THE ERASERS by Alain Robbe-Grillet


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Robbe-Grillet's first novel, published 10 years ago, has a ""special agent"" investigating an alleged murder in the provinces; after a series of perplexing clues, which nod back and forth like a pendulum, the agent unwittingly commits the murder himself, the man murdered being none other than his dad. Thus the wedding of Greek tragedy and roman policier. The Oedipus parallels- a Theban photo, a drunk heckling the agent with the Sphinx's riddle, an eraser bearing the brand name Oedipe-are rendered with that peculiar passivity known now as the ""new novel,"" or more aptly, especially in Robbe-Grillet's case, littÉrature objective. Chronological indifference, repetition of incidents or dialogue, atmospheric minutiae like real estate specifications, cinematic jump-shots, characters devoid of characterization-these are the anti-tradition techniques, and they are used here more or less in a trial run, whereby, ironically, the most effective bits resemble Cocteau's incantatory qualities or Hitchcock's visual suspense. Giving great weight to Husserlian ""intentionality,"" Robbe-Grillet presents consciousness as consciousness of things, a tick-tocking of pure perceptivity, with no conscience. Such a stance, in later works, has proven significant, in the sense that a scientific ""discovery"" is significant. It has also proved boring; The Erasers is largely, ineradicably that.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1964
Publisher: Grove