Breivik was sentenced to 21 years behind bars. He is likely to have his sentence extended, and will probably spend the rest of his life in jail.
Millet is now being accused of furthering Breivik's militant, far-right agenda, which includes religious intolerance. The Parisian author draws on Christian themes in his own work -- many of his novels dwell heavily on the influence of Catholicism on French society.
Millet wrote in his essay that Breivik's violence is an example of "what awaits our societies that won't stop blinding themselves in denial."
He added that "European nations are dissolving socially at the same time as they're losing their Christian essence in favor of general relativism."
In addition, Millet characterized Breivik's victims as "victims as ""mixed-raced, globalized, uncultivated, social-democrat petit bourgeois."
The essay was published on August 24, the same day as Breivik's conviction. Days later, Millet doesn't seem inclined to back down from his position, even -- or especially -- in the face of mounting criticism.
"I'm one of the most hated French authors," he said to France Info on Monday, according to Time Magazine. "It's an interesting position that makes me an exceptional being."