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Alain Robbe-Grillet has long been regarded as the chief spokesman for the controversial nouveau roman. This collection of brilliant short pieces introduces the reader to those techniques employed by Robbe-Grillet in his longer works. These intriguing, gemlike stories represent his most accessible fiction.

72 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1962

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About the author

Alain Robbe-Grillet

97 books360 followers
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. 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 was born in Brest (Finistère, France) into a family of engineers and scientists. He was trained as an agricultural engineer. In the years 1943-44 Robbe-Grillet participated in service du travail obligatoire in Nuremberg where he worked as a machinist. The initial few months were seen by Robbe-Grillet as something of a holiday, since in between the very rudimentary training he was given to operate the machinery he had free time to go to the theatre and the opera. In 1945, Robbe-Grillet completed his diploma at the National Institute of Agronomy. Later, his work as an agronomist took him to Martinique, French Guinea,Guadeloupe and Morocco.

His first novel The Erasers (Les Gommes) was published in 1953, after which he dedicated himself full-time to his new occupation. His early work was praised by eminent critics such as Roland Barthes and Maurice Blanchot. Around the time of his second novel he became a literary advisor for Les Editions de Minuit and occupied this position from 1955 until 1985. After publishing four novels, in 1961 he worked with Alain Renais, writing the script for Last Year at Marienbad (L'Année Dernière à Marienbad), and subsequently wrote and directed his own films. In 1963, Robbe-Grillet published For a New Novel (Pour un Nouveau Roman), a collection of previous published theoretical writings concerning the novel. From 1966 to 1968 he was a member of the High Committee for the Defense and Expansion of French (Haut comité pour la défense et l´expansion de la langue française). In addition Robbe-Grillet also led the Centre for Sociology of Literature (Centre de sociologie de la littérature) at the university of Bruxelles from 1980 to 1988. From 1971 to 1995 Robbe-Grillet was a professor at New York University, lecturing on his own novels.

In 2004 Robbe-Grillet was elected to the Académie française, but was never actually formally received by the Académie because of disputes regarding the Académie's reception procedures. Robbe-Grillet both refused to prepare and submit a welcome speech in advance, preferring to improvise his speech, as well as refusing to purchase and wear the Académie's famous green tails (habit vert) and sabre, which he considered as out-dated.

He died in Caen after succumbing to heart problems


His writing style has been described as "realist" or "phenomenological" (in the Heideggerian sense) or "a theory of pure surface." Methodical, geometric, and often repetitive descriptions of objects replace the psychology and interiority of the character. Instead, one slowly pieces together the story and the emotional experience of jealousy in the repetition of descriptions, the attention to odd details, and the breaks in repetitions. Ironically, this method resembles the experience of psychoanalysis in which the deeper unconscious meanings are contained in the flow and disruptions of free associations. Timelines and plots are fractured and the resulting novel resembles the literary equivalent of a cubist painting. Yet his work is ultimately characterised by its ability to mean many things to many different people[2].


Robbe-Grillet wrote his first novel A Regicide (Un Régicide) in 1949, but it was rejected by Gallimard, a major French publishing house, and only later published with 'minor corrections' by his life-long publisher Les Editions de Minuit in 1978. His fi

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5 stars
35 (19%)
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60 (33%)
3 stars
61 (34%)
2 stars
15 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Nate D.
1,578 reviews984 followers
March 7, 2012
"Snapshots" is an apt descriptor of these brief, sometimes near-static vignettes, lines and geometries and reflections that sketch a form from a fixed viewpoint or camera angle. For the most part, they're entirely fixed on visual arrangements with little or no narrative content, and, since this is Robbe-Grillet, no allegoric or symbolic sense. Unsurprisingly, I liked the later examples most -- he begins with images, moves through a couple scenes, then begins deconstructing mundane spaces, and finally moves into the gothic-lurid for the last episode, written in 1962, and dedicated to Gustave Moreau.
Profile Image for W.B..
Author 4 books109 followers
January 1, 2008
This one would be in my top ten all-time for short story collections. The beach story is Philip Glass long before Philip Glass became Philip Glass. Yummy.
Profile Image for حسين الضو.
Author 2 books171 followers
October 18, 2022
آلان روب غرييه من الأسماء اللي تلفتني بشكل كبير، وكتابه "نحو رواية جديدة" من أهم الكتب بالنسبة لي في فن الرواية.
ومن قرأ لغرييه يستطيع أن يخمن أن كتاباته ستكون في غاية التجريب، ومن يكتب بهذا الشكل -عادة- لا تكون أعماله محل انتشار، لكنها بالتأكيد جديرة بالتوقف والتأمل.

هذه مجموعة قصصية غريبة، لم أستسغها في البداية لكن عندما قررت التعامل مع قصصها على أنها لوحات متحركة، أو شيء شبيه بالـgif، اكتشفت أن هذا الانسان عبقري.
Profile Image for Garrett.
33 reviews5 followers
May 19, 2021
A bunch of really good “stories” with a couple great ones
396 reviews7 followers
January 13, 2021
Really fucking great...little puddles of existence that bubble up out of silence (eno side 2 before and after science....); fantastic little serious pieces. When I read Grillet my heart is never bewildered in its speed; that is his failing as his work relates to me; or it is mine; it really doesn’t matter..... I admire it as much as one can.
Profile Image for ★.
52 reviews
August 10, 2019
Very strange little experiments, in which the dichotomous form/content model [which I generally find at least to have a certain utility] kind of breaks down. I think the most interesting 'story' is the first of the "three reflected visions" trilogy, where the pure, skeletal vision of wielding -solely- a very specific type of dry exposition [colors, textures, (most elaborately:) the physics of the reflective surfaces], is without exaggeration the entirety of the 'content.'

