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'Jealousy' tells of a jealous husband whose suspicion of his wife and neighbors takes possession of his mind.

103 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 1957

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About the author

Alain Robbe-Grillet

96 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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Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,345 reviews11.7k followers
April 25, 2022

“The world is neither meaningful, nor absurd. it quite simply is, and that, in any case, is what is so remarkable about it.”
― Alain Robbe-Grillet

For anyone interested in exploring the fiction of the Nouveu Roman (New Novel), Alain Robbe-Grillet’s 100-page novella, Jealousy, would make for a great start, a prime example of the author’s unique style, a style highlighting precise, mathematical and frequently repetitive descriptions of objects rather than the novel’s more traditional emphasis on inner psychology or stream-of-consciousness. Reading this short novel set on a banana plantation within the tropics made for one unique literary experience; more specifically, here are six themes most piquant:

Novel As Film
English “Jealousy” is a translation of the French “Jalousie,” and in French there is a second meaning of this word -- ‘shutters’, that is, window shutters. Actually, I don’t know if any other reviewer or literary critic noted a third possible meaning: camera shutter, as in camera shutter speed working in concert with the aperture settings of a film camera. It’s this third meaning I particularly enjoy since one possible interpretation of the novel is ‘novel-as-film,’ that is, the two main character, a man and a women, could be leading actors in a film with the objective 3rd person narrator as film director, Incidentally, Robbe-Grillet was one of the top French film directors of his day.

Detail, Detail, Detail
On the first two pages we are given a blueprint of the house, courtyard and surrounding banana trees along with a legend labeling ten different parts of the house. And throughout the novel the detail continues, expressed in a kind of mechanical drawing length-and-width language, descriptions overwhelmingly visual, as if outlining specifics for a film crew to construct a set and do a filming. Mechanical engineering-like detail also applies to the surrounding banana trees, for example, here is a snippet from a full two pages description: “Without bothering with the order in which the actually visible banana trees and the cut banana trees occur, the sixth row gives the following number: twenty-two, twenty-one, twenty, nineteen – which represent respectively the rectangle, the true trapezoid, the trapezoid with a curved edge, and the same after subtracting the holes cut in the harvest.”

Alienation From Nature
The way the author writes about man-made objects and nature, one has the distinct impression the two main characters, Franck and A... (yes, we are only given the lady’s first initial and three dots) are in a running battle with such as engines continually breaking down as well as tropical heat, the deafening racket of crickets, the dark of the night and particularly one species of insect, sometimes wriggling, sometimes squished, described in minute detail: the centipede. Recall how Albert Camus wrote frequently about man’s estrangement and alienation from the world; also recall how Jean-Paul Sartre philosophized extensively about the alienation of human experience (being-for-itself) from objects and nature (being-in-itself). Alan Robbe-Grillet was much influenced by both Camus and Sartre.

Alienation From One’s Own Body
“Franck’s face as well as his whole body are virtually petrified.” A... is “Petrified by her own gaze.” Also, reference is made to the stiff movements of both A... and Franck, movements in sharp contrast to one of the Negros described as having a loose, quick gait. Sidebar: In Robbe-Grillet’s novel The Erasers, the main character, Wallas, is the one with the loose, quick gait and the people in the novel’s city are the ones that are stiff or flabby.

Novel Within a Novel
Both main characters are reading, reflecting and sharing their thoughts on an African novel that has many parallels with their own lives in the tropics. For me, this was a most fascinating part of this novella. At one point we read about Franck’s (and also the narrator’s) reaction to A...'s discussing various other possibilities the plot of this African novel could have taken: “Then Franck sweeps away in a single gesture all the suppositions they had just constructed together. It’s no use making up contrary possibilities, since things are the way they are, reality stays the same.” How about that; on the topic of things, the narrator (or possibly Franck) echoes Robbe-Grillet’s own disinclination to use simile and metaphor. And, by the way, not only are there nearly zero similes or metaphors in this novella, the sentences tend to be short and staccato.

Metafiction, anyone?
“The sentences become shorter and limit themselves for the most part, to repeating fragments of those spoken during their last two days, or even before.” Does this quote refer to the spoken sentences of the main characters or to the written sentences of the novella, or both? One more fascinating aspect we encounter – is the narrator really all that objective or is the narrator an integral part of the life of either or both of the main characters? The more I contemplate the possibilities at every turn in this little new novel, the more admiration I have for its author.

*Special thanks to Goodreads friend Ian for suggesting we both read and write separate reviews for this Robbe-Grillet novella.
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,397 reviews3,274 followers
November 8, 2022
In Jealousy Alain Robbe-Grillet isn’t a writer – he is a spy and an eavesdropper.
Inside looking out… Outside looking in…
Besides, she was no longer facing Franck at that moment. She had just moved her head back and was looking straight ahead of her down the table, toward the bare wall where a blackish spot marks the place where a centipede was squashed last week, at the beginning of the month, perhaps the month before, or later.

In a way Jealousy is a colonial novel: banana trees, plantation, black cook, natives – but it’s only entourage… The main theme is the spying on the heroine…
Besides, she has not awakened just now. It is obvious she has already taken her shower. She is still wearing her dressing gown, but her lips are freshly made up – the lipstick color the same as their natural color, a trifle deeper, and her carefully brushed hair gleams in the light from the window when she turns her head, shifting the soft, heavy curls whose black mass falls over the white silk of her shoulder.

Every insignificant detail is depicted meticulously… Scenes repeat, observed from the different vantage points… Gradually all the scenes merge into a single surreal scene…
The face, hidden because of her position, is bending over the table where the invisible hands are busy with some long-drawn-out and laborious task: mending a stocking, polishing nails, a tiny pencil drawing, erasing a stain or a badly chosen word. From time to time she straightens up and leans back to judge her work from a distance. With a slow gesture, she pushes back a shorter strand of hair which has come loose from this unstable arrangement and is annoying her.

Watching other people we can know nothing about their inner world, we can only guess.
Profile Image for Tara.
369 reviews21 followers
April 25, 2019
What the hell did I just read?! This is one of the most bizarre, tense, paralyzing novellas I’ve ever experienced. Lying in wait within these scant few pages are the noxious suffocation and claustrophobia inherent in jealousy, manifested in an extremely original, shockingly cumulative way. The reader is insidiously imprisoned, trapped in an endless circular labyrinth of stifling, oppressive stillness. This confinement, however, rapidly becomes a perverse pleasure. It both enervates and intoxicates; there is no desire whatsoever to leave. The consuming addiction, the taut, closed loop of suspicion, is all.

While reading this was exquisitely excruciating, now that it’s over, I find that I’m suffering even more acutely from the withdrawal. I need to get back into that singularly airless reality, to submerge myself in that relentless inertia once more. To borrow a word from David Foster Wallace, I’m completely aghasted. Often, I’m not entirely sure what to make of experimental literature, but this, I can safely say, was a masterfully meticulous mind fuck of the first order. The sensation I had upon finishing it reminds me of what I felt after viewing Eraserhead for the first time:

Read at your own risk. You may never truly escape. But then, you probably won’t want to.
November 9, 2019
"Ο ανθρώπινος χρόνος δε γυρίζει κυκλικά, αλλά προχωρεί σε ευθεία γραμμή. Γι αυτό και ο άνθρωπος δε μπορεί να είναι ευτυχισμένος, επειδή η ευτυχία είναι επιθυμία επανάληψης...''
Η επιθυμία της επανάληψης, αυτή, που λέγεται «ευτυχία»,
στη ζωή των ανθρώπων, σε έναν κόσμο που υπάρχει
και αναπαριστάται μέσα απο βιωμένες εμπειρίες,
είναι ανεκπλήρωτη, ποτέ δεν υφίσταται, δεν γίνεται,
δεν πραγματοποιείται.
Υπάρχει ως καλλιτεχνική και δημιουργική πραγματικότητα αλλά δεν υποστηρίζεται απο την αλήθεια της φαντασίας, ούτε απο το ψέμα που στοιχειώνει κάθε καινούργια ιστορία σαν φάντασμα αντιφάσεων.

«Η ζήλια» είναι ένα υπέροχα μαρτυρικό μυθιστόρημα που βασανίζει και τυραννάει όποιον προσπαθήσει
να το εντάξει στο πλαίσιο πραγματικού περιβάλλοντος
ή έστω να το εξηγήσει απο θέσεις που αναδημιουργούν κάποιες απο τις συνθήκες μιας πραγματικής εμπειρίας.

Στόχος του είναι η απουσία κυνισμού,
η αίσθηση του αναγνώστη ότι έχει περάσει μέσω του χάους, του φωτός, του σκοταδιού,
της τάξης και της αταξίας σε έναν άλλο κόσμο
που αισθάνεται πραγματικός μέσω του βλέμματος και της ακοής.
Εκεί που φθάνει το βλέμμα, φθάνει και το φως,ο λόγος. Το σκοτάδι ειναι μαύρο απειλητικό και το τεχνητό φως μιας λάμπας μπορεί να δώσει εξουσία και δύναμη.
Όταν ο άνθρωπος μπορεί να βλέπει και να ακούει υπερβαίνει ακόμη και την ίδια του την παρουσία στον χώρο.

Το βιβλίο αυτό είναι μια νεκροψία της ζωής,
μια ανατομική λεπτή εγκεφαλική δράση που το εγχείρημα της είναι πιο παράδοξο και απο την παράνοια. Όλη η ουσία, το νόημα, η σημασία
(αν υπάρχουν με τον συμβατικό όρο) εμπεριέχονται στον τίτλο του.
Ένα γραπτό που ονομάζεται
«η ζήλεια» βαπτισμένο λίγο πριν πεθάνει,
απο ένα συναίσθημα, αυτό της ζήλειας.
Όμως, πουθενά δεν υπάρχει ρητό συναισθηματικό περιεχόμενο. Δεν υπάρχει έκφραση αισθημάτων απο κανέναν ήρωα υπαρκτό ή ανύπαρκτο.
Συμπεραίνουμε απλώς τις ψυχολογικές καταστάσεις απο τις συμπεριφορές. Συμπεραίνουμε την ζήλεια απο ψήγματα ανησυχίας.

