Well, since I decided to join the Wolves on their reading of Sarraute’s The Planetarium, and since Mr Richard at caravanaderecuerdos has convinced himself I’m an expert of the nouveau roman and will be expecting some expert opinion from me, I’ve decided I better read up on it a bit – and what better way than another futile project (and a list!)?
Of course, we come to the immediate problem – what the hell is the nouveau roman? – A question I shall approach by the Josipovici method of re-defining the nouveau roman to be what I want it to be, and then telling everyone else they’re wrong. So my definition of the nouveau roman is, that it must be either:
- A French novel written post-1950, commonly understood to be a nouveau roman.
- A French novel written post-1950, commonly misunderstood to be a nouveau roman, or which could be argued as such.
- A precursor of either 1) or 2)
- Anything French, post-1950, which has been translated by either a) Dalkey Archive, or b) John Calder
- Julio Cortázar
Right, now we’ve got our definition straight, here’s what I’m reading:
- Jealousy, by Alain Robbe-Grillet (John Calder)
- The Flanders Road, by Claude Simon (John Calder) and one of either Conducting Bodies (John Calder) or Triptych (John Calder)
- The Mise-en-Scène, by Claude Ollier (Dalkey Archive)
- The Planetarium, by Nathalie Sarraute (John Calder), and one of either or both of Vous les Entendez? (Gallimard) and Disent les Imbéciles (Gallimard)
- Moderato Cantabile, by Marguerite Duras (Les Éditions de Minuit)
- The Hermit, by Eugène Ionesco (John Calder)
- Zazie dans le Métro, by Raymond Queneau (Penguin Modern Classics)
- Cronus’ Children, by Yves Navarre (John Calder)
- Life, A User’s Manual, by Georges Perec (Harvill)
- Street Girl, by Muriel Cerf (John Calder)
- Pélagie-la-charrette, by Antonine Maillet (Doubleday)
- Locus Solus, by Raymond Roussel (Kindle Edition – French (and free!))
- Paris Peasant, by Louis Aragon (Picador)
- Some stuff by Jean Cocteau which I can’t currently find
- Blow-Up and Other Stories, by Julio Cortázar (Pantheon), and possibly also Hopscotch (Rayuela)
- French Fiction Revisited, by Leon S Roudiez (Dalkey Archive) – a non-fiction survey
- Oh, and maybe some Beckett, eh? – Perhaps Molloy.
- An odd OuLiPo book I bought last year for 99p whose name and author I’ve forgotten. (Oh yeah, the author was Jacques Jouet).
And, if I can summon the interest, I might have another go at Philippe Sollers’ Women. More Ionesco will probably be read in another as yet unstated project. I’m feeling the only major figure of the nouveau roman I don’t have is Michel Butor – if I find any in my wanderings, I’m sure to add him. (Robert Pinget has annoyed me enough that I’m not going back to him). – So I have to do all this by the end of November, which sounds unlikely – but let’s face it, a lot of these books are quite short.