The short prose pieces comprising the collection, SNAPSHOTS, are studies in literary objectivity and minimalism.
Honing his craft in post-war France, Alain Robbe-Grillet sought to strip from his work the hallmarks of French literature, indeed, nearly all of the literary conventions thought to add color and depth and psychological insight to prose. Instead, Robbe-Grillet endeavored to develop new techniques-largely based in visual observation-that would present scenes and characters and situations stripped of the customary subjectivity seemingly inherent in authorship, and the linear plotlines typically associated with fiction.
The short pieces collected here, written between 1954 and 1962, demonstrate Robbe-Grillet's urge to experiment with a reductive technique. At the same time, the author adumbrates many of the themes that characterize his later and more fully developed works like JEALOUSY, THE VOYEUR, IN THE LABYRINTH--classics of the "nouveau roman."
In this translation by Bruce Morrissette, the prose is stripped down to a level that makes Hemingway seem rococo by comparison.
The pieces-one hesitates to call them stories-present scenes coldly and objectively, yet they also reveal Robbe-Grillet's erotic obsessions and his skillfully concealed manipulation of the reader's point-of-view. Despite the author's professed desire to "trust" the reader, he often cunningly and covertly rigs the game so that the reader must engage in mental twists and turns to visualize such subtle complexities as a mirror reflecting the contents of a room ("The Dressmaker's Dummy"), or a landscape mirrored on the surface of a pool of rainwater ("The Wrong Direction").
In the pieces, "Scene," "The Way Back" and "The Shore," the author opens up a bit to add snatches of dialogue, but the sketches in SNAPSHOTS largely describe a silent world. Even in the three pieces describing the movements of a crowd contained in the section "In the Corridors of the Metro" seem like...