Last Year at Marienbad
by Alain Robbe-Grillet
London: John Calder, 1962. First edition. 12mo large (20×13,5cm), printed card wrappers. 152pp. Translated by Richard Howard. Text in English. Light foxing to fore-edge, endpapers and title page with mild creasing and rubbing to spine. Former owner’s name in ink on fly leaf, and pressure marks on the top corner, which runs through the book. Still a solid very good copy. Scarce in the first printing.
In the winter of 1959 the producers Pierre Courau and Raymond Froment approached Alain Robbe-Grillet, if he would like to meet Alain Resnais with the eventual idea of writing for him.
Robbe-Grillet, by this time already one of France‘s most influential young novelists and leader of the Nouveau Roman, a movement that emerged just before the Nouvelle Vague of French cinema, agreed to a meeting with Resnais. At this meeting, Robbe-Grillet and Resnais talked about the linear storylines of old-fashioned cinema with its chain of all-too- expected events. Both were searching for an alternative approach, more similar to the mind that skips certain passages and repeats and doubles itself.
Inspired by Adolfo Bioy Casares‘ Invention of Morel, Robbe-Grillet began to write not a story but a direct screenplay, a shot-by-shot description of the film as he imagined it, frame by frame, with the corresponding dialogue and sound. L’Année dernière a Marienbad was shot in 1961 by Alain Resnais, which combined the Nouveau Roman with the Nouvelle Vague, breaking with traditional structures of time more radically than any other film before.
Last Year At Marienbad opens with an introduction by Alain Robbe-Grillet about his collaboration with Resnais and his intentions in writing this ciné-novel. It contains the entire script, just like Robbe-Grillet presented it to Resnais, accompanied with various images. A wonderful companion to the film.