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Intersexual Rivalry

A 'Reading in Pairs' of Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet

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Julia Waters

Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet are two of the most prominent and influential writers of mid- to late-twentieth-century France. Not only has their constant questioning of the conventions of traditional, realist literature reflected the major preoccupations of recent avant-garde literary history, but their ground-breaking works have also been central to the creation and development of some of the most powerful critical theories of the period.
Critics have tended to study Duras and Robbe-Grillet within the largely mutually exclusive theoretical discourses of feminism and structuralism, so overlooking the extensive and fruitful areas of common ground between them. This book uncovers evidence of a career-long intersexual literary rivalry between the two writers, which reached a peak following the phenomenal success of Duras's L'Amant in 1984. By reading together chronological pairs of novels by Duras and Robbe-Grillet from throughout their parallel careers, the author sheds new light on both writers' works, rethinks certain received critical assumptions, and offers a new model, 'reading in pairs', for the study of male and female writers.
Contents: Novels of Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet - Literary history of mid- to late-twentieth-century France - Literary theory - Psychoanalysis (Lacan), feminism, structuralism (Barthes) - Harold Bloom's 'anxiety of influence' - Nouveau Roman - Rise of feminism and gender debate - Eroticism and pornography - Autobiography - Influence of mass media - Gender studies.