Alain Robbe-Grillet is often regarded as the leader of the French New Novel, a 20th century literary movement breaking with literary realism. A former scientist, Robbe-Grillet invents a new Real, where imagination, memories, fantasies and dreams are given a power somehow superior to that of tangible reality. The text becomes a laboratory, where the author performs experiments with language. Runs, a proliferating intertextuality and constant slidings in the text often mislead the reader. Moreover, and especially since the publishing of three pseudo-autobiographical books, Robbe-Grillet blurs the relation between the concepts of author, narrator and character, making it difficult to seize the Subject at work in an often ironical text. This text appears as a protective and self-defensive envelope of words, and recalls a motherly entity, a fantasy of self-engenderment.
Nevertheless, self-defense underlies a feeling of guilt. According to Roland Barthes, writers, handling the mother-tongue, could be regarded as playing with the body of the mother, an activity that criticism often connects to what psycho-analysis calls an OEdipus complex.
However controversial the psycho-analytical approach of literature may be, the Robbe-Grillet text invites and justifies such a reading. Sado-erotic fantasies, fetishism, clear allusions to Freudian or Lacanian themes reinforce the idea that psychoanalysis is one of the main threads in the Robbe-Grillet discourse. Meanwhile, many traps in the text tend to deconstruct psycho-analytical criticism. Robbe-Grillet claims he is conscious that he lives in what he calls a "post-freudian society" and denies psycho-analysis as an authority.
One could consider psycho-analysis as religion, another target of the Robbe-Grillet text, patriarchal authorities defining a certain number of taboos, among them that of incest. Yet, the attacks against them can be understood as an ultimate attempt to destroy the father-image, and expose a genuine search for the lost paradise of the womb.
Through an analysis of the relation to the Real, the function of intertextuality, guilt and the psychoanalytical discourse in Robbe-Grillet's works from Un régicide to Les Derniers Jours de Corinthe, this study tries to establish that the exposition of incest, even under cover of an implicit critique of psychoanalysis, is still a way to keep the fantasy alive; in other words, to go from the couch to the bed and not the opposite.
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 1998. , 189 p.
1998-12-12, Ihresalen, Språkvetenskapligt centrum, Villavägen 4, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:00