The Flanders Road

by Claude Simon

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Critical Context

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Claude Simon is one of the foremost practitioners of the experimental fiction which came to the fore in France immediately after World War II, known as le nouveau roman (the New Novel). The basic objective of this approach to fiction, as set forth by the most noted theoretician among its practitioners, Alain Robbe-Grillet, was to create fiction which would eschew the debts to documentation and photography incurred by realist fiction. While none of the New Novelists necessarily agreed as to the specific direction such a development might take, their diverse works have had a considerable influence on contemporary fiction and narrative theory.

The fiction of Claude Simon is worthy of special attention, however, and will continue to command notice when the works of some of his fellow New Novelists have come to be regarded as literary curiosities. The lushness of his imagery, the passion of his attentiveness, his psychological suppleness and narrative flexibility, and his profound and unrelenting exposure of man’s existential frailty and persistence—these qualities mark Simon as a great writer.

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