Exhibits a sensibility as nervous and contemporarynot to mention wittyas that of any novelist working today. . . . Objects play as dramatic a role in Repetition as do characters. . . . Following the clues of objects and the evolution of their relationships is part of the pleasure . . . This novel packs in plenty of the old Robbe-Grillet, including erotic-sadistic passages decidedly not for the faint of heart.” Kai Maristed, The Los Angeles Times
978-0-8021-4057-9 • $13.00 • Paperback • Mar. 2004
Repetition is the first novel in twenty years from Alain Robbe-Grillet, the legendary founder of the nouveau roman traditiongroundbreaking works combining high literature, genre fiction, and an exploration into consciousnessin the 1950s and who remains one of the most influential writers of the last half-century. It is a triumphant accomplishment, an atmospheric spy novel of violence, espionage, and tricks of the eye, set in the crumbling cityscape of postwar Berlin.
It is 1949. A special agent of the French secret service, Henri Robin, is aboard a train to Berlin, on a special mission of an undisclosed nature. In what could be Graham Greene’s The Third Man or a Hitchcock film, he crosses national borders and shuffles aliases with a false mustache and multiple sets of identity papers. Pulling into the station and preparing to meet his contact, Robin is alarmed by a disturbing glimpse of his own doppelganger. As Robin’s time in Berlin unfolds, it becomes clear that nothing is what it seems. A shooting, a kidnapping, encounters with pimps and teenage whores, druggings, police interrogations, and torture arise in a mysterious, ever-more-dreamlike sequence, as an unnamed interlocutor points out inconsistencies in Robin’s own story. As vague memoriesa childhood trip to Berlin with his mother, perhaps looking for his father?spring from ordinary images and objects, Robin’s days in Berlin become a labyrinth of present and past haunted by echoes of Proust and Oedipus. But ultimately, to whom do these memories belong? And who, after all, is Robin?
A brilliantly executed novel in prose of an almost hallucinatory richness, Repetition is proof that Robbe-Grillet’s vision is, in a time of identity theft and porous nationhood, more relevant than ever.