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Sarraute (Cherniak), Nathalie


SARRAUTE (Cherniak), NATHALIE (1900–1999), French novelist. Born in Ivanova-Vosnesensk, Russia, into an assimilated Jewish family, Nathalie Sarraute was taken to France at the age of two. She practiced as a lawyer until the Nazi occupation in 1940, when she joined the French underground. Her literary career began rather late. She had studied philology at the universities of Oxford and Berlin, and in 1938 published Tropismes (Eng. tr. 1967), a series of cameos which constituted a criticism of language and a condemnation of subject matter as such in the novel. Her own first novel, however, did not appear until 1944. Entitled Portrait d'un inconnu, it attracted much attention. particularly that of Sartre. Nathalie Sarraute is recognized as one of the initiators of the modern school known as "le nouveau roman," which counted Alain Robbe-Grillet and Michel Butor among its best-known younger members. Her novels Martereau (1953; Eng. 1967), Le Planetarium (1959, 19682), and Les Fruits d'or (1963), do not relate any story or describe any events, and in fact represent the trend of the anti-novel. Their aim is to reveal a reality which is both beneath and beyond the everyday, obvious reality of the traditional and existentialist novel. The author stated her views on the novel in a series of essays, L'Ere du soupçon (1956; The Age of Suspicion, 1967). For a time she abandoned the novel and wrote two radio plays, Le Silence and Le Mensonge (published in one volume, 1967); but in Entre la vie et la mort (1968), using literary circles as a setting, she reverted to her basic form. Later novels included L'Usage de la parole (1980) and Tu ne t'aimes pas (1989). Her autobiography, Enfance, appeared in 1983. Nathalie Sarraute, a liberal leftist, eventually adopted an openly pro-Israel stand and paid a lengthy visit to the country in 1969.


M. Kranakē, Nathalie Sarraute (Fr., 1965), incl. bibl.; J. Jaccard, Nathalie Sarraute (Fr., 1967); R. Micha, Nathalie Sarraute (Fr., 1966). add. bibliography: S. Barbour, Nathalie Sarraute and the Feminist Reader (1993); H. Watson-Williams, The Novels of Nathalie Sarraute (1981); B. Knapp, Nathalie Sarraute (1994); E. O'Beirne, Reading Nathalie Sarraute: Dialogue and Distance (1999).

[Arnold Mandel]

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