Les Gommes (book review) Alain Robbe-Grillet

130519 read in french: i have read this before in translation years (decades...) past, 3rd r-g i think. since then have read some litcrit, more r-g, arguments that this shows his early development past 'un regicide'. also that this is avant-garde treatment of detective crime subgenre: the failed detective, where investigation seems plausible, believable, redemptive etc... but everything ends wrong, crime not solved, criminals never caught, faith in reason derailed etc. in lit, examples include auster's [book:The New York Trilogy|431], durrenmatt's [book:The Pledge|73480]. famous film is 'chinatown'. so, fun literary games. but then i have never been as interested in solutions, detection, resolution etc, as in 'mystery', rather portraits of why the crime and psychology described how...


i enjoy again working on my french. more fun than reading dictionaries... r-g is not yet stylistically 'peak', for me, but part of obsessive mapping of this city, 'the circular boulevard', the intersecting streets, canals, careful reconstruction of crime/detective search, when now, when then, has dual function of r-g avant-garde poetics and detective-fiction presentation of just the facts, madame. perhaps this draws unwary readers into games of detection, but of course who did it is never as important as how the investigation is told. not my fun. but as far as reading it in french, this was good for vocabulary, grammar... but as i was always busy working on words, i may have lost the plot....


i read one assertion that r-g goes further than disrupting faith of the reader in detective, detecting, reason, time, place, as usual 'failed detective', but also subtly/subversively, undermines even the closest reader (lit critics) of the value of embedded 'symbols', of 'signs' in general, pointing to anything, myth, science, art theory etc, outside the work to explain it. eg. why is this called 'les gommes' (the erasers)?... careful with your reading... not my favourite r-g in either french or english but probably essental to read if you read him...


about buried symbols of Oedipal reference,.. i think it is sroltzfus’s criticism that suggests this is actually an example of r-g deliberately misleading close textual readers (critics) by offering an incoherent but plausible ‘mythic resonance’ against r-g’s insistence that there is nothing- absolutely nothing- outside the text giving it ‘meaning’... thus frustrating the literary detective in all those lit-critics... but then who is an author to say what is or is not meaningful in his work: it is there, he wrote it, he has now no more privileged critical insight than anyone else...

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

An Introduction to Henri Bergson 220701: (this is eleven years later reread) recent read (220625)[book:Bergson’s Philosophy of Self-Overcoming: Thinking without Negativity or Time as Striving|52736601

140718: this is read 3 times. this is the book that made his name. it has been translated but i do not know how: a lot of the pleasure is in the voice, the unique version of Nigerian english used, per

if you like this review, i now have website: www.michaelkamakana.com 220611: this is probably the most academically accurate of the translations I have read of this book, but still prefer commentary o