Published in , as the nouveau roman was rising on the Parisian literary scene, Alain Robbe-Grillet's novel La Jalousie [ Jealousy ] produced in many of its first readers a reaction of puzzlement and consternation. One critic from the newspaper Le Monde believed that "he had surely received a copy whose pages had been mixed up by the printer, that it was a jumbled mess" qtd. La Jalousie , in many ways, can be said to illustrate Robbe-Grillet's modernist, if not postmodernist, bias against classical realism and narration, 1 his view that "tell[ing] a story has become strictly impossible [ raconter est devenu proprement impossible ]" Making these remarks in an article aptly entitled "On Several Obsolete Notions," published the same year as La Jalousie and republished a few years later in his influential manifesto For a New Novel , Robbe-Grillet made clear his intention to renovate both the novel form and the critical reading practices used in approaching the genre as a whole. Few readers answered Robbe-Grillet's call for a radicalization of the novel, however, and the question of how one can or should read La Jalousie 's unruliness, its intentional challenge to hermeneutical containment and cognitive mastery, still remains open.
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A woman and her male friend sit on her porch, having drinks and discussing a novel. Her suspicious husband? Let's hear it for French puns! Construction workers repair a decaying bridge on the edge of the property.
Woman writes a letter. Friend comes over for dinner. Friend squashes a centipede. Woman combs her hair. Crickets c. Crickets chirp. Repeat ad nauseam in fragmentary, temporally disjointed ways, then mix in some nonsense about geometric arrangements of banana trees and the quotidian movement of a column's shadow and that's pretty much this novel in a nutshell.
Unfortunately, I lost interest in cracking this nut around the page mark meaning it was quite a long, irritating journey through the remaining Before I continue, let it be known that I'm absolutely in favor of cryptic, challenging, experimental literature Any sort of fascination I might have developed toward its circular rhythms, its enigmatic understatements, its sinister atmospheres, was quickly stifled by Robbe-Grillet's mundane repetitiveness and Sahara-dry prose — which was probably his intention.
In his essay Objective Literature , Roland Barthes writes:. In literature, at least, we live, without even taking the fact into account, in a world based on an organic, not a visual order. Therefore the first step of this knowing murder must be to isolate objects, to alienate them as much from their usual functions as from our own biology.
Robbe-Grillet's purpose is to establish the novel on the surface: once you can set its inner nature, its "interiority," between parentheses, then objects in space, and the circulation of men between them, are promoted to the rank of subjects. The novel becomes man's direct experience of what surrounds him without his being able to shield himself with a psychology, a metaphysic, or a psychoanalytic method in his combat with the objective world he discovers.
This unnerving, dreamlike film does share some similarities with La Jalousie — except for the fact that I loved it! Perhaps Robbe-Grillet's experiments with temporality and objectivity are better-suited to the visual possibilities of filmmaking — someday I'll give his own directorial efforts a chance. Until then, it will take some rather hefty convincing to encourage my exploration of the rest of his literary output.
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Jealousy by Alain Robbe-Grillet ,. Richard Howard Translator. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.
Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Jealousy , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Jealousy. Detail, Detail, Detail On the first two pages we are given a blueprint of the house, courtyard and surrounding banana trees along with a legend labeling ten different parts of the house.
And throughout the novel the detail continues, expressed in a kind of mechanical drawing length-and-width language, descriptions overwhelmingly visual, as if outlining specifics for a film crew to construct a set and do a filming.
Alan Robbe-Grillet was much influenced by both Camus and Sartre. Novel Within a Novel Both main characters are reading, reflecting and sharing their thoughts on an African novel that has many parallels with their own lives in the tropics.
For me, this was a most fascinating part of this novella. And, by the way, not only are there nearly zero similes or metaphors in this novella, the sentences tend to be short and staccato.
Metafiction, anyone? One more fascinating aspect we encounter — is the narrator really all that objective or is the narrator an integral part of the life of either or both of the main characters? The more I contemplate the possibilities at every turn in this little new novel, the more admiration I have for its author.
View all 32 comments. What the hell did I just read?! Lying in wait within these scant few pages are the noxious suffocation and claustrophobia inherent in jealousy, manifested in an extremely original, shockingly cumulative way.
