There are about ten pages here in which a succession of short, separated paragraphs evoke a certain moody and effective torpor--and then Robbe-Grillet promptly steps in to break it up: ""We've had enough of outings into the country, voyages, adjectives and metaphors. We tried that for fun; it wasn't much fun."" C'est vrai, but it was, while it lasted, at least intelligible, an adjective which the rest of this book actively discourages. R-G's method has reached the stage of the purely ideogrammatic: he uses description to prove that description can't add up. What he's after, in this ""illusionist painting,"" is the ""motionless ritual of violence and representation."" The story, if we may be so vulgar, seems to involve an erotics of sight: seeing a destroyed city (whether modern or ancient is deliberately confused) in which young virgins are ritually deflowered and then murdered. A certain composed, hypnotic fascination, like a de Chirico painting's, does intermittently appear as R-G details cityscapes and still-lifes and photographs and plays all imaginary and all unclear; but the meaninglessness, the crushing ambiguity, the pleasure it takes in its own text, finally makes this a sere, soulless experience, a kind of tony trashing of art by a clever, even brilliant, ideologue--but a bully all the same.