Το πιο απλό, λιτό και απέρριτο συμπέρασμα του βιβλίου θα ήταν πως πρόκειται για την ιστορία
κάποιου ζηλιάρη συζύγου ο οποίος υποπτεύεται τη σύζυγο του για απιστία.
Αυτό είναι όλο, αν δεν θέλεις να περάσεις μια εξοντωτική εμπειρία, εντάσσεις το μυθιστόρημα μέσα στην ζωή, σε πραγματικό χρόνο
και βαυκαλίζεσαι ότι μέσα στο πλαίσιο που πολύ σωστά έθεσες στο μυαλό σου αναπαράγεις πολλά απο τα συνακόλουθα συναισθήματα σχετικά με τη ζήλια.
Σαν κυβιστική ζωγραφική όπου μια μέρα επαναλαμβάνεται ξανά και ξανά απο ελαφρώς διαφορετικές γωνίες, χαμένοι συμβολισμοί και μια σαρανταποδαρούσα που εξολοθρεύεται πολλές φορές σε κάθε επιλεκτική και εμμονική διάσταση επανάληψης.

Προσωπικά πριν το κάψω και το στηλιτεύσω αποφάσισα να το δω απο μία πιο πλευρική συλλογιστική σκέψη.

Η αλήθεια είναι πως στην αρχή προσπαθώντας να καταλάβω στερεοτυπικά αυτό που διάβαζα, ήμουν έτοιμη -στο γύρισμα κάθε σελίδας όπου μονολογούσα πως αν συνεχίσει το ίδιο μαθηματικό μοτίβο ακατανοησίας αδράνειας και επανάληψης της δραστικής αδράνειας -να εξαπολύσω μύδρους στην κριτική αξιολόγηση και να χαρακτηρίσω το βιβλίο πεθαμένο.
Μια πεθαμένη γραφή ασάφειας ανάμεσα σε μπανανοφυτείες, σε κάποια γαλλική αποικία, μέσα σε ένα ξύλινο σπίτι που το γνωρίζεις ως γνήσιος χωρομέτρης εντός εκτός και
επί τα αυτά γωνιωδώς, εναλλάξ, συνδυαστικά και παράλληλα με ό,τι περιέχει ή υπαινίσσεται πως περιέχει μέσα και έξω απο το χώρο, όπου τα ίδια, σιχάθηκαν τα ίδια.

Και κάπου ανάμεσα «στο μια φορά και ένα μπορώ» , νατο μπροστά μου αυτό που φοβόμουν περισσότερο.

Άρχισα να το αγαπώ, να το θαυμάζω, να το κατανοώ, να το απολαμβάνω.

Ίσως επειδή του έδωσα την δική μου ερμηνεία
και μαζί σωθήκαμε απο μια παρακαμπτήρια υποτίμηση, μπαίνοντας στο τούνελ της εικονικής πραγματικότητας.

Εντυπωσιάστηκα απο την κατασκευή αυτής της φαινομενικά ζωντανής ιστορίας που κάνει απλώς περιγραφικές δηλώσεις, παρόμοιες με μια σειρά κατευθύνσεων.

Οι φαινομενικά αβλαβείς σκηνές επαναλαμβάνονται πολλές φορές, δίνοντας την εντύπωση πως όλα ξαναζωντανέυουν συνεχώς, καταφέρνουν και ξαναζωντανεύουν οι σκηνές, οι στιγμές, τα λόγια, οι παρουσίες, τα απρόσμενα, τα απρόοπτα, τα
ύποπτα..τα νεκρά
και τα σαφέστατα, (εδώ έλυσα το γρίφο, αν υπήρχε).

Δεν αναφερόμαστε στη ζωή ... με την ευθεία χρονική γραμμή προς το θάνατο, αλλά με τον θάνατο που υποδύεται πως είναι άλλος και αισθάνεται την ύπαρξη του αποκαλύπτοντας την παρουσία του στην πιθανή υπόθεση της επανάληψης.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
February 10, 2015
"The shadow of the column, though it is already very long, would have to be nearly a yard longer to reach the little round spot on the flagstones. From the latter runs a thin vertical thread which increases in size as it rises from the concrete substructure. It then climbs up the wooden surface, from lath to lath, growing gradually larger until it reaches the window sill. But its progression is not constant: the imbricated arrangement of the boards intercepts its route by a series of equidistant projections where the liquid spreads out more widely before continuing its ascent. On the sill itself, the paint has largely flaked off after the streak occurred, eliminating about three-quarters of the red trace."

The quote above is representative of the type of writing you will experience if you decide to read this novella. The narrator is presenting information to us through the lens of a camera, leaving out any conjecture that we instinctively use to fill in what we can’t see or understand. He never refers to himself or use the word I. The first time that I realize that he is in the frame of the scene being described is when there are two people being observed and a third plate on the table. The bus boy brings three glasses further confirming for me that the narrator is actually present and not just bloodshot eyes peering through a window blind.

JEALOUSY_zps74443d27 In French "Jalousie" means both "jealousy" and "blinds".

The narrator is the husband of a woman referred to only as A. The other main character in this drama is a neighboring plantation owner named Franck. His wife Christiane is only referred to, but never enters the aperture of the scene. The husband, objectively is recording what he sees for us as he tries to ascertain from minimal information what exactly is going on with his wife and Franck. Because what he relates to us is so devoid of emotional coloring it is as if he is an alien presence and will require human intervention to make sense of what he is seeing.

As you can tell from the opening quote our narrator is aware of structure like an engineer or an architect would describe a man-made structure. Mathematics also plays a role, especially geometry. The narrator is comfortable using mathematical terms to describe what he is seeing. ”The base supporting the table consists of a slender triple stem whose strands separate to converge again, coiling (in three vertical planes through the axis of the system) into three similar volutes whose lower whorls rest on the ground and are bound together by a ring placed a little higher on the curve.”

He over describes what he sees down to the most insignificant detail as if he is afraid of missing some miniscule nuance that will be the key to the puzzle. He watches his wife comb her hair.

”The brush descends the length of the loose hair with a faint noise something between the sound of a breath and a crackle. No sooner has it reached the bottom than it quickly rises again toward the head, where the whole surface of its bristles sinks in before gliding down over the black mass again. The brush is a bone-colored oval whose short hands disappears almost entirely in the hand firmly gripping it.
Half the hair hangs down the back, the other hand pulls the other half over one shoulder. The head leans to the right, offering the hair more readily to the brush. Each time the latter lands at the top of its cycle behind the nape of the neck, the head leans farther to the right and then rises again with an effort, while the right hand, holding the brush moves the opposite direction. The left hand, which loosely confines the hair between the wrist, the palm and the fingers, releases it for a second and then closes on it again, gathering the strands together with a firm, mechanical gesture, while the brush continues its course to the extreme tips of the hair.”

This scene goes on for several more sentences revealing nothing that gets him closer to understanding if his wife is in fact cheating on him. Most men when watching their wife comb her hair, especially long hair, would find it a sensual experience. His objectivity is depriving him from even seeing her as a sexually desirable creature.

Roland Barthes writes an introduction to this book and does such a splendid job describing the writing structure of Alain Robbe-Grillet. His writing has no alibis, no resonance, no depth, keeping to the surface of things, examining without emphasis, favoring no one quality at the expense of another--it is as far as possible from poetry, or from ‘poetic’ prose. It does not explode, this language, or explore, nor it is obliged to charge upon the object and pluck from the very heart of its substance the one ambiguous name that will sum it up forever.

Alain Robbe-Grillet

I felt this growing unease as I continued to read this book. The narrator wants to know if his wife is unfaithful, but it is unclear what that will mean to him beyond knowing yet another fact. Is he violent? Will the emotion unexpressed suddenly become uncontrollable? I do know that he will continue to record what he sees, relentlessly, trying to find something that will let him assemble the facts into known truths. A truly unusual reading experience that I found strangely invigorating. I have no qualms about reading the second novella In The Labyrinth. In fact I feel like I need to read more just to fully comprehend what exactly Alain Robbe-Grillet is trying to tell us.
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
July 1, 2018
I can imagine the narrator being a well-made robot, carefully noticing every detail of the object it is asked to supervise, but unable to put into words the emotions of the observer, let alone the purpose of the observation.

I get detailed summaries of the dinner seating arrangements of the narrator's wife and a friend of the family, Franck (whose wife is absent for health reasons). I get perfect descriptions of her movements, and plenty of rational ideas explaining why she might be running late when she is out. I see the shadows change as the sun moves across the tropical mansion, and I register the sharp contrasts as well as the the smooth transitions of light. I hear every noise, and I dwell on the possible causes for those sounds, but they remain inexplicable and unexplained.

The only reason I know it is a jealous husband, and not a robot, writing an anxious account of his wife's behaviour is that I make a linguistic, semantic connection between the blinds, les jalousies, that are opened and closed frequently to offer various degrees of transparency into the room of the observed woman, and the other meaning of the word "la jalousie", jealousy.

An interesting novel experiment, displaying human anxiety by consciously omitting any reference to it, by deliberately just showing the surface under which all emotions are hidden.

The novel closes in the pitch darkness of a tropical night, crickets making an intense noise that envelopes the house and the garden. Nothing strange about that.

And yet, it is a chilling feeling. As I close the novel, I am worried. But like a robot just reporting the facts, I can't find any particular reason for that, or at least none that derives from the text and not from my own imagination, so I will close the review with the uncertain, unsure statement that NOTHING HAPPENED!
Profile Image for FotisK.
351 reviews156 followers
March 7, 2019
Ομολογώ πως αυτό το βιβλίο δεν το είχα ακουστά, ενώ τον συγγραφέα του τον γνώριζα με τη διπλή ιδιότητά του ως εκπροσώπου του λογοτεχνικού ρεύματος Nouveau Roman και -πρώτιστα- ως σεναριογράφου τού εμβληματικού "Πέρυσι στο Μαρίενμπαντ".

Χρειάστηκε να διαβάσω κάποιες συνεντεύξεις του εκνευριστικά φειδωλού σε επαίνους (και απολαυστικά πληθωρικού σε ψόγους) Ναμπόκοφ, ο οποίος μεταξύ των ελαχίστων συγχρόνων συγγραφέων που αποδεχόταν ως μείζονες συμπεριλάμβανε τους Μπόρχες και Ρομπ-Γκριγιέ. Η μεν πρώτη επιλογή απολύτως κατανοητή. Όσον αφορά τη δεύτερη, απαιτούσε από μέρους μου περαιτέρω διερεύνηση. Η ευκαιρία δόθηκε στο Παζάρι Βιβλίου, με τη "Ζήλια".

