19 February 2008

alain robbe-grillet : 1922-2008

This sad news from Bloomberg.com, courtesy of Marc Lowe:

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Alain Robbe-Grillet, the French author and theoretician of the 1950s ``new novel'' genre, died today, the Academie Francaise reported. He was 85.

Seeking to overturn conventional fiction, Robbe-Grillet attempted to write novels that avoided psychological or ideological commentary, as he explained in his 1963 book, ``Pour un Nouveau Roman'' (``Toward a New Novel'').

In place of plot and character, Robbe-Grillet focused on meticulous descriptions of things and events as seen by an objective eye. With their timetables of people coming and going, Robbe-Grillet's novels can resemble noir detective stories.

His 1953 novel, ``Les Gommes'' (``The Erasers''), addresses a murder committed by the man who's investigating the crime. ``Le Voyeur'' of 1955 describes a stranger who kills a young girl.

Two years later, Robbe-Grillet published ``La Jalousie'' (``Jealousy''), in which a jealous husband spies on his wife and her suspected lover through the shutters of a blind, or ``jalousie.'' Time and again, his work explores the relationship between objectivity and subjectivity.

Born in Brest, Brittany, on Aug. 18, 1922, Robbe-Grillet trained as a statistician and agronomist before turning his hand to fiction. He wrote more than 10 novels, including last year's ``Un Roman Sentimental'' (``A Sentimental Novel''), a book about pedophilia that he called a ``fairy tale for adults.''

Robbe-Grillet also directed motion pictures, including ``L'Immortelle'' (``The Immortal,'' 1963) and ``L'Homme Qui Ment'' (``The Man Who Lies,'' 1968). His best-known work in film was his screenplay for Alain Resnais' ``L'Annee Derniere a Marienbad'' (``Last Year at Marienbad,'' 1961).

He was elected to the Academie Francaise in 2004.