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Alain Robbe-Grillet (Brest, August 18, 1922 – Caen, February 18, 2008) was a French writer and filmmaker. He was the main theorist and animator of the literary movement called nouveau roman (translated as a new novel).
He was born in Brest; his parents were Gaston Robbe-Grillet, creator of a modest carton company, and Yvonne Canu, from the Brest area. They soon went to live in Paris, where Alain studied at the Lycee Saint-Louis, although the summers went to the Breton coast or the Jura, where his father was from. He graduated in agronomy during the Occupation, and in the last year of the war was in a field of work in Germany, forced by the occupants.As an agronomist by profession, he traveled through Morocco, Guinea, Martinique or Guadeloupe in 1949 to 1951. Then, he abandoned it to devote himself to literature.
In 1953 he published in the publishing house Les Éditions de Minuit Les gommes, his first work with that narrative intention, which won the Prix Fénéon. He received very favorable reviews from Jean Cayrol and Roland Barthes, with whom he will have great friendship for life.
In 1954 Le Voyeur appeared and was awarded the Prix des critiques in 1955. He became friends with Jérôme Lindon, director of Les Éditions de Minuit, of which he was a literary consultant for thirty years, from 1955 to 1985.
In 1963 he published Pour a Nouveau Roman, a compilation of his articles published mostly in the weekly L’Express, which made him the theoretician of that literary movement, whose name -Nouveau Roman- was created by a critic of Le Monde, who did not understand the group. Robbe-Grillet will say that he did not understand that Claude Simon was coming from Faulkner, Michel Butor from Joyce and himself from Kafka.
He also wrote important screenplays, such as El año pasado en Marienbad, directed by Alain Resnais in 1961. And very soon he was himself a film director, highlighting in his filmography -10 films- The Immortal, Playing with Fire or La beautiful captive.
He did not enter politics into his literature, but he did sign up for the independence of Algeria in the years of confrontation. In his biographical work El espejo que vuelve he made several critical evaluations of his own work and of the fashions of his time, as well as the story of his very conservative family’s ideology, which gave a remarkable image of his opposition. p>
From 1966 to 1968, Alain Robbe-Grillet collaborated with the Haut committee pour la défense et l’expansion de la langue française (High Committee for the Defense and Expansion of the French Language). From 1972 to 1997, he was a professor in the United States, at the University of New York (NYU) and at Washington University in Saint-Louis (Missouri). He also directed the Center for the Sociology of Literature at the University of Brussels, between 1980 and 1988.
Alain Robbe-Grillet was elected a member of the French Academy of the Language on March 25, 2004 but never took his seat at the time of considering the mandatory investiture ceremony and compulsory dress. , on February 18, 2008, because of a heart attack.
He was married since 1957 to the writer Catherine Robbe-Grillet, also known under the pseudonym Jeanne de Berg. She is a fundamental figure throughout her life, and was also a collaborator: she worked as an actress and assistant in several films, from La Immortal (1963) and Trans-Europ-Express (1966).
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