La Belle Captive: A Novel

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9780520059160: La Belle Captive: A Novel
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"It begins with a stone falling, in the silence, vertically, immobile. It is falling from a great height, a meteor, a massive, compact, oblong block of rock, like a giant egg with a pocked, uneven surface."

The opening sentence of La Belle Captive introduces a dreamworld where the conventions of the traditional novel have been overthrown. Objects move through space without regard to laws of nature, characters move through the text in a maddening complex of events.

Published in 1975, Alain Robbe-Grillet's nouveau roman is illustrated with 77 paintings by René Magritte. Robbe-Grillet uses Magritte's paintings as pretexts for the novel, letting them generate themes for an imaginary discourse that parallels their imagery, glosses them, contradicts them. Simultaneously, he comments on Magritte's paintings while taking advantage of them to parade his own favorite themes: play, eroticism, subversion. Robbe-Grillet gives us a plot that frustrates expectations yet shares his pleasure with the mysterious and poetic in Magritte's art, and with the cultural myths that painter and novelist both parody.

The book includes a critical essay by novelist and translator Ben Stoltzfus on the pictorial and linguistic affinities between Magritte and Robbe-Grillet. Stoltzfus explores the image of the beautiful captive not only in her mythical and erotic dimensions, but also as a metaphor for the artistic process.

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About the Author:

Alain Robbe-Grillet is one of France's leading New Novelists and avant-garde cinematographers. His work has left an indelible imprint on twentieth-century art. Ben Stoltzfus is Professor Emeritus of French, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. His most recent book is Red, White and Blue (a novel, 1989).

From Publishers Weekly:

Magritte was already dead when Robbe-Grillet wrote their "collaborative" nouveau roman, but there is much of him in it. The title, for one, refers to a series of paintings in each of which a piece of landscape is captured in a painting, set apart from its subject only by the barely visible outline of the stapled canvas. Magritte was also deeply interested in the relationship between words and images (Les Mots et Les Images is the title of his best-known written contribution to surrealism). Robbe-Grillet arranged the surrealist's work (Stoltzfus has supplemented the author's 77 original choices with 21 additional paintings not seen by PW) to inspire a loose narrative of fatal incestuous desire and abduction. The heavy-handed metaphoric descriptions (a hypodermic jammed into the breast of a prone girl) are less interesting than subtler details, like the structure of the second part which depicts a man in a cell forced to read a book that simultaneously creates the narrative?a kind of written version of Magritte's La Belle Captive. Stoltzfus's essay is clearly aimed at an academic audience. And La Belle Captive itself is an example of the nouveau roman at its most obtuse, one best left to those who sat through that famous Robbe-Grillet/Alain Resnais joint venture, L'Annee derniere a Marienbad with no trace of impatience.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780520207073: La Belle Captive: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0520207076 ISBN 13:  9780520207073
Publisher: University of California Press, 1996
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