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Robbe-Grillet, Alain

(French, 1922– )

Brittany-born Robbe-Grillet worked as an agronomist before the publication of his first novel, Les Gommes (The Erasers) in 1953. With this and his next three books he helped to define the fledgling nouveau roman, a new form which sought to dispense entirely with all literary convention, with figurative language, with the traditional omniscient narrator and the unrealistic ‘order’ which such a construct had implied. Start with his brilliant fourth novel, La Jalousie (1957; Jealousy, 1959), probably the best example of this form. Through Jalousie's narrator we watch the seduction of a woman, A., by her neighbour, Franck. But the role of our narrator is ambiguous throughout, and part of the reader's task is precisely to try to understand what that role is. Next try another early novel, Le Voyeur (1955; The Voyeur, 1958), in which Mathias, a travelling watch-salesman, is led to murder a young girl. The ‘voyeur’ of the title refers to a young boy who has witnessed the event (and of course to the reader too), but it is also the watch-salesman himself, whose inability to control his own actions brings about this terrible crime.

Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett, Georges Perec  DHa

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Pa-Sc)