Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

As a general statement, it can be said that Robbe-Grillet is one of the proponents of the French New Novel, a disparate group that includes such well-known authors as Samuel Beckett and Claude Simon, as well as the lesser known, to Americans, Nathalie Sarraute and Claude Ollier. The New Novelists are no real “school,” since each follows his, or her, particular bent. Nearly all that they have in common is the suppression of linear time and space in their stories. The reader may already be familiar with the screenplays written by several of these artists which give visual expression to the lack of linear development. The best are, probably, Hiroshima mon amour (1959; Hiroshima mon amour: Text by Marguerite Duras for the Film by Alain Resnais, 1961) and L’Annee derniere a Marienbad (1961; Last Year at Marienbad, 1962) by Robbe-Grillet. They also show, in general, a devotion to art as opposed to the politically and socially engaged stance of their immediate predecessors, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Nevertheless, Alain Robbe-Grillet really differs from the others in that there is no story, in the traditional sense, in Jealousy. This book stands alone, considered by both Robbe-Grillet’s admirers and detractors to be the highest expression of his art. It will not be repeated because it cannot be. Were Robbe-Grillet to attempt another Jealousy, the result would be not a triumph but a parody.