The Realistic Illusion

“All writers believe they are realists. … The discovery of reality will continue only if we abandon outworn forms. … Academic criticism in the West, as in the Communist countries, employs ‘realism’ as if reality were already entirely constituted (whether for good and all, or not) when the writer comes on the scene. Thus it supposes that the latter’s role is limited to ‘explaining’ and to ‘expressing’ the reality of his period. … The style of the novel does not seek to inform, as does the chronicle, the testimony offered in evidence, or the scientific report, it constitutes reality. It never knows what it is seeking, it is ignorant of what it has to say; it is invention, invention of the world and man, constant invention and perpetual interrogation. … I do not translate, I construct. This had been even the old ambition of Flaubert: to make something out of nothing, something that would stand alone, without having to lean on anything external to the work; today this is the ambition of the novel as a whole. …”
Alain Robbe-Grillet, “From Realism to Reality,” Towards a New Novel

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