Friday, February 22, 2008

Alain Robbe-Grillet, Dead

Just this week, and maybe it was Wednesday, I was talking about reading The Voyeur years ago and the impression it made on me. To see the world through the eyes of a psychopath and to merge with that disturbed mind was so powerful when it was written. A. R-G. was a writer in the style of Kafka, Rimbaud, Beckett, to name three.

Alain Robbe-Grillet

'We're not going to talk about Spider-Man 3' ... Alain Robbe-Grillet. Photograph: Daniel Janin/AFP

"Nowhere in all the world has anywhere been less interested in my work than in Great Britain," says Alain Robbe-Grillet. In this country, few know that he is a film-maker. Even fewer are aware that he is a novelist. Yet he is known across the Channel as the Pope of the nouveau roman ("new novel") and was hailed for his literary achievements half a century ago by great critics such as Roland Barthes and Maurice Blanchot. Hardly any Britons know that in 2004, Robbe-Grillet was elected one of the 40 "immortals" of the Académie Française in recognition of his great contribution to French literature. If few know that he is a novelist, even fewer have read his novels.,,2169523,00.html

He Was Nouveau When It Was New

And Here's his Obit:

February 19, 2008

Alain Robbe-Grillet, 85, French Author, Is Dead

PARIS (AP) — Alain Robbe-Grillet, an author and filmmaker who was one of France’s most important avant-garde writers in the 1950s, died on Monday. He was 85.

He died at a hospital in western France where he had been admitted over the weekend for cardiac problems, officials said.

As a novelist, Mr. Robbe-Grillet helped establish the New Novel, a genre that rejected conventional storytelling. As a screenwriter, he was best known for his work on Alain Resnais’s “Last Year at Marienbad” (1961), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.

An enigmatic work whose characters, often bored and identified only by initials, live in an otherworldly chateau, not sure whether they are planning seductions or remembering them, “Last Year in Marienbad” was released in the United States in early 1962 and became one of the most talked-about art films of the year.

Among the films Mr. Robbe-Grillet directed himself were “L’Immortelle” (“The Immortal”) (1963), “Trans-Europ-Express” (1967) and “Eden and After” (1970).

He was the most prominent of France’s so-called New Novelists, a group that emerged in the mid-1950s whose other members included Claude Simon, Michel Butor and Nathalie Sarraute. Their experimental work tossed aside literary conventions like plot and character development, narrative and chronology, chapters and punctuation.

Mr. Robbe-Grillet’s best-known works of fiction include “Les Gommes” (“The Erasers”), a 1953 novel about a detective investigating an apparent murder who ends up killing the victim, and “Le Voyeur” (1955), about the world seen through the eyes of a sadistic killer. His last novel, published last year, was “Un Roman Sentimental” (“A Sentimental Novel”).

In 1963 he wrote “Pour un Nouveau Roman” (“Toward a New Novel”), a highly regarded critical essay laying the theoretical foundations of the genre. It became the French avant-garde’s bible and catapulted Mr. Robbe-Grillet to star status among Parisian intellectuals.

Mr. Robbe-Grillet was born in Brest, France, the son of an engineer. He graduated from the Lycée St.-Louis in Paris and received a degree in agricultural engineering from the National Agronomy Institute.

Information about survivors was not immediately available.

Mr. Robbe-Grillet was inducted into France’s Legion of Honor and was one of the 40 so-called immortals of the prestigious Académie Française, the anointed protector of the French language.

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said in a statement, “The Académie Française today loses one of its most illustrious members, and without a doubt its most rebellious.”

Bon Soir.


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