By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 19, 2008
PARIS (AP) Alain Robbe-Grillet, an author and filmmaker who was one
of France's most important avant-garde writers in the 1950s, died on
Monday. He was 85.
He died at a hospital in western France where he had been admitted
over the weekend for cardiac problems, officials said.
As a novelist, Mr. Robbe-Grillet helped establish the New Novel, a
genre that rejected conventional storytelling. As a screenwriter, he
was best known for his work on Alain Resnais's "Last Year at
Marienbad" (1961), for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
An enigmatic work whose characters, often bored and identified only
by initials, live in an otherworldly chateau, not sure whether they
are planning seductions or remembering them, "Last Year in Marienbad"
was released in the United States in early 1962 and became one of the
most talked-about art films of the year.
Among the films Mr. Robbe-Grillet directed himself were
"L'Immortelle" ("The Immortal") (1963), "Trans-Europ-Express" (1967)
and "Eden and After" (1970).
He was the most prominent of France's so-called New Novelists, a
group that emerged in the mid-1950s whose other members included
Claude Simon, Michel Butor and Nathalie Sarraute. Their experimental
work tossed aside literary conventions like plot and character
development, narrative and chronology, chapters and punctuation.
Mr. Robbe-Grillet's best-known works of fiction include "Les Gommes"
("The Erasers"), a 1953 novel about a detective investigating an
apparent murder who ends up killing the victim, and "Le Voyeur"
(1955), about the world seen through the eyes of a sadistic killer.
His last novel, published last year, was "Un Roman Sentimental" ("A
In 1963 he wrote "Pour un Nouveau Roman" ("Toward a New Novel"), a
highly regarded critical essay laying the theoretical foundations of
the genre. It became the French avant-garde's bible and catapulted
Mr. Robbe-Grillet to star status among Parisian intellectuals.
Mr. Robbe-Grillet was born in Brest, France, the son of an engineer.
He graduated from the Lycée St.-Louis in Paris and received a degree
in agricultural engineering from the National Agronomy Institute.
Information about survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Robbe-Grillet was inducted into France's Legion of Honor and was
one of the 40 so-called immortals of the prestigious Académie
Française, the anointed protector of the French language.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement, "The Académie
Française today loses one of its most illustrious members, and
without a doubt its most rebellious."