Σε πρώτη επαφή, ο τίτλος προϊδεάζει για κάτι διφορούμενο, δεδομένου πως στα γαλλικά το "Jalousie" σημαίνει ζήλια, αλλά ταυτόχρονα και γρίλια παραθύρου. Και ναι μεν πολλές οι γρίλιες στο μικρό το δέμας κείμενο, καμία όμως ζήλια δεν θα βρει εκ πρώτης ο αναγνώστης (περισσότερα για το θέμα αυτό στη συνέχεια).

Καθετί έχει τη σημασία του σε αυτό το κείμενο που είναι αυστηρά γεωμετρικό, όπως το σπίτι στο οποίο εκτυλίσσεται η δράση ή, καλύτερα, η απουσία δράσης. Επιστρέφω όμως, προς ώρας, στον Ναμπόκοφ, ο οποίος προσφέρει εν αγνοία και απουσία του ένα κλειδί κατανόησης, κι ας μου συγχωρεθεί η παρέκβαση αυτή, αλλά νομίζω πως έχει νόημα.

Συγκεκριμένα, αναφέρει κάπου στις Διαλέξεις του πως είναι ανούσιο (χαρακτηριστικό ανώριμου αναγνώστη) να ευτελίζεις ένα κείμενο όπως η "Άννα Καρένινα" αναφέροντας το προφανές: πως πρόκειται δηλαδή για ένα βιβλίο για τη μοιχεία, το προδομένο πάθος που οδηγεί στον θάνατο κλπ. Είναι πολύ πιο χρήσιμο για την κατανόησή του -σε όλη την καλλιτεχνική του έκταση- να έχεις δίπλα σου έναν χάρτη των σιδηροδρόμων της Ρωσίας της εποχής εκείνη (όποιος γνωρίζει την κατάληξη της ηρωίδας καταλαβαίνει το γιατί). Με αυτό το -σαφώς υπερβολικό- σχόλιό του ήθελε να δείξει στον ώριμο αναγνώστη πως η γοητεία της λογοτεχνίας (και συνάμα του συγγραφικού οραματισμού) κρύβεται στο επιμέρους, στη λεπτομέρεια και όχι στο προφανές και στο κραυγαλέο.

Επανέρχομαι στο βιβλίο του Ρομπ-Γκριγιέ και στον λεπτομερή χάρτη που παρατίθεται στις τελευταίες σελίδες του, ο οποίος χωρίς υπερβολή κρύβει το κλειδί της κατανόησης του κρυπτικού και ελλειπτικού αυτού κειμένου που περισσότερο υπονοεί παρά επεξηγεί. Κάθε κεφάλαιο όπως ξεκινά δεν φέρει κάποιον διακριτό τίτλο. Αντιθέτως, η αρκτική πρόταση σχετίζεται άμεσα με τον περίκλειστο χώρο και με το πώς το φως δημιουργεί σκιές, φωτίζοντας ή σκιάζοντας το εσωτερικό του και τους ενοικούντες, εφόσον αυτοί βρίσκονται εντός του. Αυτή η εναλλαγή αποτελεί αναπόσπαστο στοιχείο της δράσης (ή της απουσίας της), μεταθέτοντας το κέντρο βάρους από τα άτομα στον χώρο και τούμπαλιν.

Όχι, σε αυτό το μυθιστόρημα δεν είναι οι ανθρώπινοι χαρακτήρες στο επίκεντρο, τουλάχιστον όχι στο πρώτο επίπεδο της ανάγνωσης. Από τις πρώτες κιόλας σελίδες είχα την έντονη αίσθηση πως δεν υπάρχει αφηγητής-πρόσωπο, αλλά πως το ίδιο το σπίτι, με τους διαδρόμους, τα δωμάτια, τις γρίλιες του, παρακολουθεί με άγρυπνο μάτι τους ενοίκους του (όχι όμως με μεταφυσική οπτική), εξ ου και το απολύτως αποστασιοποιημένο, ψυχρό και αδιάφορο προς τις ψυχολογικές τους μεταπτώσεις ύφος γραφής.

Ακόμα καλύτερα, είχα και έχω την αίσθηση της κινηματογραφικής γραφής (η δεύτερη, εξίσου σημαντική ιδιότητα του σεναριογράφου/σκηνοθέτη Ρομπ-Γκριγιέ), όπου ο αναγνώστης θεάται αποκλειστικά και τίποτα παραπάνω από εκείνα που θα παρατηρούσε στην περίπτωση που ο σκηνοθέτης-συγγραφέας είχε τοποθετήσει κάμερες στο σπίτι. Μια κάμερα θα ακολουθήσει/καταγράψει την όποια δράση (ή, ξαναλέω, την απουσία της) τους διαλόγους (εφόσον υπάρχουν) και τίποτε παραπάνω από αυτό. Δεν θα ερμηνεύσει, δεν θα εξηγήσει, δεν θα αναλύσει, δεν θα υπεισέλθει, το σημαντικότερο, στην ψυχοσύνθεση των ηρώων.

Ο ρόλος της κάμερας, του απρόσωπου και αποστασιοποιημένου "οφθαλμού, ος τα πανθ' ορά" δεν είναι ταυτόχρονα και "δίκης οφθαλμός", εκείνος του κριτή, του παντογνώστη. Όλα όσα λαμβάνουν χώρα εντός των ορίων της δράσης της, στο εσωτερικό τού σπιτιού, είναι όλα όσα θα χρειαστεί και ο αναγνώστης και τίποτε περισσότερο.

Και εδώ ερχόμαστε ξανά στον ρόλο του συγγραφέα-σκηνοθέτη-παρατηρητή που παίζει ένα απόλυτα εγκεφαλικό παιχνίδι συμμετοχής/ συνενοχής με τον υποψιασμένο ενεργό αναγνώστη και όχι με την παθητική εκδοχή του που έχει συνηθίσει να αναμένει μασημένη τροφή, εύκολα συναισθήματα, γραμμική αφήγηση που ξεκινά-συνεχίζει-καταλήγει.

Το αφηγηματικό ύφος που έχει επιλέξει ο συγγραφέας είναι απόλυτο, υπαινικτικό, αεροστεγές και κλειστοφοβικό. Δεν παραχωρεί, δεν διευκολύνει, δεν ευχαριστεί. Αντιθέτως, ξεκινά και ολοκληρώνει με ψυχρό υπολογιστικό βλέμμα μικροσκοπίου, επιμερίζοντας τον χώρο και τον χρόνο μεταξύ σπιτιού και ενοίκων.

Δεν είναι τυχαίο που ως το τέλος αμφιβάλλουμε περί της ταυτότητας του αφηγητή, για τον οποίο κάποιες μικρές ενδείξεις μόνο υπάρχουν (πάλι ο χώρος: η θέση της 3ης καρέκλας και του 3ου πιάτου στο τραπέζι), προκειμένου να στοιχειοθετηθεί έστω και αδρομερώς ο τίτλος του βιβλίου ως "Ζήλια". Μα κι αυτός ο άνθρωπος (σύζυγος) περισσότερο παρατηρητής παρά μετέχων είναι, χαρακτηριζόμενος από τις ιδιότητες της "γρίλιας" παρά εκείνες ενός ανθρώπινου οργανισμού που αντιδρά συναισθηματικά ή όπως άλλως στα τεκταινόμενα.

Σε τελική ανάλυση, ουδεμία η διαφορά για τον αναγνώστη, είτε πρόκειται για τον σύζυγο, είτε για την κάμερα, είτε για το σπίτι, καθότι ο συγγραφέας είναι απλά…απών ως παντογνώστης παρατηρητής που περιγράφει τον ψυχικό κόσμο των χαρακτήρων του όπως τους έχει σκεφτεί, οδηγώντας τους κάπου. Η αίσθηση που αποκόμισα ήταν, αντιθέτως, η εξής: Ο Ρομπ-Γκριγιέ στην καρέκλα του σκηνοθέτη, ως Αριστοτέλειο "πρώτο κινούν ακίνητον", έχοντας δώσει ακριβέστατες οδηγίες για το πώς θα στηθεί το σκηνικό (το σπίτι) και το πώς θα κινηθούν οι ηθοποιοί εντός του (για ό,τι συμβαίνει παραέξω μόνο εικασίες μπορούμε να κάνουμε), εν συνεχεία απλά εξαφανίζεται από το προσκήνιο.

Η κάμερα παραμένει στημένη εκεί να παρακολουθεί τα πρόσωπα, τις σκιές, τον χρόνο να περνάει, ενώ το τ��λικό μοντάζ αρκείται στο να αλλοιώσει τη γραμμική πορεία του χρόνου της αφήγησης ενώνοντας κομμάτια και παραλείποντας ακόμα περισσότερα. Και μετά, οδηγούμαστε στο ζενερίκ και τίποτα δεν έχει αλλάξει, αν και τίποτα δεν είναι και το ίδιο, καθώς τα πιόνια (έμψυχα και άψυχα) έχουν μετακινηθεί ελαφρώς στη σκακιέρα, αλλά σε χρόνο και τρόπο εντελώς υποκειμενικό και ανοιχτό σε ερμηνείες.

Για την περαιτέρω κατανόηση του κειμένου ίσως βοηθήσει να αξιολογήσουμε το ύφος του Ρομπ-Γκριγιέ σε σχέση με το σημαίνον και το σημαινόμενο (Σημειωτική): Το μεν πρώτο (κατά τον Έκο) οργανώνει τους ήχους, το δε δεύτερο τις ιδέες. Η πειραματική χρήση της γλώσσας στη λογοτεχνία "διεξάγει πόλεμο" σε δύο επίπεδα: στο επίπεδο του σημαίνοντος ως παιχνίδι των λέξεων (και μέσω της καταστροφής και αναδιάταξης των λέξεων, στην αναδιοργάνωση των ιδεών), και στο παιχνίδι με τις ιδέες (στο επίπεδο του σημαινομένου). Ο Τζόυς, ο Πίντσον και ο Ρομπ-Γκριγιέ από τη μία πλευρά παίζουν με τις λέξεις, ο Μπόρχες, από την άλλη, με τις ιδέες.

