Tropisms

images-3.jpgNathalie Sarraute describes tropisms as the “interior movements that precede and prepare our words and actions, at the limits of our consciousness.” They happen in an instant, and apprehending them in the rush of human interactions demands painstaking attention. Tropisms are the key to all of Sarraute’s work.

Since Sarraute is also a central writer in the nouveau roman, it is interesting to compare her “tropisms” to Robbe-Grillet’s Snapshots. In both works it is commonly asserted that they show the sources of the theory and technique of these writers (although one critic referred to R-G’s work as “aesthetic squiggles”).

The comparison is apt but I will suggest that Robbe-Grillet is more a noun while Sarraute is more a verb.

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Tap, Tap, Tapping On the Same Nail

MartereauAs I was reading Nathalie Sarraute’s Martereau I began to see a connection—a pattern—between her novel and a couple of other writers. Since Sarraute is one of the central practitioners of the nouveau roman, I immediately considered my favorite author, Alain Robbe-Grillet. But Sarraute’s novel was different (while still being the same) and all the attention to detail and to cerebral analysis brought Joseph McElroy to mind, especially his challenging novel, Actress In the House, or even more so his novel Women and Men that has challenged me for years and I have yet to conquer.

What is it about Martereau that makes it seem dense and demanding?

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Christine Brooke-Rose

EPSON MFP imageChristine Brooke-Rose falls under the category of being one of the best writers of the Twentieth Century that no one reads. I think part of the problem is that Brooke-Rose is challenging: her prose is exact, manipulative, and obscure; she is postmodern but her works suggest the nouveau roman; her insight is always on target but if you don’t put in the effort, you won’t get the benefit.

Apropos to a recent discussion (in another venue) Christine Brooke-Rose is NOT the author anyone who reads and praises Harry Potter or Stephen King will want to read. But if you like your literature more demanding, intellectual, imaginative, and unique, then Brooke-Rose is for you.

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Robert Pinget

Nouveaux RomanI admire the writing of French author, Robert Pinget. For those readers who like a challenge and don’t insist on an action-packed plot with familiar characters, Pinget is a good choice. It is best if you read in French but there are sufficient translations in print to satisfy most readers. But Pinget is one of those authors who are better in the VO because they play with the language and even a good translator might not carry the sense of the writing into the translation.

To show you all the wonderful novels you can read by Robert Pinget, here is the list from Wikipedia:

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