Cartooning Like You Mean It

Cartooning, Teaching & Living – by Tom Hart

R.I.P. Alain Robbe-Grillet

with 4 comments

I missed the death of Alain Robbe-Grillet, novelist and theoretician about novels. I found his “For A New Novel” in an Austin bookshop and devoured it, or the first half of it anyway. It was a series of essays and the first few were so powerful I never went on to finish the rest. Robbe-Grillet argued for a novel that was cleaved from character and plot, those were holdovers from drama. What a novel should do is use language to trigger events, images, etc. in the mind. He was especially drawn to the image, to seeing and describing, in cold detail, what was seen. An apple is no different than a cat, or an adulterous wife.

I wrote about that book on my teaching page here.

His novel Jealousy (La Jalousie) remains my favorite. Through sheer concentration of visual detail, and repetition of moments, he created a manic, frightened, furious book. A book filled with emotion, stemming mostly from a feeling of paranoia. It’s one of my favorite books ever.

I never could figure out In The Labryrnth but I’m determined to try it again some day.

Robbe-Grillet wrote the script for Last Year at Marienbad. What most people don’t realize is that script was EXACTLY how the movie turned out. That wild, cryptic movie was not trick of editing, or a product of an explorative process. It all came out of Robbe-Grillet, exactly as you see it. What a nut.

Today I value just the opposite in art. I did then, too, when I was reading his book. I value happy accidents and sloppy creation ,but his goals and my values are the same: absolute belief that something else is available for this form.

The only person I ever met who had read Robbe-Grillet (whom I didn’t foist it onto) was a cook in Austin named Flash- one of the grouchiest guys I’ve ever met. He saw me reading The Erasers, I think, and assumed it must have been for class. He told me about the half dozen of his books he had read, crushed his cigarette out and went back to angrily mashing Sunday’s eggs and ham around the grill.

NY Times article
LA Times
google search

Written by hutchowen

February 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I had totally forgotten about RB. Will go back and have a look, a read. Are you reading him in French? Your “page” is excellent which I say partly because several of my favorites are there…Gardner, Campbell… Anyway, thanks for popping Robbe-Grillet onto my re-reading list.


    February 24, 2008 at 4:11 pm

  2. We met briefly. I’ve read tons of Robbe-Grillet. The Erasers remains my favorite, mostly because of its place as a metaphysical detective story.


    February 24, 2008 at 4:48 pm

  3. […] Jealousy, and Towards a New Novel, by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Taking off where Calvino started in my brain, Robbe-Grillet sling-shotted it even farther. Link here from my blog posting after his death. […]

  4. […] artists (and friends) we are. One is a nice reflection on the recent passing of Alain Robbe-Grillet and the other is about the notion of what is “poetic” in comics (enticingly posted as […]

    A Pantoum Comic

    November 7, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: