Alain Robbe-Grillet was born on August 18, 1922, in Brest, Finistère, France. He received his early education at the lycée Buffon in Paris, the lycée in Brest, and the lycée Saint Louis in Paris. Growing up in a family of scientists and engineers, he chose to study mathematics and biology. In 1944 he graduated from the Institut National d’Agronomique with a degree in agricultural engineering. During World War II, he was sent to Germany to work in a tank factory. He was an engineer at the Institut National de la Statistique in Paris from 1945 to 1948. Then from 1949 to 1951 he was an agronomist with the Institut des Fruits et Agrumes Coloniaux in Morocco, in French Guyana, in Martinique, and in Guadeloupe, where he was involved in the supervision of banana plantations.
In 1951, Robbe-Grillet suffered from ill health. While recuperating, he wrote Les Gommes (1953; The Erasers, 1964). With the publication of this novel, he began a new career as a writer. Although The Erasers was his first published novel, it was not the first novel that he had written. In 1949, while working in his sister’s biology laboratory, he had written Un Régicide (1978; a regicide). This novel was not published until 1978. The Erasers brought him considerable attention from the literary community and recognition as one of the major new authors whose works were referred to as the New Novel. In 1954, The Erasers received the Prix Fénélon. The following year, Robbe-Grillet published The Voyeur, for which he received the Prix des Critiques, and became a literary consultant for the French publishing house Les Editions de Minuit. He remained in this capacity through 1985. On October 23, 1957, he married Catherine Rstakian, a film and theater actress.
In spite of Robbe-Grillet’s...
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