Τα αποτελέσματα είναι εξίσου ενδιαφέροντα και λυτρωτικά, καθώς ανοίγουν διαφορετικές…γρίλιες στο μυαλό, αφήνοντας να χυθεί άπλετο το λογοτεχνικό φως – καλύτερα ακόμα, οι σκιάσεις, οι εναλλαγές και οι λεπτές αποχρώσεις. Τελικά όλα εκείνα τα άνευ ευρύτερης σημασίας, ουδεμίας κοινωνικής ωφελιμότητας, μηδαμινής χρηστικής αξίας, μα γι' αυτό ακριβώς υπέροχα σωματίδια που συνιστούν το πυριφλεγέθον όραμα της Λογοτεχνίας.

Profile Image for Nickolas the Kid.
301 reviews70 followers
September 4, 2019
Η “Ζήλια” είναι ένας λογοτεχνικός γρίφος, ένα συμμετρικό αρχιτεκτονικό κατασκεύασμα ενός απόλυτα ευφυούς δημιουργού. Ένα απαιτητικό κείμενο που χρειάζεται προσήλωση από τον αναγνώστη αλλά και επιμονή μπροστά στις εξαντλητικές περιγραφές και τις λεπτομέρειες που παραθέτει ο Γκριγιέ.

Η Ζήλια είναι ένα λογοπαίγνιο ή η πεμπτουσία μιας καινοτόμου ιδέας. Ειναι η ζήλια ενός αόρατου αφηγητή/συζύγου ή η γρίλια που λειτουργεί σαν ημιπερατή μεμβράνη του φωτός και της όρασης;

Η Ζήλια είναι μια μικρή ιστορία, η οποία κάθε φορά παρατίθεται με μικρές παραλλαγές, με νέες λεπτομέρειες, με αποκαλύψεις, σε σημείο που ο αναγνώστης χάνεται σε μια δύσβατη περιοχή όπου η πραγματικότητα εμπλέκεται με τις σκέψεις ενός - απατημένου- συζύγου.

Αναμετρηθείτε λοιπον με τον Πάπα του Νέου Μυθιστορήματος και την Ζήλια / Γρίλια και δώστε την δική σας ερμηνεία στο μικρό αυτό, αλλά τόσο περίεργο ανάγνωσμα.
Απλά 5/5 ...
Profile Image for Annetius.
301 reviews82 followers
December 28, 2021
Δεν έχω καταλάβει ακριβώς για ποιο λόγο μου άρεσε τόσο πολύ αυτό το βιβλίο. Είναι ένα βιβλίο αυτιστικό, απρόσωπο, κενό από συναισθήματα, στεγνό από πλοκή, ένα βιβλίο φαινομενικά «άδειο» από οτιδήποτε έχουμε στο μυαλό μας ότι μπορεί να χαρακτηρίζει ένα μυθιστόρημα. Ένα βιβλίο όπου τελικά δε συμβαίνει τίποτα.

Δεν έχω τη γνώση και τα ερμηνευτικά εργαλεία που έχουν πχ οι μελετητές των λογοτεχνικών ρευμάτων και εν προκειμένω του Nouveau Roman, πρόδρομος του οποίου υπήρξε ο Γκριγιέ. Όμως κάπως σαν να ενώνονται οι ψηφίδες με αυτά που έπεσαν κατά καιρούς στην αντίληψή μου. Το L'Année dernière à Marienbad του Alain Resnais με είχε ξενίσει πολύ όταν το είχα δει∙ μια αισθητικά άψογη κινηματογραφική δημιουργία, μια ταινία haute couture όπως συνηθίζω να λέω για τις ψαγμενιές της τέχνης γενικότερα∙ παρόλα αυτά μου εντυπώθηκε τόσο στο μυαλό ώστε να το ανασύρω αβίαστα από τη μνήμη μου διαβάζοντας τη ζήλια του Γκριγιέ. Ο τελευταίος είχε γράψει άλλωστε το σενάριο της ταινίας και ναι, είναι απολύτως κατανοητό και εμφανές. Και εκεί ένα τριπάκι μνήμης, ένας αφηγηματικός λαβύρινθος όπου εξαλείφεται ο χρόνος.

Η Ζήλια του Γκριγιέ πρόκειται ενδεχομένως για ένα υπαινικτικό παιχνίδι μνήμης∙ ποτέ δεν είμαστε σίγουροι αν ο αόρατος αφηγητής –ο αφηγητής-ολόγραμμα– περιγράφει κάτι που συμβαίνει τώρα, κάτι που συνέβη στο παρελθόν ή κάτι που πρόκειται να συμβεί αργότερα. Η μνήμη άλλωστε είναι αυτό: μια μούφα, μια επιλεκτική κυρία που ��πλέκει τα μπούτια της με τον χρόνο, τον καταρρίπτει και τα ξεδιαλέγει ατάκτως και με ασυνέπεια, όπως νομίζει. Το διακύβευμα στηρίζεται στο λογοπαίγνιο και τη διττότητα της έννοιας «jalousie» στα γαλλικά: ζήλια/γρίλια. Παρόλο που το βιβλίο φέρει τελικά τον τίτλο «Η ζήλια», η λέξη αυτή δεν εμφανίζεται ποτέ μέσα στο κείμενο παρά υπονοείται μέσα από τη μετατόπιση των περσίδων, της γρίλιας, που αφήνει κάθε φορά φωτεινές και σκοτεινές λωρίδες, που φωτίζει ή σκιάζει κάθε φορά ένα μεγαλύτερο ή μικρότερο μέρος της «θέας» μας προς την πραγματικότητα. Είναι εντυπωσιακό το παιχνίδι ύφους στο βιβλίο μέσα από τις γρίλιες. Η λεπτομέρεια της παρουσίασης του χώρου, των κινήσεων, της γεωμετρικής και ακριβούς περιγραφής προκαλεί αμηχανία, ενόχληση έως και μαζοχιστική ευχαρίστηση, αναλόγως τον αναγνώστη.

Ο τόπος είναι μια αποικιοκρατικής αισθητικής έπαυλη κάπου στην Αφρική. Ένα «μπόι», ο μαύρος υπηρέτης, περιφέρεται απρόσωπα στρώνοντας και ξεστρώνοντας ένα τραπέζι στη βεράντα με τρεις ή τέσσερις καρέκλες. Το ένα πρόσωπο ξέρουμε πως πάντα λείπει αλλά συγχρόνως δεν είμαστε ποτέ σίγουροι για το αν είναι εκεί παρόν και το τρίτο πρόσωπο –υποθέτουμε πως είναι ο αφηγητής, ο προσβεβλημένος από τη ζήλια παρατηρητής. Τα δύο πρόσωπα είναι πάντως σίγουρα εκεί, ο Φρανκ και η Α… Μεταξύ των δύο είναι που συμβαίνει κάτι, κάτι ανείπωτο, κάτι φανταστικό και αόρατο αφού μας μπερδεύουν οι… γρίλιες και η ζήλια.

Το βιβλίο αυτό το βρήκα βαθιά αισθησιακό, εξωτικό –προφανώς λόγω περιβάλλοντος–, ψυχρά μυστηριώδες και μυστηριακό. Ένας απλωμένος κυριλέ αισθησιασμός , σαν μια κομψή, απόλυτα στιλάτη γυναίκα, ντυμένη με μαύρες διαφάνειες και τούλια, με τον διεγερτικό ήχο των τακουνιών τ��ς να αντηχεί καθώς κινείται με ένα ποτήρι στο χέρι, μόνη σε μια βεράντα με γύψινα κολωνάκια.

[Δε θα το πρότεινα εύκολα και σε οποιονδήποτε. Είναι πολύ ιδιαίτερο, ειδικού γούστου βιβλίο.]
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
855 reviews2,129 followers
September 6, 2015

La Jalousie

The word "jalousie" (the French title of this novel) has two meanings: one being "jealousy" (which was given to the English title); the other being "shutters" or "louvres":

"...a blind with adjustable horizontal slats for admitting light and air while excluding direct sun and rain."

Both French meanings are equally vital to the appreciation of the novel. To some extent, they've been lost in translation.

A louvre is a shutter or blind. We look through louvres. They selectively submit and admit the objects of the outside world to our scrutiny. They limit and shape our gaze.

Louvres and lovers share their etymology. Just as a louvre might be a blind, so might a lover be blind. As Shakespeare said:

"Love is blind, and lovers cannot see / The pretty follies that themselves commit."



Centipedes and Louvres

The power of this novel is in the set-up, rather than the character development or the plot.

We see a colonial plantation farm house in almost forensic detail. There's even a plan showing the location of rooms, doors, windows, even the furniture (not to forget the dark stain left by a centipede squashed on the wall of the dining room). The book could almost be stage directions for a theatrical work.

Robbe-Grillet places the characters in this house around meal time or cocktail hour. We seem to observe them through the louvres. However, someone appears to be missing. There's a vacant seat in the lounge room and an empty place at the dining table.

Does it belong to the husband of the female protagonist? (Is she even married?) Is the husband the omniscient third person narrator? Is he the one apparently looking through the louvres? Is he spying on his wife? Does he suspect she is having an affair? Is he jealous of his married neighbour Franck (whose wife never appears, because their young child is at home ill)? Does this ostensible illicit couple even do anything that suggests a relationship? Do they only seem culpable, because we (as vicarious peeping toms) attribute blame to them?


Onset Repetition

Robbe-Grillet carefully selects both the content and the sequence of his story-telling to dramatise this set-up.

We read the half dozen most significant aspects of his story several times. He plays with repetition. But each iteration preserves the old perspective and adds a new one.

Thus, meaning for the reader is cumulative, a result of accretion, even if at the end of the novel, we're still not sure what really happened or what the real meaning was.


Utter Unconnected Fragments

Robbe-Grillet gives us a clue to his intentions in the narrator's comment on a native song being sung by a road worker:

"The singing is at moments so little like what is ordinarily called a song, a complaint, a refrain, that the western listener is justified in wondering if something quite different is involved. The sounds, despite apparent repetitions, do not seem related by any musical law. There is no tune, really, no melody, no rhythm. It is as if the man were content to utter unconnected fragments as an accompaniment to his work."

By the end of the novel, these unconnected fragments have nevertheless cohered into a discrete work.

