Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


House. Home of the novel’s anonymous narrator and his wife, who is identified only as “A . . . ” Located at the center of a series of squares or—boxes, the house is surrounded by other squares or partial boxes—a veranda, a garden, a courtyard, and the banana plantation, which encloses the house on all four sides of its square. The narrator-husband always remains in or close to his home. Readers see nothing that lies beyond his field of vision and are consequently at the mercy of the narrator’s judgments.

A road leads from the house to a highway, which in turn, leads to the home of Franck, who is apparently A . . . ’s lover. This road, which cuts through the boundaries around the narrator’s home, constitutes then a means of escape for A . . . and Franck, who make at least one trip to a port city, several hours away by car.

The story’s three major characters spend much of their time on a veranda that surrounds the house on three sides. The narrator notes that the chairs of Franck and A . . . are always very close together, which facilitates conversation—and conspiracy. On the other hand, the narrator-husband’s chair is at the other end of a semicircle—separated from those of the others by a cocktail table and the empty chair reserved for Franck’s always-absent wife, Christiane.

The narrator’s garden, courtyard, and plantation represent his desire to carve out a civilized domain in...

(The entire section is 574 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Barthes, Roland. “Objective Literature: Alain Robbe-Grillet.” In Two Novels by Robbe-Grillet: “Jealousy” and “In the Labyrinth,” translated by Richard Howard, New York: Grove Press, 1965. Important introductory essay to the standard English language edition of Jealousy by the leading French structuralist critic and proponent of objective literature.

Fletcher, John. Alain Robbe-Grillet. New York: Methuen, 1983. Good monographic overview of Robbe-Grillet’s fiction and critical theory. Section on Jealousy emphasizes the psychological aspects of the narrator’s consciousness rather than the structural patterns of his descriptions.

Leki, Ilona. Alain Robbe-Grillet. Boston: Twayne, 1983. A thorough, readable survey of the author’s life and works. Chapter on Jealousy suggests that the narrator’s paranoid psychology is produced by a generalized fear of dispossession and loss of control, not only of his wife, but also of his house and property.

Morrissette, Bruce. Alain Robbe-Grillet. New York: Columbia University Press, 1965. Short but excellent monograph by Robbe-Grillet’s premier critic. Extremely perceptive commentary on Jealousy, with a nice balance between formalist and humanist interpretative reading.

Stoltzfus, Ben. Alain Robbe-Grillet and the New French Novel. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964. Although to an extent superseded by Stoltzfus’ later work on Robbe-Grillet, still a very useful introductory study. Sees in Jealousy the fusion of two narrative centers: the selective omniscience of the jealous husband with the hidden editorial omniscience of the author.