new novel:see French literatureFrench literature,
writings in medieval French dialects and standard modern French. Writings in Provençal and Breton are considered separately, as are works in French produced abroad (as at Canadian literature, French).
..... Click the link for more information. ; Robbe-Grillet, AlainRobbe-Grillet, Alain
, 1922–2008, French novelist and filmmaker, b. Brest. Robbe-Grillet is considered the originator of the French nouveau roman [new novel], in which conventional story is subordinated to structure and the significance of objects is stressed above
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(nouveau roman), the term conventionally used to designate the literary practice of many French writers of the 1950’s and 1960’s (N. Sarraute, A. Robbe-Grillet, M. Butor, C. Simon, and C. Mauriac, for example), who proclaimed that the structure of traditional prose had been exhausted and dissociated themselves from their immediate predecessors, the existentialists. The “new novelists” are in agreement concerning certain very general features of literary problematics, which are associated with a tendency toward loss of personal identity and toward an emphasis on various forms of alienation and conformism in modern bourgeois society. Its literary problematics make the new novel a variant of a broader intellectual and literary current that includes drama (S. Beckett, for example).
Dissociating themselves not only from the existentialist idea of “free choice” as the primary basis of human existence but also from the traditions of the 19th-century French novel, in which the hero’s inner self and his drive to embody his subjective world in reality are depicted by means of a stable character and a unique social fate and biography, the new novelists assume that there is a fundamental contradictoriness between the true nature of modern man and his social role. This assumption gives rise to two types of characters: personifications of the anonymous platitudes of social life, such as the characters in Sarraute’s The Golden Fruits and Mauriac’s The Dinner Party; and the “heroes,” who attempt to reveal and to defend the genuine structure and meaning of their lives (for example, the heroes of Sarraute’s Martereau and Butor’s A Change of Heart).
From the point of view of the new novelists, man, engulfed in and alienated by an atmosphere of intellectual stereotypes or oppressed by the material forms of a world that is hostile to him (Robbe-Grillet’s In the Labyrinth), is capable of making a moral discovery, of making his own consciousness the focal point of true values. But he cannot transform these values into an effective principle of practical existence—he cannot attain an individual personality and an individual fate. For this reason, in the new novel the traditional novelistic plot—the hero’s “story”—usually gives way to his spiritual “prehistory,” and the hidden depths of human consciousness are presented as “lava” unshaped by the real experience of life. Moreover, the new novelist rejects the role of omniscient demiurge, and the limited viewpoint of one or several of the novel’s characters predominates.
The reform of prose structure led to the appearance of new subjects and new means of describing them. For example, Robbe-Grillet’s “thing-oriented” novels give an emphatically detached description of objects in the external world, depriving them of human meaning. Sarraute’s “subconscious conversation” focuses on the element of universal meanings in the subconscious, and Butor’s polyphonic texts are a mosaic of thoughts, perceptions, and “essays.”
In a number of works, the techniques of the new novel are combined with profound, fruitful content (Butor’s A Change of Heart and Sarraute’s Do You Hear Them?). However, because the new novelists have rejected integral characters, have made a fetish of form in a series of theoretical “manifestos,” and have asserted that there is an opposition between ideology and the cognitive capacity of art, Soviet critics regard the new novel as a variety of modernism.
REFERENCES“Roman, chelovek, obshchestvo: Na vstreche pisatelei Evropy ν Lenin-grade.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1963, no. 11.
Velikovskii, S. “V laboratorii raschelovechivaniia iskusstva.” In the collection O sovremennoi burzhuaznoi estetike, fasc. 1. Moscow, 1963.
Balashova, T. Frantsuzskii Roman 60-kh godov. Moscow, 1965.
Nouveau Roman: hier, aujourd’hui, vols. 1–2, Paris, 1972.
G. K. KOSIKOV