Inevitably, for a piece of metafiction, there is also a story within the story, or a novel within the novel, an African novel (or at least a novel set in colonial Africa).

Two characters, the ostensible lovers, comment on it, while their own story seems to assume the shape of its narrative. Franck, describes the husband in the novel in a sentence that we don't hear in its entirety, that "ends in 'take apart' or 'take a part' or 'break apart', 'break a heart', 'heart of darkness', or something of the kind."

The novel is an exercise in style, one of fragmentation and defragmentation. Can the reader reassemble what the author has dis(as)sembled?

The narrative isn't supplied to us pre-digested and easy to consume or swallow. Much is left unsaid. Even more is filtered out by the louvres, the blinds, la jalousie. It is forever oblique, raw and uncooked. We have to do our own mastication. We are like one of the characters peering into its meaning:

"He seems to be looking at something at the bottom of the little stream - an animal, a reflection, a lost object."

The novel doesn't so much tell a story as suggest one. We're permitted to sit at the table. We are silent eavesdroppers on the other side of the louvres. What is absent (and not described) is just as important as what is present (and described). Inference is just as important as implication. The imagination supplies what the senses don't.


A Proliferation of Possibilities

Like the narrative and characters of the African novel, the twists and turns of the primary story construct:

"...construct a different probable outcome starting from [each] new supposition...Other possibilities are offered, during the course of the book, which lead to different endings. The variations are extremely numerous; the variations of these, still more so. They seem to enjoy multiplying these choices, exchanging smiles, carried away by their enthusiasm, probably a little intoxicated by this proliferation..."

Robbe-Grillet's experiments proliferate in just over 100 short pages. They're more likely to appeal to fans of post-modernism. Readers have to tease out the meaning, and even then we don't know whether we're right. However, if we remain open-minded, tolerant and patient, we too can be intoxicated.




Alain Robbe-Grillet's Lecture at San Francisco University in April 1989 [part 3 of 10]

Profile Image for Erik F..
51 reviews211 followers
June 3, 2015

A woman and her male friend sit on her porch, having drinks and discussing a novel. Her suspicious husband (?) watches them through a nearby window's Venetian blinds (get it? Jalousie = jealousy and a window with slatted blinds! Let's hear it for French puns!). Husband (?) fantasizes about the friend's death. Construction workers repair a decaying bridge on the edge of the property. Woman writes a letter. Friend comes over for dinner. Friend squashes a centipede. Woman combs her hair. Crickets chirp. Repeat ad nauseam in fragmentary, temporally disjointed ways, then mix in some nonsense about geometric arrangements of banana trees and the quotidian movement of a column's shadow and that's pretty much this novel in a nutshell. Unfortunately, I lost interest in cracking this nut around the 40-page mark (meaning it was quite a long, irritating journey through the remaining 60).

Before I continue, let it be known that I'm absolutely in favor of cryptic, challenging, experimental literature ... but this novel simply bored me. Any sort of fascination I might have developed toward its circular rhythms, its enigmatic understatements, its sinister atmospheres, was quickly stifled by Robbe-Grillet's mundane repetitiveness and Sahara-dry prose — which was probably his intention. In his essay Objective Literature, Roland Barthes writes:

"By his exclusive and tyrannical appeal to the sense of sight, Robbe-Grillet undoubtedly intends the assassination of the object, at least as literature has traditionally represented it. In literature, at least, we live, without even taking the fact into account, in a world based on an organic, not a visual order. Therefore the first step of this knowing murder must be to isolate objects, to alienate them as much from their usual functions as from our own biology. [Robbe-Grillet] allows them a merely superficial relation to their situation in space [and] deprives them of all possibility of metaphor ... he intends nothing less than a definitive interrogation of the object, a cross-examination from which all lyric impulses are rigorously excluded.

... Robbe-Grillet's purpose is to establish the novel on the surface: once you can set its inner nature, its "interiority," between parentheses, then objects in space, and the circulation of men between them, are promoted to the rank of subjects. The novel becomes man's direct experience of what surrounds him without his being able to shield himself with a psychology, a metaphysic, or a psychoanalytic method in his combat with the objective world he discovers."

While these quotes help me to better understand the novel on a fundamental level, I must admit that the concepts don't appeal to me at all, and are at odds with what I crave from literature. I won't pretend to have a thorough understanding of the nouveau roman or of Robbe-Grillet's place in the evolution of the modern literary novel, but I have a feeling that my emotional and aesthetic sensibilities just aren't meant to be in step with the proponents and enthusiasts of the aforementioned movement and author. In fact, the only positive remark I can make regarding this book is that there are times when it does an impressive job of conjuring its lone setting; it made me feel as though I had been transported to an exotic, albeit claustrophobic and disturbing, location somewhere beyond the limits of reality. This, to me, is priceless.

Having read none of his other books, my only prior experience with Robbe-Grillet's work had been in the realm of cinema: L'Année dernière à Marienbad (1961), for which he wrote the screenplay. This unnerving, dreamlike film does share some similarities with La Jalousie — except for the fact that I loved it! Perhaps Robbe-Grillet's experiments with temporality and objectivity are better-suited to the visual possibilities of filmmaking — someday I'll give his own directorial efforts a chance. Until then, it will take some rather hefty convincing to encourage my exploration of the rest of his literary output.

Profile Image for Marc.
3,040 reviews1,046 followers
December 29, 2020
I'm in doubt about this book. "La jalousie" is a fascinating experiment in writing a story in which hardly anything happens, and in which the I-person is completely removed from the script. What remains is the meticulous, constantly repetitive description of the contact between the person that proves to be the wife of the story telling person and their neighbor Franck; everything takes place in the tropical conditions of an unnamed colony.

Only very gradually one becomes conscious that the "author" looks as if through the 'blinds' (in French the 'jalousies', in English that meaning is lost) at what happens between the two; of course, he suspects a relationship. This is a fascinating read. But then the downside begins: the poverty of describing only the outside, both of people and of things. It is as with the surrealism/absurdism preceding the "nouveau roman": it's a clever experiment, but what does it really add?
Profile Image for Steven Godin.
2,319 reviews2,193 followers
May 25, 2020
UPDATE 04/20 - Reading this for the second time I found it much better, thus I've bettered it's score. Will certainly now read more of him.

FIRST THOUGHTS 06/19 - below.

Still don't really know what to make of this. It's no doubt cleverly done and highly original, and it reminded me slightly of Georges Perec, with its endless descriptions of rooms, walls, doors, corners, corridors, being used in a symbolic way. Things are repeated, but each time from a slightly different angle, but what everything amounts up to, is left to the reader to interpret, as Robbe-Grillet doesn't lay all his cards out on the table. He certainly writes outside of the box. The construction of the story is most striking, almost entirely written as a stream of banal descriptive statements, like a series of stage directions. For a novel named after an emotion though, there is no emotional content whatsoever, we don't know how anyone is feeling, which lets it down in some ways. It would benefit reading again, parts may come together that I didn't notice before. One thing is for sure - Robbe-Grillet does not follow convention. Vladimir Nabokov and Roland Barthes both loved it. Shame I can't say the same.
Profile Image for Narjes Dorzade.
270 reviews248 followers
May 28, 2018
رمانی پروست گونه سرشار از اصوات ، آدم ها ، حرکات ، قاشق ها ، چنگال ها ، دست ها ، چرخش ها ، جزئیات و جزئیات
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,008 reviews4,006 followers
September 18, 2011
A key text of the nouveau roman, an unnamed ‘all-seeing eye’ narrator navigates his way around an African banana plantation, obsessively describing a potential affair between Franck and A . . . in a state of continual present (or ‘pressent’ as Tom McCarthy quotes from Joyce in his introduction). In French ‘jalousie’ refers to a window, making it harder in English to position the narrator as a jealous husband, crucial for decoding the book.

The detailed geometrical descriptions of the house and its inhabitants form its emotional nucleus: one can imagine the distraught husband poised outside taking notes and embellishing details. This makes all the action and description unreliable, giving the book its detective novel reputation: is it possible to make sense of all the repetitions, random scene breaks, contradictory sentences, squashed centipedes, apparent car fires and form a coherent plotline?

Look upon it as an IKEA self-assembly novel. Right now, I only have the scaffolding erected, I still have weeks’ worth of drilling hammering and screwing to do before anything satisfies.
Profile Image for Jeff Jackson.
Author 4 books463 followers
June 18, 2012
I was overwhelmed by this novel - the tense repetitions, disorienting looping plot, descriptions suffused with seething emotion - but anything I could say has already been captured by Tom McCarthy's brilliant introduction. So I'm pasting that below.

* * *

THE OBITUARIES Alain Robbe-Grillet received in the British press depicted him as a significant but ultimately eccentric novelist, whose work forswore any attempt to he "believable" or to engage with the real world in a "realistic" way. In taking this line, the obituarists displayed an intellectual shortcoming typical of Anglo-American empiricism, and displayed it on two fronts: first, in their failure to understand that literary "realism" is itself a construct as laden with artifice as any other; and second, in missing the glaring fact that Robbe-Grillet's novels are actually ultrarealist, shot through at every level with the sheer quiddity of the environments to which they attend so faithfully. What we see happening in them, again and again, is space and matter inscribing themselves on consciousness, whose task, reciprocally, is to accommodate space and matter. As Robbe-Grillet was himself fond of declaring: "No art without world."

This type of intense congress with the real can be seen even in the author's shortest offerings. In the three-page story "The Dressmaker's Dummy" (which opens the collection Snapshots [1962]), we are shown a coffeepot, a four-legged table, a waxed tablecloth, a mannequin, and, crucially, a large rectangular mirror that reflects the room's objects--which include a mirror-fronted wardrobe that in turn redoubles everything. Thus we are made to navigate a set of duplications, modifications, and distortions that are at once almost impossibly complex and utterly accurate: This is how rooms actually look to an observer, how their angles, surfaces, and sight lines impose themselves on his or her perception. No other action takes place in the piece, which nonetheless ends with a quite stunning "twist," as we are told that the coffeepot's base bears a picture of an owl "with two large, somewhat frightening eyes," but, due to the coffeepot's presence, this image cannot be seen. What waits for us at the story's climax, its gaze directed back toward our own, is a blind spot.

