Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
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.
Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Robert Pinget was born in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 19, 1919. He studied law and entered the legal profession. After practicing law for a relatively short period of time, he became disappointed with his career and in 1946 moved to Paris, where he studied painting with Jean Souverbie at the École des Beaux-Arts. By 1950, he had once again become dissatisfied in his profession and, after an exhibition of his works at Boulevard Saint Germain, he redirected his creative talents, devoting himself to writing full time. He became involved with the new literary movement of the time, known as le nouveau roman, or the New Novel, and associated himself with writers such as Alain Robbe-Grillet.
In 1951, he published his first book, a collection of short stories titled Entre Fantoine et Agapa (Between Fantoine and Agapa, 1982). Both Robbe-Grillet and Albert Camus praised the work. In 1955, Pinget met the Irish author Samuel Beckett, with whom he developed a lasting friendship. Beckett played a significant role in Pinget’s career, providing advice and encouragement and, even more important, introducing him in both Dublin and New York to individuals who were influential in the literary world. The two writers carried on an extensive correspondence through 1988 (Beckett died in 1989). Both novelists and playwrights, each translated one of the other’s radio plays: Beckett translated Pinget’s La Manivelle (1960; The Old Tune, 1963), and Pinget translated Beckett’s All That Fall (1957).
In 1962, six of Pinget’s poems were set to music by Germaine Taillefer in a song cycle titled Pancarte pour une porte d’entrée (handbill for an entrance). In 1987, five of his plays were performed at the prestigious theater festival held in Avignon, France. In the spring of 1997, he published his last novel, Traces of Ink, and shortly after its publication a colloquium honoring Pinget was held in Tours, France, where he was living. Pinget suffered a stroke and died on August 26, 1997.
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
The creator of the fictional realm of Fantoine and Agapa, Robert Pinget (pihn-zhay) explored the limits of language in his novels and plays. After receiving a law degree from the University of Geneva and practicing briefly he had turned first to visual art, then to literature. In 1951 he published a collection of short stories, Between Fantoine and Agapa, at his own expense. Mahu, his first novel, appeared the following year and received a favorable review from the French avant-garde writer Alain Robbe-Grillet. His next novel, Le Renard et la boussole (the fox and the compass), came out under the prestigious imprint of Gallimard, whose reader, Albert Camus, found the work impressive. Subsequent fiction also enjoyed critical acclaim: In 1963 The Inquisitory won the Prix des Critiques, and Someone received the Prix Femina two years later. A Ford Foundation grant in 1960 and a sabbatical subsidized by the French government (1975-1976) paid further tribute to his literary achievement.
Pinget’s career as a dramatist was as productive as his efforts as a novelist. In 1959 he translated Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall (pr., pb. 1957) into French; Beckett returned the favor by rendering La Manivelle into The Old Tune, which was aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on August 23, 1960. In that same year Pinget’s Dead Letter shared the stage with Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (pr., pb. 1958). Despite his 1968 vow to stop writing, Pinget continued to produce experimental literature that challenged his audiences to discover meaning in a world of chaos.
Always an innovator, Pinget shared his compatriot Robbe-Grillet’s view that literature should be “an exploration, but an exploration which itself...
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