Thursday, March 06, 2008

"Wonderful insidious prose"

It is not just in the Anglo-Saxon countries that publishers have assumed that readers crave "accessibility", that is, being told what they know already.
Jonathan Meades is King Cnut (sic) to the tide of philistinism risen even higher since the death of Robbe-Grillet. He read the late author's novels untouched by the rote populist judgement.
I thus didn't know there was no psychology in his work, because the depiction of impotent jealousy in La jalousie seemed horrible, painful and psychologically acute. I didn't know there was no characterisation because the pimp or protector in 'Immortelle was immediately recognisable as a hideous character. I didn't know there was no emotional affect because the soldier's plight - lost, mistrustful, seeking shelter in a snowbound city - in Dans le labyrinthe is so vividly realised, so elemental that it's harrowing.
While you're here, don't miss Meades' gloriously singular documentary Magnetic North hidden away last week on BBC4. The walk through the shrouded forest on the island of Rügen (episode 6/6 here) is alone worth a thousand and one Michael Palin travelogues.


  1. Then there's this article at Salon, in which: "Many novelists you've probably never heard of were deeply influenced by Robbe-Grillet. Even more damaging, though, was the effect his radicalization and elitism had on readers in the English-speaking world: They took a look at the future of the novel according to Robbe-Grillet and walked in the opposite direction."

    (Welcome back, Steve.)

  2. Thanks Richard. What a painfully impressionistic and depressing article.



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