In Jealousy (1957), this blind spot is the novel's protagonist. Through a meticulously--indeed, obsessively--described house set in the middle of a tropical banana plantation moves what filmmakers call a POV, or point of view, a camera-and-mic-like "node" of seeing and hearing. The one thing not seen or heard by this node is the node itself. Phrases such as "It takes a glance at her empty though stained plate to discover" and "Memory succeeds, moreover, in reconstituting" beg the questions: Whose glance? Whose memory? The answer, it can pretty easily be inferred from the novel's context, is that it is the master of the house's glance and memory, his movements and reflections that we are experiencing as he watches his wife, identified only as "A ...," negotiate an affair with the neighboring plantation's owner, Franck. The effect of stating the hero's subjectivity negatively, by implication rather than by affirmation, is eerie and troubling: His gaze becomes like that of "The Shape" in John Carpenter's Halloween, or the entity in David Lynch's Lost Highway who stalks a maritally troubled house at night armed with a camera. When we read that "it is only at a distance of less than a yard" that the back of A ...'s head appears a certain way, we realize with a shudder that her jealous husband is creeping up on her from behind. He is observing her, in this particular instance, through the slats of a blind (or jalousie in French); and we, through an ingenious if untranslatable linguistic duplication, are watching her through two jalousies: a double blind.

The novel is saturated with a sense of geometry. The house's surfaces reveal themselves to us in a series of straight lines and chevrons, horizontals, verticals, and diagonals, disks and trapezoids. The banana trees, as green as jealousy itself, are laid out in quincunxes, as are the workers who replace the bridge's rectangular beams. Geometric order is pitted against formlessness and entropy: On the far side of the valley, toward Franck's house, is a patch in which the narrator tells us, using language reminiscent of Othello's, that "confusion has gained the ascendancy." As A ... combs her hair, the struggle between geometry and chaos is replayed: With a "mechanical gesture," the oval of the brush and the straight lines of its teeth pass through the "black mass" on her head, imposing order on it, just as the "mechanical cries" of nocturnal animals shape the darkness beyond the veranda by indicating each one's "trajectory through the night." Geometry usually wins: Even the "tangled skein" of insects buzzing around the lamp reveals itself, when observed at length by the husband, to be "describing more or less flattened ellipses in horizontal planes or at slight angles." But an ellipse is not merely a type of orbit; it also designates a syntactic omission, a typographic gap. What's missing from this geometry is A ..., the character whose very name contains an ellipse: During this particular scene, she is off in town with Franck. As the narrator waits for her to come home, the lamp hisses, like a green-eyed monster.

Enmeshed with the book's spatial logic is a temporal one. The second time we see the shadow of the column fall on the veranda, it has lengthened in a clockwise direction, the geometry of the house effectively forming a sundial. In a filmed interview last year with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist (Robbe-Grillet's influence on contemporary visual art is enormous), the author ponders Hegel's paradox that to say "Now it is day" cannot be wholly true if, a few hours later, one can equally truthfully declare "Now it is night," and notes that, for Hegel, the only true part of the statements is the word now. Why? Because it persists. The same word punctuates Jealousy like the regular chime of a clock: "Now the shadow of the column ..."; "Now the house is empty ..."; "... until the day breaks, now."

This is not to say that time moves forward in a straight line. Like Benjy in William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, Jealousy's narrator experiences time--or times--simultaneously. For Robbe-Grillet, who also made films, writing is like splicing together strips of celluloid to create a continual present. There are prolepses, analepses, loops, and repetitions (a process slyly mirrored in the staggering of the plantation cycle through the whole year such that all its phases "occur at the same time every day, and the periodical trivial incidents also repeat themselves simultaneously")--but the time is always "now." A delightful exchange between the husband and the servant boy, in which the latter answers a question as to when he was instructed to retrieve ice cubes from the pantry with an imprecise "now" (discerning in the question "a request to hurry"), carries this point home: All the book's actions and exchanges swelter in a stultifying, oppressive, and persistent present tense--what Joyce, in Finnegans Wake, calls "the pressant."

The only escape route from this pressant, from its simultaneity, its loops and repetitions, would be violence: for the narrator to perpetrate a crime passionel against A ... and, by murdering her, free them from the vicious circle of meals, cocktails, hair combing, spying. But this does not happen. Only the centipede dies: again and again and again. The venomous Scutigera serves as a meeting point for associations so overloaded that if it were a plug socket it would be smoking. During one of its many death scenes, the narrative cuts from the crackling of its dying scream as its many legs curl to the crackling sound made by the many teeth of A .. .'s brush running through her hair; then on to A ...'s fingers clenching the tablecloth in terror; from there to the same gesture played out across the bedsheet; then, finally, to Franck "jolting" and "driving" violently--a sexual image that resolves itself into a putative crash in which the plantation owner's burning car makes the bush crackle. As with Franck's car crash, posited and then erased, it seems that A ... has finally met a violent fate when, near the novel's end, we're shown a "reddish streak" running from the bedroom window to the veranda. But no sooner is it outlined than we are told that it "has always been there," and that A ... has decided it will not be painted out "for the moment." So the moment, the eternal now, persists, and she returns to sit at her desk as before.

A ... is a fantastic creation, a femme fatale to rival Lady Macbeth or Clytemnestra in terms of her castrating potency. Throughout the book, Robbe-Grillet associates her with the color green ("green eyes . .. green irises") and coldness: She serves ice cubes "each of which imprisons a bundle of silver needles in its heart." A twist rears its head when, after she and Franck return from their night in a hotel, she taunts Franck (whose sexuality has been associated with car engines from the outset) by saying, "You're not much of a mechanic, are you?"--words that cause him to grimace. Later, as they sit side by side, our attention is diverted to the metal ice bucket, "its lustre already frosted over." If A ... retreats from the narrator, she retreats from Franck as well, remaining inaccessible to both. Perhaps the literary female she resembles most is another A ...: Faulkner's Addie Bundren in As I Lay Dying, who, despite marriage and an extramarital affair, abides "refraining" and "recessional" beyond the reach of both husband and lover, and of words themselves. As Jealousy nears its end, A ..., like Addie, slips away into the "blank areas" of the book's geometry, spending more and more time "outside the field of vision," as though commandeering the narrator's blind spot for herself.

One of A ...'s main activities throughout the novel is to read and write. She and Franck use a novel, which they both have read and the narrator has not, as a cover to discuss their own situation right in front of him. They also exchange letters. The small spasms and convulsions of A ... 's hair as she sits at her writing table, busy hands hidden from view, lend the act of writing a sexual aura by implying that she could as easily be masturbating as ''erasing a stain or a badly chosen word." In this respect, there is something utterly perverse--doubly perverse--about her husband's perusal of her writing's residues, the fragments of letters left on the writing case's blotter. These, too, are geometric figures--"tiny lines, arcs, crosses, loops, etc."--but unlike the centipede whose form is marked so legibly across the wall {before being erased and reinscribed, over and over again), here "no complete letter can be made out, even in a mirror"; the text remains illegible.

In the interview with Obrist, Robbe-Grillet claimed that, whereas the novels of Balzac or Dickens do not require readers since they perform all the latter's work themselves, his own writing calls for active readers who will piece everything together. Each work is like an Airfix kit--or, more precisely, an IKEA one, since there is always one vital piece missing. The final letter we see A ... reading has come not from Franck but rather in "the last post from Europe," from an unknown correspondent. As she sets a blank leaf on her green blotter, removes her pen's cap, and bends forward to start writing, one more twist emerges: Within the self-reflexive geometries of Robbe-Griller's hall of mirrors, the ultimate blind spot just might be the reader.
223 reviews195 followers
April 17, 2012
Simply astonishing: I’ve never read anything remotely similar. To a very small extent a film like The Sixth Sense may carry a kernel of parallel in terms of narrative perspective, but this would only be in an implied, helicopter view point.

A plot of sorts is cobbled together of a few sparse events: A….., the mistress of a banana plantation in some hot non African country dines with a neighbour, Franck, whose wife and child are too ill to accompany him. Franck complains about car troubles, swats dead an enormous caterpillar, the two discuss a book they are reading and make plans to go to a port town several hours away for shopping. On the appointed day they drive out to the port, but ostensibly car troubles prevent them from returning that same night, and so they return the next day having overnighted at a hotel in the port town. End of story. Sound enticing? What do you mean No? Its very enticing. In fact, I had to read it twice to parse it apart. I didn’t succeed, fully.

The narrator here is nameless, faceless, and non-interactive with the rest of the cast (a chamber assemble at best). That the narrator is in fact real, hinges only on the dinner plate laid out for him/her at mealtimes. Inbuilt preconceptions on my part contexutualise this unknowable presence as the master of the banana plantation. Namely because the title of the novel is Jealousy. And because the narrator seems to be present during the cocktail discussions of carburettors, and also because there are three alcoholic drinks being mixed by A…. but it could very well be a filial jealousy, rather than spousal, or even a paid companion or a cousin who makes up the party of three. A stoic, silent presence, the narrator offers a rolling shutter view of the surroundings: an enormous camera eye that pans dispassionately over the terrain, rendering precise but unqualified descriptions of subject-object phenomenology and ontology.

A generous (read lengthy) Euclidean perspective on architectural design and interior decoration in the beginning might daunt a doubting Thomas, but wade through it to collect in the Minowski hyperbolic spacetime that follows. Time curvature appears on page three, although it took a second reading to absorb that point. A….you see, is sitting down for the first time with Franck at the dinner table, when she stares at a stained brown spot on the wall: the centipede has already been squashed !and we’re only at the opening salvo of this little temporal adventure.

Its not too preposterous to presume then, that in essence this book never finishes: the events are destined to loop over and over again in groundhog-wartan (?) modus perpetually. This is already implied by the tightening spiral treatment of temporality whereby repetitions and close-ups escalate until the book finishes in a grand flourish of reverse perspective at its starting point: but then a second reread reveals no existence of a starting point, and so the loop continues, pendulously replaying events in a convex/concave enclave.

This juxtaposition of two dimensional space (the trajectory of inanimate objects) within four-dimensional actualisation highlights a peculiar type of reverse perspective: this kind on the Right:

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the kind where time-images are overlayed so that we’re seeing that extra plane of dimensionality, which shouldn’t be there.

The cinematic feel throughout is impossible to ignore. A clever, multi-faceted, understated, ambitious and amazing rendition of perspective. Hit all my buttons.

