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The Voyeur

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  726 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Mathias, a timorous, ineffectual traveling salesman, returns to the island of his birth after a long absence. Two days later, a thirteen-year-old girl is found drowned and mutilated. With eerie precision, Robbe-Grillet puts us at the scene of the crime and takes us inside Mathias’s mind, artfully enlisting us as detective hot on the trail of a homocidal maniac. A triumphan ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published February 10th 1994 by Grove Press (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,906)
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Paul Bryant
This was the one which convinced me that I didn't have to finish a book if it became as painful as having my toes gnawed off one by one by the neighbour's strange nine-year-old son. I realised the author was the guy who wrote the script for Last Year at Marienbad which is the all time quintessence of French cinematic 60s avant-gardery. Dig the Wikipedia plot summary

Through ambiguous flashbacks and disorientating shifts of time and location, the film explores the relationships between the charact
...more
Stephen P
It was as if no one had heard.
The whistle blew again-a shrill, prolonged noise followed by three short blasts of ear-splitting violence: a violence without purpose that remained without effect.


This is the beginning of Robbe-Grillet's, The Voyuer. What are we to make of it? Continous, obstinate, simple declarative observations of concrete objects. Is this the vision of a pursuer, pursued, a keen detective, the cultured pen of a writer who threatens the accumulation of metaphoric meaning? The te
...more
Greg
Different mediums handle styles of narrative with more success than others. I think that Robbe-Grillet's style is one such example. I loved the film Last Year at Marienbad, which he wrote the screenplay for. The repetitiveness, the continual focus on the details of the hotel, the surreal dreamlike quality worked perfectly. A lot of the same stylistic themes are present in The Voyeur but they make me yawn here. I think some of why it works in the film is that the film is visually captivating, if ...more
Nate D
Aug 03, 2010 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: traveling watch salesmen harbouring unseemly preoccupations
Recommended to Nate D by: 60s/70s avant-garde film
A mesmerizing mystery/novel. By which I mean that the novel itself, and its fascinating construction, is as much the object of the mystery as the murder that seems to be contained within its pages. Here, unlike similarly subjective novels, Robbe-Grillet withholds any truly concrete narrative foundation as springboard to his stream-of-consciousness flights of fancy. There simply isn't any recognizable objective reality in the novel, as far as I an tell on first reading. We're constantly given see ...more
William1
A slog. With a mere 25 pages to go, I lost patience and couldn't finish it. There's a redundancy of detail that, I know, Robbe-Grillet thinks is his clever structural trick, but here, in translation, unlike in the exquisite Jealousy, is simply tedious. Read Jealousy instead.
Scott Gates
Beautifully and very very patiently written, The Voyeur reads like a dark fairy tale for adults (“all great novels are great fairy tales”—Nabokov).

The main character, Mathias, is a watch salesman, and his obsessive-compulsive fixation on the minutest details of stuff cripples his ability to sell anything. Mathias is always doing stuff like this (he’s at a bar, drinking an aperitif, trying to figure out the brand of the drink):

“Mathias wanted to reconstruct the scene in order to try to fasten on
...more
Audrey
This was such a gripping, suspenseful book. The premise is very simple: a salesman visits a small island of which he was once a resident, hoping to sell his stock of wristwatches. After that, everything is up for grabs, including the central turn of the plot, the murder of a young girl. The suspense builds slowly, but don't run out of patience. This is a meta-thriller, where you begin to doubt whether there's even such a thing as "narrative" at all.
Andrew
What was it that happened in France in the mid-20th Century? Why did all of these writers suddenly start writing these eerie, abstract things that, while rooted in descriptions of such everyday shit, kind of just roll around? Did it have anything to do with the fact that their countrymen, people like Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, were making filmic equivalents?

Whatever the answer, The Voyeur is a perfect example of one of these weird French things, written by the primary theorist of the nouvea
...more
Brent Legault
Jun 27, 2008 Brent Legault rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parallel line enthusiasts, stray string nuts
At first, I thought this would be a novel without character. There was so much detail, seemingly (genuinely?) meaningless detail, so much set dressing and debris, that I couldn't make any sense of it. Twenty pages in and I was still dumbfounded.

But then I began to get it, and furthermore, get into it. And Robbe-Grillet began to leave behind his ant's-eye view of things and his prose began to stand up straight like a man. Or, in this case, a madman.

It's a difficult novel and the (cough, cough) p
...more
Nick
One of the strangest books ever wriiten, this could be a sinister mystery of a girl's disappearnce on a holiday island, or it could be the ramblings of a bored vacationer.

