SEVEN YEARS AGO, two decades after having publicly renounced the writing of novels and just shy of his eightieth birthday, Alain Robbe-Grillet returned with astounding, youthful energy to the genre he had most practiced and had significantly marked. Long after the nouveau roman’s heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, the publication of La Reprise (2001; Repetition, 2003)¹ proved that Robbe-Grillet’s place among the leading French writers of the past half century was, however contested, amply justified. The French press was dithyrambic, praising the work’s imagination, humor, and sophistication. Even the conservative Figaro waxed enthusiastic. Claiming that La Reprise amounted to a birthday telegram from the author declaring, “New Novel not dead,” the newspaper asked, What is left of the nouveau roman? Robbe-Grillet delighted in answering: “Quite obviously, me most of all.”
And he was right.
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