Profile Image for Sandra Deaconu.
658 reviews103 followers
July 24, 2022
Nu pot să cred că există fragmentul de mai jos, iar eu l-am citit. De două ori, că doar a trebuit să copiez citatul pentru a avertiza oamenii. Simt că am îmbătrânit câțiva ani de când am început cartea.

,,Mâna dreaptă ia pâinea și o duce la gură, mâna dreaptă pune pâinea pe fața de masă albă și ia cuțitul, mâna stângă ia furculița, furculița străpunge carnea, cuțitul taie o bucată de carne, mâna dreaptă pune cuțitul pe masă, mâna stângă trece cuțitul în mâna dreaptă, care străpunge bucata de carne, care se apropie de gură, care începe să mestece punând în mișcare toți mușchii feței prin contracție și destindere, de la pomeți la ochi și urechi, în timp ce mâna dreaptă ia din nou furculița ca s-o ducă în mâna stângă, apoi ia pâinea, după care cuțitul, furculița..."
Profile Image for Paul.
Author 1 book92 followers
May 25, 2020
Man, what a bold experiment, what a battering experience! Robbe-Grillet's hyper-realist nouveau roman doesn't make for comfortable reading. Given his choice of title, we can't say he didn't warn us. We could hardly expect total immersion in the mind of the "green-eyed monster" to be easy. In any case, ARG isn't interested in making things easy for us. The story, such as it is, is recounted by a disembodied consciousness, whom we must infer to be the wronged husband although he is entirely absent.

The unfaithful wife and the cuckolder exclude the unseen narrator from their conversations, even though they meet in his home. They discuss the novel they have both been reading, "a standard narrative of colonial life in Africa, with a description of a tornado, a native revolt and incidents at the club...", the novel Robbe-Grillet could have written:

They have never made the slightest judgement as to the novel's value, speaking instead of the scenes, events and characters as if they were real... Their discussions have never touched on the verisimilitude, the coherence or the quality of the narrative. On the other hand, they frequently blame the heroes for certain acts or characteristics, as they would in the case of mutual friends.

This passage seems to me a manifesto. You can feel ARG's frustration with the "realist" novel and its readers' expectations. The target of its ire remains in place. It feels painfully like eavesdropping on a book club meeting.

Like a stage drama, all of the "action" takes place in one location, at a farmhouse on a banana plantation somewhere in the tropics, switching only between the veranda, the bedroom, the office and the dining room. A limited range of props is used over and again - a hairbrush, the chairs on the veranda, a squashed centipede, a coffee pot, an ice bucket. Sound effects are repeated - the cries of small predators in the bush, the crickets' nightly chorus, the hiss of a kerosene lamp... The cast is small - A..., Franck, the Boy, our cuckold-narrator. It's an ensemble piece for small theatre, staged that we may home in on the narrator's corrosive, disturbing, all-consuming obsession. If anyone has ever made you jealous, you'll know how it can expand to fill your every waking moment. It's the totality of the narrative here.

The novel is also an attempt to present the true nature of perception, the fractured nature of our binary vision, the role of the mind's eye, the apparently irrelevant details that absorb our attention. I can't help but be reminded of Picasso's similar endeavours in paintings such as The Weeping Woman. And from these fragmented pieces, the reader must put together the narrative for him/herself. ARG is challenging the reader, fully involving him/her in his creation. There's nothing passive here. It's not a book club "good read".

Are the narrator's geometrical obsessions an attempt to impose order on a chaotic world, one that is spinning beyond his control? His senses are confused, overwhelmed. The crackling of the centipede's mandibles becomes the crackling of the brush in A...'s hair, the crackling of flames in the bush from Franck's crashed car... The accumulation of detail - geometry, sounds, objects - serves to build a version of reality as it is experienced as opposed to its expression in the vieux roman. It also signals a mind in the grip of obsession. Consider this:

The shiny black curls tremble on her shoulders as the pen advances. Although neither the arm nor the head seems disturbed by the slightest movement, the hair, more sensitive, captures the oscillations of the wrist, amplifies them and translates them into unexpected eddies which awaken reddish highlights in its moving mass.

The passage is unsettling. The narrator is spying on his wife in her bedroom through the slats of her bedroom window (a "jealousy window" in French, apparently). He spends much of the novel doing this. It is also extremely affecting. We feel the narrator's adoration of this indifferent goddess, the wife to whom he is a mere absence.

A... then is doubly an ellipse, something that must be circled around as an insect will fly around a kerosene lamp. The narrator is fatally drawn to A... He is an insect attracted to a nocturnal flame, in perpetual danger of self-destruction. He is weakened, unable to confront her with his suspicions, destined to move around her from the periphery. And this is his tragedy, every bit as moving in its way as the Moor's original green-eyed monster.

None of the characters comes out of this well, except perhaps the serving boy. Jealousy is that parody song, Jilted John by Jilted John (a heteronym of comic genius, Graham Fellows). As John, the pathetic narrator sings, Oh she's a slag and he's a creep/She's a tart, he's very cheap... Indeed. I have read that Perec was dismissive of Robbe-Grillet's novels. I'm surprised. The description of objects to tell the tale of a young couple's disappointments is the exact method he employed in his early novella, Things. I'm not sure how many more novels with protagonist-as-unseen-voyeur I'd want to read, but I'm glad I read this one.
Profile Image for Nate D.
1,578 reviews981 followers
July 6, 2011
A detached viewpoint, narration seemingly without narrator, moves through a house, coldly considering its details: layout, textures, surroundings, shadows, stains, furniture, the actions and motions of two people. A fine-tuned study of obsession, Jealousy allows us a sort of psychological portrait of a character and scenario, but without resorting to any of actual introspection or psychology Robbe-Grillet claimed to loath at the time. It is a portrait constructed entirely of what our viewpoint pauses to consider, and consider, and consider -- over and over, mulling over details, warping each moment slightly over time, as through imperfect glass.

It is doubtless the same poem continuing. If the themes sometimes blur, they only occur somewhat later, all the more clearly, virtually identical. Yet these repetitions, these tiny variations, halts, regressions, can give rise to modifications--though barely perceptible--eventually moving quite far from the point of departure.

Jealousy seems like it's Robbe-Grillet's most universally acknowledged work. Not so much at the time of its release, when passages were apparently ridiculed over the radio (still, what a literary climate that cared enough to publicly debate new experimental fiction at all), but certainly in retrospect. Intensely focused, sleekly tangled, it may be his purest work. It certainly seems his most serious, removed from pulp-ization of earlier noir gestures and later eroticism. In fact, it's almost free of action of any kind. Which makes this, in some ways, both Robbe-Grillet's most and least accessible. By which I mean that it's more obviously literary, and less obviously fun. Which sounds like a drag, but it's not actually -- as I said, it's an intense little study of obsession nonetheless, unsettling and fascinating.

The singing is at moments so little like what is ordinarily called a song, a complaint, a refrain, that a western listener is justified in wondering if something quite different is involved. The sounds, despite apparent repetitions, do not seem related by any musical law. There is no tune, really, no melody, no rhythm. It is as if the man were content to utter unconnected fragments as an accompaniment to his work.

As in his previous The Voyeur, Robbe-Grillet can't resist using bits of the novel to describe or explain its own construction; these are among the few moments at which he betrays humor. But he seems to know exactly what he is doing here and a certain dry humor about these contortions is certainly part of it. Faint humor interwoven with a quotidian despair (it seems this obsession has no exit or release), with perhaps a barely-suggested danger (in fact the possible exit, I suppose, though existing only off the page or between lines). Such is the subtle strength of this story in which nothing happens.
Profile Image for Cristina.
512 reviews387 followers
March 27, 2018
This is why I don't like to read books that are out of my comfort zone... because they bore me. Or I don't understand things. And this book was just like this!
I really didn't like it and I felt like I should DNF it a lot of times, but I finished it anyway, because it was short.
Profile Image for Eylül Görmüş.
303 reviews1,452 followers
August 9, 2022
İnsan 100 sayfalık bir kitabı okurken ne kadar zorlanabilirse o kadar zorlandım Alain Robbe-Grillet'nin kült kitabı Kıskançlık'ı okurken. Niye kült? Çünkü "yeni roman"ın (anti roman, karşı roman gibi başka isimleri de var, Nereden Başlamalı'da uzun uzun konuşmuştuk) kurucu metinlerinden kabul ediliyor. 1957 tarihli bu metin yıkan ve yapan bir metin - bildiğimiz roman gibi akmıyor, zaman doğrusal ilerlemiyor, konu ve konum belirsiz, anlatıcı adeta döngüsel diyebileceğimiz bir şekilde aktarıyor gözlemlerini.

Bir muz plantasyonundaki bir evin içine kapanmış durumdayız. Sanki stop motion bir film izler gibi, çeşitli karelerin tasvirlerini dinleyip onları hikayenin içine oturtmaya çalışıyoruz. Saplantılı şekilde detaylı biçimde betimlenen bir mekan var. Gölgelerin açısından eşyaların konumlarına her şeyi tekrar ve tekrar çok ayrıntılı biçimde okuyoruz. Tüm bunların yarattığı çok atmosferik bir hal var elbette, kitap sizi içine ve o eve hapsediyor gibi. Anlatıcı, muhtemelen karısı olduğunu anladığımız A'nın, komşuları Franck ile sohbetini izliyor ve aktarıyor. Metinde anlatıcının A'yı kıskandığına dair tek bir cümle bile yok ama yaşadığı şüphe ve kıskançlık içinize işliyor.

Ben edebiyatta deneyselliğe hiç karşı değilim malumunuz, en sevdiğim romanların pek çoğu epey tuhaf, çizgidışı akan, eksperimental metinlerdir (mesela göz bebeğim Terra Nostra) ama bu kitabı okurken içtenlikle sıkıldım. Yazarın yaptığı şey teknik olarak beni çok heyecanlandırmış olsa da uygulamayla ilgili ciddi sıkıntılarım oldu. Ben edebiyatın nasıl evrelerden geçtiğini, sınırlarının nereye uzanabileceğini keşfetmeyi seven biri olduğum için okumuş olmaktan mutluyum, hiçbir yere varmayan ve aslında maksadı tam olarak varmamak olan bir metnin edebiyatın tarihinde bir yeni yol açmış olmasındaki ironi beni heyecanlandırdı ama keyif almak için okuyorsanız tavsiye etmeyeceğimi belirteyim.
Profile Image for Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly.
755 reviews330 followers
July 5, 2011
The security camera. The spy camera. An audio-visual recorder. Any all-seeing and all-hearing machine, non-judgmental, opinionless, without emotion. It just sees and hears, then records the informations that come its way.

