La Belle Captive: A Novel

Overview

Alain Robbe-Grillet's La Belle Captive was published in 1975 and illustrated with 77 paintings by Rene Magritte. Robbe-Grillet has not chosen Magritte's paintings to mirror his text. Rather, he uses them as pretexts for the novel, letting them generate themes for an imaginary discourse that parallels their imagery, glosses them, contradicts them. Robbe-Grillet simultaneously comments on Magritte's paintings while taking advantage of them to parade his own favorite themes: play, eroticism, subversion. Magritte's ...
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Overview

Alain Robbe-Grillet's La Belle Captive was published in 1975 and illustrated with 77 paintings by Rene Magritte. Robbe-Grillet has not chosen Magritte's paintings to mirror his text. Rather, he uses them as pretexts for the novel, letting them generate themes for an imaginary discourse that parallels their imagery, glosses them, contradicts them. Robbe-Grillet simultaneously comments on Magritte's paintings while taking advantage of them to parade his own favorite themes: play, eroticism, subversion. Magritte's rejection of illusionistic perspective and his transgressions of the normal boundaries between animal, mineral, and vegetable worlds, - rocks float like clouds, birds grow like leaves - is analogous to Robbe-Grillet's rejection of the conventions of fiction. In place of storyline, plot, and flesh-and-blood characters, Robbe-Grillet gives us a fragmented discourse, a plot that frustrates expectations, and a proliferation of characters whose identities remain problematic. The technique emphasizes the story of telling rather than the telling of a story. As readers of La Belle Captive we are invited to join in an inventive new game, unifying the separate entities, making the pictures speak and the text see. We share Robbe-Grillet's pleasure in the mysterious, poetic, and ludic in Magritte's art, and play with the cultural myths that painter and novelist both parody.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This collaborative nouveau roman about a woman's abduction features reproductions of 77 paintings by Magritte. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Robbe-Grillet, one of the creators of the nouveau roman, has interpolated 77 paintings of the surrealist Ren Magritte into this imaginative, unusual detective story. On a superficial level, the work concerns a beautiful young virgin who is abducted, taken to a canning factory, raped with a baluster, and drowned. Though the paintings do not correspond directly to the story, they become metaphors for aspects of the author's themes of play, eroticism, and subversion. Robbe-Grillet allows the reader to become involved in the creation of the story by searching for analogies. Of great interest is the essay by translator Stoltzfus, "The Elusive Heroine," which enriches the reader's understanding of the symbolism used. Also useful is an appendix delineating the novel's plot. Combining interpretation with the novel itself makes this work much more accessible to nonspecialists. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520207073
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/9/1996
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 8.52 (w) x 10.99 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet 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).

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