French novelist and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet died today at 85, AFP reports. A pioneer of the “new novel” literary style, he was best known in the US as the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Last Year at Marienbad (1961). "The Academie Francaise today loses one of its most illustrious members," Nicolas Sarkozy's office said in a statement.
Robbe-Grillet published a series of essays outlining the “new novel,” or nouveau roman, theory in 1963, but elements of the style were present in his first published work, The Erasers, in 1953. The style substitutes traditional narration with methodical, often repetitive descriptions of physical objects in an attempt to realistically imitate conscious thought. Many of his works, including The Erasers, were bestsellers.