M's Reviews > Recollections of the Golden Triangle

Recollections of the Golden Triangle by Alain Robbe-Grillet
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's review
Aug 27, 12

bookshelves: 2009, fiction, favorite-favorites, with-me-in-ca
Read in July, 2009

It's hard for me to identify whatever my favorite Robbe-Grillet novel is, because as a general rule it's always "the last one I read." This one works really well with Topology of a Phantom City (my last favorite, possibly still my favorite... actually, let's just say that one and this one are my favorites).

I should also clarify that I feel like I read this in a somewhat "privileged" position: I have read/looked at the 3 books that the majority of this text consists of: La Belle Captive (chapters 2,3, and 4 make up about 50 pages (a third) of this), The Target (Robbe-Grillet's "collaboration" with Jaspar Johns), and I have looked through (though I can't read French fluently) the collaboration with Irina Ionesco, Temple Aux Miroirs. Knowing the sources of these texts, and having already experienced the narrative, with the addition of the images, made me realize immediately that there weren't just "random narratives strung together," rather, it's Robbe-Grillet playing with the text, working his intertextual magic (check out my comments on Bruce Morrissette's Intertextual Assemblage in Robbe-Grillet...), and it's really just a joy to see how Robbe-Grillet uses combinatory methods to place all of his generative signs into a single context that really works as a story, and a fascinating one at that.

Also, I think this novel includes the most impressive and subtle perspective/narratives "glissements" that I've ever encountered (though this is something that Robbe-Grillet, post nouveau-roman, became somewhat obsessed with, so this shouldn't surprise me). The fact that the narrative threads will slip from first person to third person, from the point of view of one character to another, from a narrative to an embedding narrative which then overtakes the main narrative (as an example, a girl begins to describe the plot of a play to our narrator, but then the plot description, without any warning, has become the new narrative of the novel), with such subtlety and grace is really astounding to a lit nerd like me.

I also have to admit that,frankly, I think the plot is a lot of fun. It's so darkly humorous that I can't read the so-called "misogyny" as that, and rather, it's just the same area that exploitation/genre films have always been exploring. Plus, in an interview Robbe-Grillet was asked to defend his treatment of women in his narrative, and (among other things) he responds by indicating that he wants to encourage women to use men in the same way in narratives (and actually, in my favorite novel of Robbe-Grillet's wife, Catherine Robbe-Grillet [writing under the nom de plume of Jeanne de Berg:], Women's Rites, this is precisely the case; this erotic, fantastizing suggestion is put into practice [and obviously the title itself is a play in "women's rights", ignoring the political in lieu of the erotic, the fetishistic:]).

What I'm trying to say is this: this is fantastic, and I will continue to stand behind Robbe-Grillet's later works, as I find them far more fulfilling on all levels than his earliest, critically applauded novels.
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