What if a machine like that can write a novel? Then it could be something very close to this, by Alain Robbe-Grillet. It has only four characters apart from the narrator: the lady named "A.", her houseboy with no name, a man named Franck and Christiane his wife and their young child. The narrator likewise is unnamed, does not say who he (or she?) is. He just watches, hears and describes, perpetually focused on A.'s house and what goes on there. And oh, what minute and detailed descriptions! He points out things like the measurements of the house, where the shadows are during the times of the day, A.'s curly hair and how it sways with the wind or moves with her body, even the centipede squashed on the wall and how many legs it has, the number of banana trees in front of her veranda, their spacing, etc. Events are sometimes repeatedly described, like an audio-visual tape rewinded and replayed.

Boring, then? Nope. I should say it's trance-like. You've discovered an accidental hole, you peep into it, see something seemingly innocent but somehow suggests of mischief. As the narrator inundates you with those tireless details, you begin to suspect that A. is having an affair with Franck, or someone was, or will be, killed. But that is all you can do. The narrator, like a spy camera, cannot go into an omniscient mode (like in many novels) and say what the characters are thinking or feeling. He can hear some of their conversations but not all (including whispers). His vision cannot penetrate walls, so he could not say what happens when the door, or window, is closed.

There is a suggestion that this narrator is A.'s husband. But I never got that impression while reading it. Why would a husband pay attention to the number of banana trees, or a crushed centipede and the number of its legs? Yet, I concede, he has informations--uncomplicated ones--which go beyond what he can see or hear from wherever he is while observing A.'s house, for example that Franck has a wife (unseen) and a child (also never seen throughout the novel), and how long it takes to travel from A.'s house to the town nearby and back.

And yet, computers can also store such basic informations, isn't it? This novel came out in 1957 so allow me to be a little bit whimsical, stupid even, and declare this to be a prophetic book--a novel approximating the literary output of the first audio-visual computerized writer-robot which will one day win the Nobel prize for literature!
Profile Image for Nahid.
16 reviews26 followers
July 12, 2017
«ژلوزی» از روب گریه، یک «رمان نو» فرانسوی است. رمان سرشار از توصیفات وسواس گونه راوی است از فضاها، آدم‌ها ، ساختمان‌ها و هر آن چه یک نفر می ‌تواند در یک خانه در روستای مستعمره نشین در افریقا ببیند. راوی که همسر «آ» است ، نقش خاصی در داستان ایفا نمی‌کند. او در گوشه گوشه خانه به همسرش و فرانک نگاه می‌کند گویی یک دوربین فیبمبرداری است که مدام در حال ثبت جزییات است و بدون آنکه اشاره صریحی به رابطه نامشروع همسرش و فرانک کند،‌ حسادت را در فضای غیر خطی داستان و گاه تکرار فضاها و بازی با عناصر جاندار مثل هزارپا می ریزد و بی قراری هایش را به نمایش می گذارد. روب‌گریه معتقد است که «این رمان نوعی آزمایش اضطراب است. اضطرابی که هایدگر معتقد است که احساس آن قیمتی است که انسان باید در قبال آزادی روح بپردازد.»
ژلوزی در لغت به معنای «کرکره» یا «حسادت» است و ایهام جالبی دارد که مترجم با ترجمه نکردنش، آن را حفظ کرده است. ا
اگر با توصیفات خیلی دقیق و پیدا کردن نشانه‌های مبهم و روایت غیر خطی میانه خوبی دارید این رمان برایتان جذاب خواهد بود.
Profile Image for James Tingle.
149 reviews7 followers
April 7, 2020
I've read two books by this author now and they were both very good and were both great examples of what I'll call precision writing. This is only a short novel, but it doesn't read like one and takes time to get through, if you give it the time it deserves. That may sound odd, but it is very detailed and exacting and you have to read this slowly, to fully absorb the descriptions and all the relevant positions from where the 'viewing' is taking place. At the start of the book, there is a little map of the outer grounds of the banana plantation and the outside/inside of the house, which shows the locations of the chairs, windows and doors, wardrobes, dressers etc and they are all numbered, so you can refer to them as you read onward. By following the proceedings in this way, you get firstly a good feel of the man's perspective and his point of view and you feel like you are the one creeping round, carefully observing, which is quite a weird experience. Secondly, you also get the sensation of voyeurism regarding the man's actions, from afar, as if you watch the watcher, and that is eerie and fairly unsettling as well. Its a very clinical kind of novel and its not got drama in a conventional way or plot or a load of well developed characters- it just isn't that sort of thing at all. There is little emotion or feeling in the novel, almost like a psychopath has written it in a way and it is very cold and calculating, but that's what makes it so unusual and memorable and was why I was gripped by it to the end...
I think if you want a thrilling page-turner with twists and turns and fantastically imagined characters, memorable protagonists and emotionally draining plots, that pull at your heart strings, then this won't be for you at all. If you're after something quite unique and possibly unlike anything you've read before, then maybe give it a go, if you feel in patient mood and are willing to soak up the details of this inventive, immersive and uncompromising work.
Profile Image for Alborz Baghipour.
41 reviews90 followers
September 12, 2015
اگر می خواهید درباره ی «رمان نو» بیشتر بدانید با مطالعه «ژلوزی» آغاز کنید. سومین رمان روب-گری‌یه که به خوبی تمام خصوصیات رمان نو را بازمی نمایاند؛ از بین بردن مفهوم «شخصیت یا قهرمان» به معنای متعارف آن، توجه افراطی به اشیا و جزئیات به ظاهر بی اهمیت، فروپاشی زمان خطی، بازتعریفِ مفهوم «واقعیت» و تقریبا هرآنچه که به عنوان خصوصیاتِ رمان نو مطرح شده از دل همین رمان بیرون آمده است
درحالیکه تا همین چند سال پیش مهمترین آثار این جریان (هرچند نمی توان رمان نو را یک مکتب ادبی در نظر گرفت) به فارسی ترجمه نشده بودند، بالاخره در سال 92 چهار اثر مهم به همت منوچهر بدیعی و نشر نیلوفر راهی بازار کتاب شدند: سه رمان روب-گر‌ی‌یه با نام های «ژلوزی»، «شاهد» و «در تودرتو» به همراه مجموعه مقالاتی خواندنی تحت عنوانِ «آری و نه به رمان نو». پس جای تعجب نیست که رمان نو تاثیری هم در ادبیات معاصر ایران نگذاشته است. درحالیکه از آن به عنوان نقطه ی انقطاع مدرنیسم و سرآغاز پست مدرنیسم در ادبیات یاد می شود
ژلوزی رمان عجیبی است. در واقع رمان نیست، یک «غیررمان» است، «متن» است. هیچ چیز آشنایی در آن وجود ندارد: از عنوان نامتعارف آن گرفته (ژلوزی در زبان فرانسه هم به معنای حسادت و هم به معنای کرکره ی چوبی است و در رمان هم هردو معنا مدنظر نوسنده بوده) تا پایان آن. هیچ اتفاق خاصی در طول رمان نمی افتد؛ فقط تصاویری جسته و گریخته که بدون ترتیب خاصی برایمان توصیف می شوند، گاهی حتا به دلیل زاویه ی دید راوی تصاویر چندان واضح نیستند، همچون صداهای مبهمی که گه گاه به گوش می رسند، صدای جیرجیرگ ها، صدای جیغ جانور گوشت خوار شبگردی و یا جرینگ جرینگ فنجانی کوچک روی میز
مدت ها بود که پیش نیامده بود رمانی را بدست گیرم و یک نفس تا آخر بخوانم. ژلوزی برایم تکرار چنین تجربه ای بود
396 reviews7 followers
December 18, 2020
Really fucking great. I like geometry! Seriously. And chaos. And maybe affairs, and endlessly killing caterpillars and leaving stains everywhere (mostly from the caterpillars but also maybe from fucking...?).
Profile Image for Mostafa.
363 reviews10 followers
December 27, 2020
یک روایت تکرار شونده از چند اتفاق خیلی ساده که راوی از چند زاویه مختلف با در هم ریختن زمان و مکان آن را روایت میکند. بقول یکی از ریویوهای انگلیسی انگار خواننده توی یک endless circular labyrinth گیر کرده (بنظرم توضیح کاملیه برای کتاب!)
نویسنده با جزئیات بسیار چند صحنه را توصیف میکند و همه چیز میگوید جز آنچه دوست دارید بدانید، و جوری روایت را پیش میبرد که شما با جزویات همه چیز آشنا میشوید و همه چیز را درباره آن چندصحنه میدانید، و بعد شما را به حال خود میگذارد تا روایت را کامل کنید و با آن طرف شوید... دو شخصیت مرموز یک مرد به نام فرانک و زنی به اسم «آ» و یک شخصیت سوم که هیچ صحبتی از آن نمیشود و همیشه حضور دارد و در کنار اینها راوی مرموز که دارد این اتفاقات را ثبت میکند.
خیلی کتاب عجیبی بود، خواندنش آسان نیست ولی به طرز عجیبی خسته کننده هم نبود! و البته کتابی نیست که بشه به کسی توصیه کرد
Profile Image for Adriana Scarpin.
1,365 reviews
July 16, 2015
Obra prima sem tamanho, compulsivamente o li em poucas horas, pois a capacidade do Robbe-Grillet repetir as mesmas cenas destrinchando a linguagem de formas diferentes é particularmente brilhante, especialmente porque reflete no tipo de pensamento obsessivo causado pelo ciúme, mesmo que se isente de qualquer tipo de análise psicológica no sentido clássico da acepção e sim aniquilando o tempo. Não é uma leitura difícil ou chata como vemos muitos dizendo por aí, mas sim melhor degustada por aqueles aptos a assumirem seu amor pela grandiosidade e diversidade da linguagem.
Profile Image for Mathias Chouvier.
62 reviews1 follower
October 26, 2022
Vraiment le Nouveau Roman c’est pas pour moi. C’est long, pompeux, chiant et totalement vain.
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