Alain Robbe-Grillet

Active - 1961 - 2007  |   Born - Aug 18, 1922   |   Died - Feb 18, 2008   |   Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Influential French novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet, a leading figure in the French Nouveau Roman literary movement of the late '50s, strongly advocated what he called chosisme, his theory that the only reality comes from the physical, not the mental, plane; therefore, the only way to understand reality and remember it is through the manipulation of the physical, something that should be represented in writing from a purely objective level. In the work of Robbe-Grillet, the concept of time and narrative progression was more fluid -- they would begin as standard narratives, and then gradually break down into abstractions largely devoid of obvious clues as to whether events were unfolding in the past, present, or future, thereby destroying the notion of reality. In the early '60s, Robbe-Grillet joined the Left Bank movement of French literati who sought to expand the horizons of their craft through cinema when he penned the screenplay for Resnais' landmark film L'Anee Derniere a Marienbad (Last Year at Marienbad), a complex inward journey into the mind of a nameless woman; in so doing, the film offers a fascinating glimpse into the true nature of human memory. Two years later Robbe-Grillet debuted as a director with L'Immortelle, a film with similar themes. He continued directing, but subsequent efforts have been less innovative. By the late '70s, erotic themes, albeit highly psychoanalytical and symbolic ones, began to figure prominently in his work. Robbe-Grillet died in 2008 at age 85.

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