The reader is insidiously imprisoned, trapped in an endless circular labyrinth of stifling, oppressive stillness. This confinement, however, rapidly becomes a perverse pleasure. It both enervates and intoxicat What the hell did I just read?! It both enervates and intoxicates; there is no desire whatsoever to leave.
The consuming addiction, the taut, closed loop of suspicion, is all. I need to get back into that singularly airless reality, to submerge myself in that relentless inertia once more. The sensation I had upon finishing it reminds me of what I felt after viewing Eraserhead for the first time: Read at your own risk. You may never truly escape. View all 31 comments. Apr 18, Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it Shelves: the-french. From the latter runs a thin vertical thread which increases in size as it rises from the concrete substructure.
It then climbs up the wooden surface, from lath to lath, growing gradually larger until it reaches the window sill. But its progression is not constant: the imbricated arrangement of the boards intercepts its route by a series of equidistant "The shadow of the column, though it is already very long, would have to be nearly a yard longer to reach the little round spot on the flagstones. But its progression is not constant: the imbricated arrangement of the boards intercepts its route by a series of equidistant projections where the liquid spreads out more widely before continuing its ascent.
On the sill itself, the paint has largely flaked off after the streak occurred, eliminating about three-quarters of the red trace. He never refers to himself or use the word I. The first time that I realize that he is in the frame of the scene being described is when there are two people being observed and a third plate on the table. The bus boy brings three glasses further confirming for me that the narrator is actually present and not just bloodshot eyes peering through a window blind.
In French "Jalousie" means both "jealousy" and "blinds". The narrator is the husband of a woman referred to only as A. The other main character in this drama is a neighboring plantation owner named Franck. His wife Christiane is only referred to, but never enters the aperture of the scene. The husband, objectively is recording what he sees for us as he tries to ascertain from minimal information what exactly is going on with his wife and Franck. Because what he relates to us is so devoid of emotional coloring it is as if he is an alien presence and will require human intervention to make sense of what he is seeing.
As you can tell from the opening quote our narrator is aware of structure like an engineer or an architect would describe a man-made structure. Mathematics also plays a role, especially geometry. The narrator is comfortable using mathematical terms to describe what he is seeing. He watches his wife comb her hair. No sooner has it reached the bottom than it quickly rises again toward the head, where the whole surface of its bristles sinks in before gliding down over the black mass again.
The brush is a bone-colored oval whose short hands disappears almost entirely in the hand firmly gripping it.
Half the hair hangs down the back, the other hand pulls the other half over one shoulder. The head leans to the right, offering the hair more readily to the brush. Each time the latter lands at the top of its cycle behind the nape of the neck, the head leans farther to the right and then rises again with an effort, while the right hand, holding the brush moves the opposite direction. The left hand, which loosely confines the hair between the wrist, the palm and the fingers, releases it for a second and then closes on it again, gathering the strands together with a firm, mechanical gesture, while the brush continues its course to the extreme tips of the hair.
Most men when watching their wife comb her hair, especially long hair, would find it a sensual experience.
‘Jealousy’ by Robbe-Grillet
The French title: "la jalousie" is a play on words that can be translated as "jealousy", but also as "the jalousie window ". The jealous husband in the novel spies on his wife through the Venetian blind -like slats of the jalousie windows of their home. La Jalousie is one of critics' and literary theorists' main examples of Robbe-Grillet's demonstrations of his concept of the nouveau roman , for which he later explicitly advocated in his Pour un nouveau roman For a New Novel. Robbe-Grillet argued that the novel was constructed along the lines of an "absent" third-person narrator. In that account of the novel the narrator, a jealous husband, silently observes the interactions of his wife referred to only as "A
For Robbe-Grillet readers had become lazy and were used to being spoon fed information by writers who felt that everything had to be explained, that readers had to not only have the plots and characters motives explained to them but should also be told how they should feel about those plots and character motives. The lacquered table suddenly turns deep blue, like her dress, white floor and the sides of the bathtub. The whole room is plunged into darkness. Their small size, their relative distance, their speed-all the greater the closer they fly to the source of light-keep the shape of their bodies and wings from being recognized. They are merely articles in motion, describing more or less flattened ellipses in horizontal planes or at slight angles, cutting the elongated cylinder of the lamp at various levels.