I think these are true experiments, in that they are not afraid to be duds, and, as in Robbe-Grillet's great cinematic contributions, their aim is to exploit, discover, subvert, our own psychology-- which we have no choice but to experience art through-- and the artificiality of the medium's rules.

However, I think the tools particular to the medium of "Marienbad" [which I consider to be in the top 20 greatest movies ever], and its even greater kin "Man With a Movie Camera" [Vertov, 1929]-- viz. montage, most supremely-- are the tools best suited to Robbe-Grillet's methodology he's using here. So nothing essential, but mildly interesting.
Profile Image for Lee Barry.
Author 15 books13 followers
September 9, 2018
“The Way Back“ is my favorite. This passage reminds me of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty

"From the top of the hill, just after rounding the turn marked by three or four pine trees standing apart from the little woods, one can see straight ahead down the road as far as the jetty, with the arm of the sea to the right, and the island, which is not yet entirely island. The water, calm as the water in a pond, almost comes over stone roadway, whose smooth brown surface has the same worn look as that of the nearby rocks. Delicate mossy algae, half bleached by the sun, stain the roadway with greenish spots, the proof that it is subjected to frequent, prolonged immersion."
Profile Image for Jesse Wiedel.
11 reviews
July 12, 2018
Excellent collection of experimental short stories based mainly on visual observation. The last story, that describes a painting, was mysterious, sinister and fabulous.
Profile Image for Hamish.
498 reviews147 followers
March 11, 2017
Part of what I love about Robbe-Grillet's work is the contrast between his incredibly exacting and specific descriptions and the uncertainty and ambiguity of his narratives, which creates this often intense feeling of unease and dread. For this effect to work, there has to be a narrative. In Snapshots, we only have descriptions. And while I admire Robbe-Grillet's technique, without the narrative it has no real effect and feels less like an innovative, powerful style and more like the empty experimentalism that he is often (unfairly) accused of writing. Snapshots essentially amounts to a series of verbal painting. And I don't want to imply that there aren't a few intriguing, memorable images here, but on their own they aren't enough to sustain my interest and certainly aren't enough to match the power of Robbe-Grillet's best work.
Profile Image for Lenore Webb.
506 reviews7 followers
February 13, 2012
This all reminds me of the resilience that we have as parents. Somehow once we have a child our ability to bear pain becomes a deep well. Weather it is from the moment of child birth or hearing those first harsh words spoken from anger of an upset child to doubling over in agony when we can not save them from themselves. My own mother lost a child at birth and my mother in law lost a son in his teens as well as my Dear Hubby lost a step son in his teens too. Soul wrenching grief overtakes a person when they are bearing this loss. And in time we start to heal. But if this happens and then your other children take paths of personal destruction then it is even deeper pain that you have to overcome. "Snapshots" is Cathy's memoir of just such a life.
Cathy Sosnowsky not only experienced the loss of her son, Alex, at the young age of 17, but also her two adopted children, Michael and Tanya. However, these two younger children weren't to a freak accident, but to the allure of drugs, alcohol and the mean streets. Cathy tells of how she dealt with her pain and suffering through her poignant and, sometimes humorous, memoir; Snapshots A Story of Love, Loss, and Life. I know that many tears graced my cheeks while I was reading this one. But more so I loved the message of how love can heal. There is always that gift given to us to bear up with the trials of life.
Profile Image for albin james.
184 reviews27 followers
May 1, 2015
If you're driving into town
With a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number
Who's bound to love you

Oh honey you turn me on
I'm a radio
I'm a country station
I'm a little bit corny
I'm a wildwood flower
Waving for you
Broadcasting tower
Waving for you

And I'm sending you out
This signal here
I hope you can pick it up
Loud and clear
I know you don't like weak women
You get bored so quick
And you don't like strong women
'Cause they're hip to your tricks

It's been dirty for dirty
Down the line
But you know
I come when you whistle
When you're loving and kind

But if you've got too many doubts
If there's no good reception for me
Then tune me out, 'cause honey
Who needs the static
It hurts the head
And you wind up cracking
And the day goes dismal

From "Breakfast Barney"
To the sign-off prayer
What a sorry face you get to wear
I'm going to tell you again now
If you're still listening there

If you're driving into town
With a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number
Who's bound to love you

If you're lying on the beach
With the transistor going
Kick off the sandflies honey
The love's still flowing
If your head says forget it
But your heart's still smoking
Call me at the station
The lines are open
Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,320 reviews2,195 followers
February 24, 2021

"The rainwater has accumulated in the hollow of a shallow depression, forming among the trees a wide pond, roughly circular in shape, some ten yards in diameter. Round about, the earth is black, without the slightest trace of vegetation between the high, straight trunks. There is neither brush nor shrubs in this part of the woods. The ground is covered only with a uniform, feltlike layer made up of twigs and leaves reduced to their veins, from which a few patches of moss protrude slightly in spots, half decomposed. High above the tree trunks, the bare branches stand out against the sky."
Profile Image for CharlieC.
114 reviews2 followers
September 23, 2015
C'est un ensemble assez inégal, pourtant très riche et très visuel. Chacune de ces scènes pour être donner lieu à un magnifique court métrage, tant cette écriture paraît cinématographie. 5 étoiles pour Le chemin du retour et La chambre secrète qui sont de loin les deux extraits les plus chauds, les plus vivants et surtout les plus organiques !
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews

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