In the movie "Sideways" the character played by Paul Giamatti is telling his would-be girlfriend on their first date about the novel he's currently writing; he explains that he started the novel going one direction, then turned it into "a sort of Robbe-Grillet mystery, you know?" -- to which the girl he's speaking to vacantly n
...more
Jillian
If this is the New Novel, I'd like the Old Novel back. Who is the voyeur? Is it the salesman, bumbling around on his bicycle with his gumdrops, cigs and cord? Is it the entire village? Is it the ominous sea gull? Is it the reader? There are so many planes and figure eights in this novel. So many slices and sluices, parallels and perpendiculars. Prepare to feel like you're failing algebra. You want motive? You want a sex scene? Robbe-Grillet gives us a series of napes. Napes of necks. Necks with ...more
Darius Zarenejad
Robbe-Grillet sets a beautiful scene for us: a protagonist (a man who we never really understand as we are only given the description of what his eyes see, never his inner thoughts), named Mathias, whose returning to his childhood town (some costal, french island, vividly imaged by the author), with the intent to sell watches (Mathias is a traveling watch salesman) to the natives of this picturesque town, only to be caught up in what one can describe as a guilt-stricken, possibly delusional self ...more
Matthew
An intricately crafted novel that evokes the same buried dread and mounting tension of a David Lynch movie. The Voyeur develops through a strange sort of dream logic that is absolutely captivating- once acclimated to its experimental structure that explores both narrative structure and the relationship between author/reader/character. Bruce Morrissette from his chapter on the novel in The Novels of Robbe-Grillet:
" [...] in The Voyeur, the author -absent, impersonal, but possessing a special "vis
...more
May
read yesterday in the paper that robbe-grillet passed away. i read this book a long time ago so my memory of it is not so fresh. but i do recall being very affected by the style, the creepiness of it. or how the author makes you feel like a voyeur just by reading about a voyeur. in a way, something similar to what knut hamsun achieved in hunger (making the reader feel insane from hunger).
Juliana Gray
Fascinating exploration of point of view, with the third person narration doubling back on his own timeline in an elegant figure eight. I'd love to teach this book some day, though it might be too difficult for undergraduates.
aya
Jun 21, 2009 aya rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to aya by: tanya
it took a while for me to get into this but once i did, it was stunning. incredibly geometric, cinematic but all chopped up. fucking genius.
Travis
So creepy...
Bridget
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hamish
When I was in college, someone told me about a novel that contains (or at least this is how I remember him telling me about it) a blank page where the reader can never be sure what happened on that blank page, but presumably it was a horrible rape/murder. Years later I would frequently think back to that conversation and wonder what the name of that book was. Originally I thought it sounded very clever, later I thought it sounded kind of gimmicky. A few months ago I was reading a critical introd ...more
Chris
This book was a major challenge to read, and at the same time an absolute feat of literary cubism. I'm a great reader, and my favorite kinds of books are ones that mess with the reader's head. This may be the most head messing with book I've ever read in my life. Take 'The Stranger' and combine it with the movie 'Pi' and you may have something near 1/2 of the mind-fuckery that this book was. I actually think it would be a fantastic artsy film that about 5 people would ever get. Somewhat like wit ...more
Sam Cho
It was either the effect of the writing or simply the defects of my attention, but I constantly had the feeling I had missed something or I had not paid enough attention to certain details as I went along reading The Voyeur. To be sure, the writing is bland, as if it was a dissertation. Yet, it was exactly so that certain scenes of The Voyeur zoomed by and other scenes lagged and hovered. The setting is told in an angular and precise manner.
Richard Epstein
"Experimental" is a descriptive term, not an encomium. I didn't really understand this until my Modern Experimental Literature Class. Most of what we read was indeed experimental. And pretty dreadful. I liked Billiards at Half-Past Nine, as I recall, but Böll wasn't all that experimental. Not compared to Robbe-Grillet, anyway, who, I trust, has evaporated like the morning dew, leaving only a little damp patch behind.
Luke
Jun 25, 2008 Luke rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Luke by: AMP
The Voyuer includes one of the neatest literary tricks ever executed. The story of a murderer wandering his home island unfolds obliquely in a cubist manner. The "absent narrator" effect heightens the utter estrangement of character and traditional plot devices. The primary lines of narrative are rather spatial and object-oriented. In my favorite passage, two characters are connected seamlessly through a gull perched on a fence equidistant between them. Robbe-Grillet uses the bird's dual monocu ...more
Noodles
Takes patience and dedication but this book was pretty amazing if you ask me, so much that I ended up doing a paper on it. I love how Robbe-Grillet plays with time and perspective.; disorienting, fascinating, very much worthwhile.
Mikhail
есть еще книги, которые могут удивить
если пробраться через сухое кинемотографичное описание деталей

сценарий? новый роман? авангард?
что это было?
выдох
круто

остальное кем-то уже сказано
Larry
Starts out infuriating but gradually becomes fascinating as you realize the complex collaboration you, the reader/voyeur, are engaging in with the author.
Mohsen Rajabi
بسیار سختخوان و خستهکننده بود، اما اگر فقط داستانش را در نظر بگیرید میتوان گفت که در کل بد نیست. ...more
Liviu
The Voyeur fits very well the "anti novel" bill; a book that eschews any psychological insight/motivation but leaves one inferring what happens and why while using a very clear and compelling language to present the narrative.

If you feel like doing a crossword puzzle or playing a computer game but reading is your passion, try this book and you will get the feel of the above while reading a master of contemporary literature.

Do not expect things to be simple, make sense or offer too much of a res
...more
Kia Jaikaran
Alain-Robbe Grillet is a sheer genius. The seeming redundancy in this novel makes it metaphorically ironic in that one would think that due to such redundancy and repetition, the predictability of events would be blatantly obvious but it isn't as the reader is given so much but yet so little because the "crime" is lacks an element of certainty, inflicts such confusion, it makes it virtually impossible to solve. Even Mathias' accounts of events cannot be trusted because of the psychoanalytic disc ...more
Anton
It's kinda like the movie La Moustache.
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Alain Robbe-Grillet was a French writer and filmmaker. He was along with Nathalie Sarraute, Michel Butor and Claude Simon one of the figures most associated with the trend of the Nouveau Roman. Alain Robbe-Grillet was elected a member of the Académie française on March 25, 2004, succeeding Maurice Rheims at seat #32.

He was married to Catherine Robbe-Grillet (née Rstakian) .

Alain Robbe-Grillet wa
...more
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