RARA-AVIS: Robbe-Grillet Update

From: Mark R. Harris ( brokerharris@gmail.com)
Date: 23 Oct 2007

Interestingly, the 85-year-old Robbe-Grillet has a new novel just out in France, and it's stirring up controversy. Here's an account from the excellent weblog The Literary Saloon (at The Complete Review website);


<Robbe-Grillet's Un roman sentimental

       They seemed to have hoped for considerable attention and maybe a bit of scandal with the publication of Alain Robbe-Grillet's new novel, Un roman sentimental, which finally came out last week, but it seems to have all fallen a bit flat. Oh, sure, people are still expressing their outrage and disgust, but they don't seem to be nearly as excited about it as one might have expected.
       Coming out so late in the season the novel had the advantage of less competition -- but even dangling it in front of the foreign crowds in Frankfurt didn't seem to raise its profile much. Published in a shrink-wrapped protective cover, the pages uncut, with a warning (of sorts) on the cover, and no preview copies for the press they certainly went to great lengths to keep the contents
(literally) under wraps -- perhaps, so the general thinking, because of the pedophilic aspects of the story (which are apparently the main aspects of the story) and concerns that interfering politicians might want to set another example (as one who has since risen to greater prominence did with another book a few years ago ...); see, for example Jacques-Pierre Amette's account in Le Point.
       Yes, it's apparently pure (young teen-)porn: in Alain Robbe- Grillet: Rosse Bonbon in L'Express Baptiste Liger thinks it's shocking, filled with:

une s鲩e de sc讥s de barbarie naus饵ses difficilement descriptibles, dignes de Sade ou de Restif de la Bretonne.

[a series of nauseating barbarities that are hard to describe, worthy of de Sade or Restif de la Bretonne.]

(Apparently the de Sade and Restif de la Bretonne-comparisons are not complimentary .....]

       Few abroad seem to have taken much notice, either, but Julia Emcke did tackle it -- and tear it to pieces -- in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, in Er will doch nur spielen, where she sees it as pretty much the definitively last nail in the coffin of the Nouveau Roman.
       There is some debate about it -- witness the 849 'commentaires' at La r鰵blique des livres in response to Pierre Assouline's blog-comments, but last we checked the Amazon.fr-sales- rank was a pretty unsensational 1.087.
       See also the Fayard publicity page.>

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