Robert Pinget was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 19, 1919. After receiving a law degree from the University of Geneva and practicing briefly (1944-1946), he turned to painting. A one-man showing of his works was fairly successful, but he grew dissatisfied with this career as well. He taught design and French in England; then, in 1951, after settling in Paris, he completed a manuscript collection of stories, Between Fantoine and Agapa, which was published by a provincial press at the author’s expense.
Having at last found his vocation, he began to write extensively, publishing his first novel, Mahu, in 1952. This book won for him the admiration of another avant-garde writer, Alain Robbe-Grillet, who reviewed the work favorably. Pinget’s second novel gained for him another significant admirer; he submitted the manuscript to the prestigious publishing house Gallimard, whose reader, Albert Camus, was much impressed. Subsequently, Pinget continued producing a series of novels that received critical acclaim.
Pinget’s dramatic career began in 1959 when he translated Beckett’s All That Fall (pr., pb. 1957) as Tout ceux qui tombent. Beckett soon reciprocated by translating La Manivelle into The Old Tune, broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on August 23, 1960. Pinget’s first original play, Dead Letter, followed shortly afterward, and in the spring of 1960 it shared the stage with Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (pr., pb. 1958). Although Pinget claimed to prefer the novel, he used his plays to explore more fully the themes, characters, and situations that he presented in his fiction. He died of a stroke in Tours, France, in 1997.