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Le Voyeur

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  807 Ratings  ·  58 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
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Paperback, 254 pages
Published by Editions de Minuit (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,240)
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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
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Stephen P
Jun 27, 2013 Stephen P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Greg
Apr 07, 2011 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2013 William1 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2010 Scott Gates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Nick
Apr 30, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, suspense
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
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Audrey
Nov 21, 2009 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brent Legault
Jun 27, 2008 Brent Legault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jillian
Jun 12, 2012 Jillian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-books
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
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
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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
May
Feb 20, 2008 May rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, french
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).
Isabella Gutierrez
I read this for a class in French Cinema and Literature. While I was reading it to study for the mid-term we had, I found that reading this book was actually fun. Not only did the author do a great job at keeping you feeling disoriented, and slightly confused at everything, but at the end, when you take a step back, you're not sure if you even read the book, or it was all in your head. At least that's what I experienced. The book does such a good job of keeping you just as disoriented as the pro ...more
Lubnaa
"L'ordre temporel et événementiel du Voyeur est donc totalement et constamment troublé par les nombreux retours en arrière, par les scènes proleptiques ou imaginaires, et par un mélange de temps qui s'imbriquent les uns dans les autres et qui en viennent à se confondre.

Ce qui a pour effet de déstabiliser le lecteur qui ne sait plus où il doit se situer et comment il doit comprendre les événements désordonnés qu'il est en train de décoder. Le roman détruit ce qu'il a construit au fur et à mesure,
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Juliana Gray
Dec 25, 2011 Juliana Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Yes, this is good.
Travis
Aug 15, 2007 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So creepy...
Rob
Sep 10, 2015 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the breakthrough in the nouvelle roman, an attempt to shake up the fusty world of social realism with a little existential and intertextual derring-do. The tale is oh-so-simple: a wristwatch salesman (Mathias) comes back to the island he was born on and left, making calculations of how many he can sell in his day there. He misses the boat back. Meanwhile, a girl has been murdered or had an accident. Did Mathias "do it"?

Anyone cringing at the thought of a possible spoiler emerging here s
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Bridget
Oct 27, 2012 Bridget rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hamish
May 27, 2013 Hamish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
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
Jul 23, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rachel Kowal
3.4 stars

A surprisingly protracted read considering a child murder is at the core of the story. At first as I skimmed then skipped nearly twenty pages of dull descriptions of seaside scenery at the beginning, I was tempted to say The Voyeur was a victim of translation and probably hadn't been properly edited in English, but stripped of the tedium there would be almost nothing, no slow-cooker suspense. So where does that leave us?
Luke
Jun 25, 2008 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Anmarie Soucie
Aug 25, 2014 Anmarie Soucie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2015 Mikhail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 03, 2014 Larry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts out infuriating but gradually becomes fascinating as you realize the complex collaboration you, the reader/voyeur, are engaging in with the author.
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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
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