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Pushing The Boundaries Of Experimental Literature

807 words - 3 pages

In his essay, “On Several Obsolete Notions,” Alain Robbe-Grillet criticizes the stable characters, linear plotlines, and calculated content which make up the conventional novel. He argues that a novelist does not need to begin a story with its content in mind rather, “the novelist’s strength is precisely that he invents [...] without a model.” And that “invention and imagination become, at the limit, the very subject of the book” (Robbe-Grillet 32). Robbe-Grillet’s notions of the creative process are true in that a successful novelist may not require a formula to write by; instead he may experiment with language for a chance to reveal new ideas. The Nouveau Roman, or “new novel,” is a movement popularized by Robbe-Grillet’s criticisms of the conventional novel. Since the conventional form of narrative has been perfected by writers in such a way that it is easily accessible and enjoyed by the mainstream community. Writers were prompted to push boundaries, formally and stylistically, to create new innovative ways to tell a story. However, experimental fiction does not necessarily aim to tell a story but uses form, mood and style to create an ‘effect.’ This effect may intend to evoke the reader’s emotions, or to simply oppose conventional norms of literature. The problem with experimental literature is that it draws away from the act of storytelling itself. Therefore it is a writers’ job to find innovative ways to craft a story, without pushing boundaries for the sake of shock value, or to play devil’s advocate.
As opposed to the realist and naturalist movements which proceeded, experimental literature puts forth the notion that content is subordinate to the form of the text. Experimental novelists such as, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Dan Farrell, use inventive language and form to test the boundaries of the modern novel, and create what is known as the ‘antinovel.’ However, these three novelists have different styles of experimentation. While Robbe-Grillet’s literary work takes the form of a classic postmodern Nouveau Roman, Goldsmith and Farrell’s work is considered conceptual or “uncreative” poetics which fuse “the avant-garde impulses of the last century with the technologies of the present” (Goldsmith 138). The conceptual form of work presented by these novelists can still be examined on the basis of Robbe-Grillet’s argument, form over content. But these are extreme cases of experimentation. In “A Week of Blogs for the Poetry Foundation,” Kenneth Goldsmith argues that “contemporary...

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