Robbe-Grillet bit of a show-off

In his Slate conversation with Jim Lewis, Jeffrey Eugenides rails against a specific type of novel he not unproblematically labels multicultural that, he says, typically uses a ‘marriage plot’:

The societies under examination are conservative, religious, still bound by custom and tradition. And so—voilà—you can be an Indian novelist or a Jordanian novelist and still avail yourself of the greatest subject the novel has ever had. Arranged marriages, dowries, social stigma at divorce—it’s all back again, in perfect working order.

This doesn’t mean that these novels can’t be enjoyable. I don’t blame them for using the marriage plot. But using it in the way they do has consequences. Though these books are coming out now, they’re already at least a hundred years old.

And in discussing avant-gardism’s uneasy relationship to popularity, he points out how Alain Robbe-Grillet, in interview:

made many marvelous, witty remarks. But one thing that struck me was how much he kept insisting that his books sold well. At one point he even got up to show the interviewer a picture of the chateau he bought with his royalties.

Hmm. I’m quite impressed. Then again, you can probably pick up a French chateau for about the price of a Manhattan studio.

Via Mark at TEV.


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