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Robbe Grillet

Robbe Grillet

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Published by Medway08
French author of New Novel movement. Wrote screenplay of last year at Marienbad.
French author of New Novel movement. Wrote screenplay of last year at Marienbad.

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Published by: Medway08 on Jan 21, 2008
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11/17/2012

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Robbe-Grillet's first novel,
 A Regicide
, was written in the early 1950s but only publishedin 1978. His first published novel was
The Erasers
, in 1953. It resembles a detectivenovel, but contains within it a deeper structure based on the story of  Oedipus. The detective is seeking the assassin in a murder that has not yet occurred, only to discover that it is his destiny to become that assassin.His next and most acclaimed novel is
The Voyeur 
, first published in French in 1955 andtranslated into English in 1958 byRichard Howard. Robbe-Grillet relates the story of Matthias, a travelling watch salesman who returns to the island of his youth with adesperate objective. As with many of his novels,
The Voyeur 
revolves around the dubiousdetails of a murder: throughout the novel, Matthias unfolds a newspaper clipping aboutthe details of a young girl's murder and the discovery of her body among the seasiderocks. Matthias' relationship with the dead girl is obliquely revealed in the course of his psychological disintegration, which is rendered with objective precision in the style for which Robbe-Grillet is most famous. The narration contains little dialogue, no descriptionof characters' interior thoughts or emotions, and an ambiguous timeline of events. Indeed,the novel's opening line is indicative of the novel's tenor: "It was as if no one had heard."
The Voyeur 
was awarded thePrix des Critiques. Next, he wrote
 Jealousy
, set on a banana plantation. Written in the first person and innon-linear sequence, it tells the story of a husband's suspicion that his wife (referred toonly as "A...") is having an affair with his neighbour, Franck. Although the narrationcomes from his perspective alone, the husband never uses first-person pronouns. Herecounts events in which he is present as though he were not; his presence there is merelyinferred, e.g. by the number of place settings at the dinner table or deck chairs on theverandah. He also describes images that can be read as either fantasy or reality, especiallyin regard to the affair and to the lovers' deaths. The French title
 La Jalousie
means both"jealousy" and "window blind", or "shutter", and it is with the husband's eyes, through the
 jalousie
, that we see the wife's lover.Robbe-Grillet has also written screenplays, notably for Alain Resnais' 1961 film
,a critical success considered to be one of the finest French films of the 1960s. It was followed by a number of films directed by Robbe-Grillet himself:
(1966), his two French-Slovak films
 L'homme qui ment/Muž, ktorýluže
(The Man Who Lies) (1968),
 L'Eden et après/Eden a potom
(Eden and After) (1970),
Glissements progressifs du plaisir 
(The Slow Slidings of Pleasure) (1974),
 Le jeu avec le feu
(Playing with Fire) (1975),
 La belle captive
(The Beautiful Captive) (1986) and manyothers. [Wikipedia]http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/grillet.htmHis statement of how he thought novels should be written was published in POUR UN NOUVEAU ROMAN (1963). "If in many of the passages that follow, I readily employthe term New Novel, it is not to designate a school, nor even a specific and constitutedgroup of writers working in the same direction; the expression is merely a convenientlabel applicable to all those seeking new forms for the novel, form capable of expressing
 
(or of creating) new relations between man and the world, to all those who havedetermined to invent the novel, in other words, to invent man."Robbe-Grillet argued that the writer should content himself with the impersonaldescription of physical objects. Psychological or ideological analysis should be excluded- the reader must guess what hides under details and events. Despite its focus on objectivereality cleansed of human feeling, Robbe-Grillet insisted, the nouveau roman is entirelysubjective - its world is always perceived through the eyes of a character, not anomniscient narrator. "The true writer has nothing to say. What counts is the way he saysit," he once stated. In his essays
 For a New Novel 
(1963) Robbe-Grilled condemned theuse of metaphors, because they anthropomorphize objects. This led to his attack on Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, who, according to Robbe-Grillet, maintained 'a dubiousrelationship' with the world. "All my work is precisely engaged in the attempt to bring itsown structures to light."Several of Robbe-Grillet's works, such as
The Voyeur 
, are mysteries in which the reader is left to solve the puzzle without "authorized" explanation. The title of the work refers toMathias, a traveling watch salesman, who perhaps is a murderer. The book was awardedthe Critics' Prize in 1955 but part of the jury thought that it was not a "novel" at all.
 Jealousy
is among the most famous
nouveaux romans
from the 1950s. It is set on a banana plantation in the tropics, and it also takes a detective-story-like theme. A husbandspies on his wife and her alleged lover Franck, their neighbor, through the openings of aVenetian blind (jalousie in French). The plot is minimal and the nonexistent role of thenarrator is developed to the utmost limits.In DJINN (1981) Robbe-Grillet used another popular genre, the spy-story. The protagonist works for an androgynous American spy, and meets members of a secretsociety of latter-day Luddites dedicated to fighting the machine. The narrator is unsure of the external world; he is told that he is being dreamt, and after a while the story begins tofold back on itself. The bizarre logic crystallizes in an injured or perhaps dead child andremembers events that have not yet taken place. "My syllables fall, too, awakeningneither response nor echo, like useless objects deprived of sense. And silence closes inagain. Have I really spoken? Cold, numbness, paralysis begin to spread through mylimbs." LA MAISON DE RENDEZ-VOUS (1965) used several points of view, whichcontradicted each other. The story, focusing on a evening get together, folds back on itself various times. LA BELLE CAPTIVE (1975) was based on the myth of the beautifulcaptive, and took its themes from the paintings of the French surrealist René Magritte.
Snapshots
(1962) included an artistic homage to the painter Gustave Moreau (1826-98) inthe story 'The Secret Room'. Its coldly narrated erotic scene with a chained woman isfilled with sexual violence - a trait which is typical of Robbe-Grillet's later works. "Theman is till standing about yard away, half leaning over her. He looks at her face, seenupside down, her dark eyes made larger by their surrounding eye-shadow, her mouthwide open as if screaming. The man's posture allows his face to be seen only in a vague profile, but one senses in it a violent exaltation, despite the rigid attitude, the silence, theimmobility." (from 'The Secret Room')
 
