Pushing the Boundaries of Experimental Literature Essay

Pushing the Boundaries of Experimental Literature Essay

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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, K...


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...with Robbe-Grillet on the basis that writing is an art form which is constantly changing. Writers must adapt their writing style in order to intrigue and inspire their audiences. Experimental literature is the answer for writers who want to push the boundaries of the conventional text to create an original art piece. However, movements, such as Kenneth Goldsmith’s self-indulgent idea of conceptual poetics may devalue previous understandings of originality. As a result, writers will begin pushing boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries. This creates the reverse effect: originality will become unoriginal. Furthermore, literature has always been a way of archiving history, whether writing is fact or fiction it tells our story to future generations. If conceptual writing continues to be form without content all that will remain is a copy, of a copy, of a copy.

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