Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Isolated works

You want pretention? I've just got back from reading The Beach, a short story by Robbe-Grillet, whilst sitting on the beach. It's in a 40-year-old Calder Publications edition Snapshots & Towards a New Novel that's well out-of-print. In spite of that, the observations in essays collected in the second half of the book might as well have been published yesterday. Here's the opening paragraph of the essay A Path for the Future Novel, dated 1956:
At first sight it hardly seems reasonable to think that an entirely new literature might one day - now, for instance - be possible. There been many attempts, during the last thirty or more years, to get the art of fiction out of its rut, but they have only, at best, resulted in isolated works. And - as we are often told - none of these works, whatever its interest, has won the support of a public comparable to that of the bourgeois novel. The only conception of the novel that is current today, is, in fact, that of Balzac.
Useful as it is, you don't see the word "bourgeois" very often nowadays. Whatever, let's hope there are more isolated works in future.

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