Nathalie Sarraute Long Fiction Analysis
In her preface to The Age of Suspicion, Nathalie Sarraute attempts to explain the concept of “tropisms”—the subterranean movements she tries to capture in her fiction. She calls them “the secret source of our existence” and claims that they are “at the origin of our gestures, of our words and of the emotions that we believe we feel.” Although few people recognize or pay attention to these rapid changes at the limit of consciousness, Sarraute insists, they occur in every human being. Because they are deeper than the “subconscious” mind and exist before thoughts are put into words, these emotional movements are extremely difficult to record. The method that Sarraute adopts is to translate these tropisms into images—provoking in the reader emotional reactions similar to those she is seeking to portray. Because these movements are very rapid, she attempts to slow them down and take them apart so that the reader can follow the interaction of tropisms, usually between two or more people. Often, she devotes three or four pages to “events” that take place in a matter of seconds. Sarraute compares this technique to a slow-motion film.
In addition to showing the interaction of tropisms between different persons, Sarraute also studies the interplay of two levels of discourse. The first level, which she calls “conversation,” realistically and sometimes ironically imitates the banal clichés that people exchange in everyday life or...
(The entire section is 3051 words.)
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