Monday, February 18, 2008


Since most people will be blogging Northern Rock in all its outrageousness today, I'll leave that to the papers and comment, instead, on the passing of Alain Robbe-Grillet. I studied contemporary French literature as part of my Masters degree back in the last millennium - yeah it is that long ago. I studied that amongst other more traditional French literary gems - you know the usual Descartes, Pascal, Zola, Baudelaire, Chateaubriand, Madame de Lafayette etcetc. I was the only one who admitted to preferring the contemporary stuff. The dark Céline was unputdownable, the Gide too and Camus made me smile with his dropping of the much-loathed past historic tense. I was probably a little too young at 20 to quite grasp the ins and outs of Sartre's ideas, but relished everything by his better half a few years later and even spent a long 6 months studying the clandestine literature written under the French resistance. But Robbe-Grillet was definitely hard going - I wasn't really sure what he was trying to do in 'Dans le labyrinthe' at first - it wasn't like a real novel - it never seemed to start or end, character and narrator seemed to blur into one, or maybe be the wrong way around. I found I was never overly interested in the long descriptions or the fate of the soldier. It was the one novel on the contemporary list, that I felt perhaps, just a little too stupid to understand! It seemed almost like a meaningless experiment in the norms of the formation of the modern novel. Maybe I should go back and read it now I'm older and wiser, to see if it has caught up with me yet. The tutor we had at the time, Dorothy, enthused so much about it, I felt pained to admit it was the one novel that had failed to captivate me!

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