Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In 1932, Nathalie Sarraute (sah-ROHT) began to write the short texts that make up Tropismes (1939, 1957; Tropisms, 1963). These short fictions cannot be called short stories because they have neither the plots nor the characters traditionally associated with the genre. The texts provide, rather, glimpses into the inner psychological workings of anonymous beings designated only by pronouns. This book is the basis of all of Sarraute’s later creations; it is interesting to note that she returned to this form (a collection of short fictions) in L’Usage de la parole (1980; The Use of Speech, 1980). While she was developing her novelistic techniques, Sarraute began to write critical essays on the evolution of the novel form. These essays were published in a collection titled L’Ère du soupçon (1956; The Age of Suspicion, 1963). Sarraute turned to dramatic literature in 1963 when she was commissioned by a German network to write radio plays. Her first two plays, Le Silence (1964; Silence, 1981) and Le Mensonge (1966; The Lie, 1981), were originally presented on the radio; they were subsequently staged by Jean-Louis Barrault. Sarraute regularly wrote a play after each novel she published; for her, writing plays seemed to be a form of “relaxation.” She published a collection of five plays in 1978.