In 1984 Robbe-Grillet published LE MIRROR QUI REVIENT, the first volume of anautobiographical trilogy,
 Romanesques
. In his latest works he has acknowledged ClaudeSimon's dictum that 'Everything is autobiographical, even the imaginary'. According toRobbe-Grillet, life is not overtly meaningful or absurd, it is rather simple. The theme of the labyrinth links Robbe-Grillet to Borges - they both are fascinated by interpretationsinside interpretations. Labyrinths are also the terrain of spy fiction, and in LA REPRISE(2001) a spy is sent to post-war Berlin on a mission which becomes for him a sado-eroticexperience. "All my novels are comic. Perhaps La Reprise more so", Robbe-Griller hassaid of his best-selling book.Robbe-Grillet's emphasis on the visual world led him in the 1960s to writing scenariosand directing films. Some of his novels have also been called
ciné-romans
(film-novels).These works have challenged the limits of expected narrative structures and conventionalrealism. Robbe-Grillet's thesis is that the physical world is the only true reality, and theonly way to approach memory is through physical objects. The most famousdramatization of his literary theories is Alan Resnais's film
 Last Year at Marienbad 
, for which he wrote the screenplay.The puzzle without solution presents a luxurious country house in which a stranger (Giorgio Albertazzi) meets a woman (Delphine Seyring), who may or may not have hadan affair with him the previous year, perhaps in Marienbad, or somewhere else. Theviewer never learns whether the meeting took place. The perfectly sculptured silentgardens, stately camera-work, and detached performances create a dreamlike atmosphere- the tiny humans in the landscape cast shadows while the manicured bushes do not. Arethe persons the only 'real' figures in the story? Robbe-Grillet's other early films include
Trans-Europ-Express
(1966), which circulated elements from Hitchcock films andgangster movies.
 L'Éden et aprés
(1971) started his color trilogy. In
Topology of a Phantom City
(1976) Robbe-Grillet used freeze-frame technique which he then set inmotion. A French policeman investigates the death of a prostitute. David is the perpetrator of the murder or murders that have taken place; David writes sometimes infirst person. "I am alone. Walking at random. Wandering, as if at random, among theunrecognizable fragments of what were palatial homes, public buildings, privateresidences, gaming houses and houses of prostitution, theatres, temples, and fountains. Iam looking for something."
For further reading
:
 Intersexual rivalry: a "reading in pairs" of Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet 
ed. by Julia Waters, Peter Collier (2000);
Inventing the Real World 
 by Marjorie H. Hellerstein(1998);
Women in Robbe-Grillet 
 by Lillian Dunmars (1994);
 Robbe-Grillet and the Fantastic
 by VirginiaHarger-Grinling, Tony Chadwick, eds. (1994);
 Robbe-Grillet and Modernity
by Raylene L. Ramsay (1992);
The Erotic Dream Machine
by Anthony N.Fragola (1992);
 Duplications et duplicité dans les'Romanesques' d'Alain Robbe-Grillet 
by Roger-Michel Allemand (1991);
 Alain Robbe-Grillet 
 by BenStoltzfus (1987, paperback);
 Alain Robbe-Grillet 
by Ilona Leki (1983);
 Alain Robbe-Grillet, l'éstange
byJean-Claude Vareille (1981);
 Films of Alain Robbe-Grillet 
 by Roy Armes (1981);
 Robbe-Grillet 
, ed. byFrançois Jost (1978, in Obliques 16-17);
 Robbe-Grillet 
 by Jean Ricardou (1976);
 Les Romans de Robbe-Grillet 
by Bruce Morrisette (1975);
 Pour une théorie du un nouveau roman
by Jean Ricardou (1971);
 Alain Robbe-Grillet and the New French Novel 
by Ben Stoltzfus (1964) -
The theoretical
 premises of the
 Nouveau roman
were collected in Robbe-Grillet's
 Pour un nouveau roman
(1963).
See also
 
Michel Butor , Claude Simon,Marguerite Duras, Roland Barthes,and  Nathalie Sarraute.The wave of experimentalism has  been important mainly in France, but also Kafka, William Faulkner, Samuel Beckett, Virginia Woolf,

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