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Erasers (Oneworld Classics) [Paperback]

Alain Robbe-Grillet
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Oct 2009 Oneworld Classics
After a failed attempt on his life by an unknown terrorist cell, Professor Daniel Dupont decides to fake his own death with the help of Doctor Juard. The government authorities, believing that the attack is part of a series of political assassinations, send Wallas, a recently promoted special investigator, from Paris to the provincial town where the crime took place, which by coincidence he visited as a child. As he wanders the confusing streets of the town, he finds himself increasingly lost in a web of conspiracies, doppelgangers and memories. Cleverly deconstructing the detective-fiction genre, "The Erasers", Alain Robbe-Grillet's first published novel, shifts between various narrators and time frames, while maintaining the suspense of a conventional thriller. The result is an engrossing examination of consciousness and reality which is also one of the founding texts of the Nouveau Roman school.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Classics Ltd (25 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847490948
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847490940
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 643,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Alain Robbe-Grillet is one of the best-known post-war French novelists, the principal theoretician and spokesman of the Nouveau Roman, the most important school of French contemporary fiction that looked at reality in a new subjective way and has changed our conception of the novel.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
'The Erasers' ('Les gommes') was Alain Robbe-Grillet's first published novel. It appeared in French in 1953, and was translated by Richard Howard for Grove Press in 1964. It is this translation, with a few minor adjustments, that is used here.

Robbe-Grillet came to the novel from an unusual angle; his professional background was as an agronomist. Nonetheless, he was clearly a product of the French cultural milieu of his youth, which was dominated philosophically by the figures of Heidegger and Sartre and by the twin movements of phenomenology and existentialism. Robbe-Grillet reacts against these currents but also to some extent confirms them. One might think of him at this stage as a sort of anti-Camus.

The story of 'The Erasers' is a version of the Oedipus myth cast in the form of a noir detective story - the type of tale that was to be so influential on the 'new wave' film makers. As such it is both classically French - something that wasn't much appreciated at the time - and innovative.

The world of Robbe-Grillet's story - a port town, somewhere on the North Sea coast, that in truth might be anywhere in the modern world - is not the anguished world of Camus's absurd or Sartre's existential nausea. For the keen but hapless detective Wallas, seeking the truth about the death of an academic whose assassination may be one of a series of linked outrages committed by an anarchist organisation, this provincial town is an enigma and a bland labyrinth that may conceal an appalling truth; a series of surfaces, objects, itineraries and persons that stubbornly exist in their own right and refuse to symbolise anything or yield to Wallas's forensic powers.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gommes but not forgotten 8 May 2011
By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
A non-linear crime novel set in the 1950's in some unnamed northern French coastal city. The plot involves an anarchist group who kill a string of 'officials' to a strict timetable. The newly-qualified agent Wallas is sent to investigate and the ensuing events are recorded over a 24 hour period.

Very strong on the geography of the city as Wallas yomps around talking to police and witnesses. The type of novel to expect can be illustrated by a scene near the canal, 'the ocean releases its hissing whirlpool of monsters...be careful..if you want to avoid inhaling them..'

The absence of a traditional narrative drive is a refreshing challenge. However, the random insertion of rather pompous, pretentious paragraphs that require constant re-reading is what really grates.

Of course, we also have the enigmatic title. Wallas indulges himself in retail therapy at local stationers and newsagents for the right sort of 'crumbly' pencil eraser. Metaphor for 'to rub out' as in kill?

The novel does boast a nice denouement. It is worthy, at times clever but with a capacity to irritate.
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Amazon.com: 1.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No Joy Within 19 Dec 2012
By C.B. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This trudging narrative unfolds like a slow death in an austere landscape. Creaking, croaking, caliginous, it is instructive only as a model of how to turn the written word into toxic treacle. To be fair, perhaps its decided lack of flow and navigability is a result of translation difficulties, idiomatic expressions without clear cross-cultural parallels. Though it becomes clear upon reading this exercise in pain it is more due to authorial intent and preoccupation. As an example of the nouveau roman style of writing for which Robbe-Grillet militated this work embodies the doctrine he espoused; in regard to the novel he argued against "several obsolete notions" such as character, story and depth. To this end he has succeeded ten-fold. The Erasers is replete with repetitive banal prose while expressly lacking in the obsolete notions of character, story and depth. If your desire is to write prose that will compel the world to bare its fangs in seething repulsion while hurling jagged stones at you, let this novel be your guide. As an anti-story tutorial this work is priceless.
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