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The Voyeur Paperback – February 10, 1994

18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (February 10, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802131654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802131652
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
If the american reading public wanted to one-up the chill factor in reading, this would be a great place to start. Who "the voyeur" even is is up to debate. Is it the little girl who may have seen the murder? Or is it the salesman? At any rate a good read because it is extremely eerie and makes Stephen King's prose look very banal. If one reads it within a few days the effect is much more powerful: The book is very subliminal, and is very much like dreaming while awake. What is missing is what makes it alluring, though in truth we know who is guilty... the book is very much projected onto the reader; what role you play in the book is given an edge: You are forced to be literary critic. I have read that some critics call attention to a particulary shocking section (Stravrogin's confession) in Dostoevsky's "The Devils" which was at first censored in Russia. A murder mystery with philosophical tones just barely creeping under the surface; always a plus in any murder mystery. Such an anomalous book it will not leave your brain anytime soon.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "ncodyjapan" on July 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
A novel that is meant to be reread after the initial reading. The enjoyment that comes with reading and rereading it will come from solving the puzzle. The novel proposes questions that the curious will want to answer. Who is Mathias? Did he murder Jacqueline? Who is this other girl Violet? What is the difference between fact and fiction in the novel? Unlike ordinary writers of suspense or mystery stories, Robbe-Grillet does not give away the answers. Like another great writer, Vladimir Nabokov, Robbe-Grillet knows his readers will get more joy from discovering the answers for themselves.
The hints, like details begging to be noticed and solved, are sprinkled throughout the novel. Remember the billboard that reads "Monsieur X On The Double Circuit." Mathias can't make sense of it, guessing (wrongly) that it must be about some movie, a coming-attraction, a thriller. Mathias is Monsieur X; the double circuit is the island, the plot.
If others want to offer answers I will check back to read them. I'm not sure of my own conclusions yet. I have some rereading to do first.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on January 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel seems much longer than it actually is. The "action" is dragged out and you begin to find Mathias' obsessive plans to sell his watches tedious, but there is something oddly compelling about it that makes you read on. Lingering behind his figure eight strategies is the death of a disreputable girl and this is what keeps you on the edge of your seat, sick with worry and anxiety. Even though we are following Mathias incredibly closely in all his movements we still don't feel we know him. This is largely because we are made to understand that Mathias doesn't know anything about himself. There is a distinction made between "the salesman" and Mathias. It indicates there is an impersonal aspect to him we will never know. He is constantly being made into an impersonal and stereotypical type of person and the reader is forced to search for details that will connect him with a personal experience. His past is portrayed as an impenetrable muddy mess. "it was useless trying to stir up his memories, he didn't even know what he should be looking for." You gather that the world will in a sense always remain unknowable because of our limited personal perspective. In a sense each person's perception causes harm to what they perceive by limiting it by our own values and labels. This is the murderer and the mystery is how to disassemble our own code of perception. This novel is a fascinating exploration of these ideas and a pleasure to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on February 25, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Voyeur (Le Voyeur) was Robbe-Grillet's second published work.

Much like The Erasers, The Voyeur deconstructs a genre story (murder mystery) into a set of descriptions and commonplaces, freeing the crime itself from any psychology or motive. Robbe-Grillet tells us a story without giving us an authoritative ending and without bothering to explain any of the back story at which the text hints.

The language and the flow of text is fascinating, even in translation. The prose flows around the plot, as we see the main character's moments and ideas over and over again-- never sure if something is being revisited or if the beat is just similar to the ones that came before.

This book is often packaged as a "typical" murder mystery, which it is not. The text is often quite demanding and I found myself scrambling to make sure that I had read things correctly. It will need re-reading before I really begin to grasp it, I believe. Luckily, this should not be a painful task.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robbe-Grillet sets a beautiful scene for us: a protagonist (a man who we never really understand as we are only given the description of what his eyes see, never his inner thoughts), named Mathias, whose returning to his childhood town (some costal, french island, vividly imaged by the author), with the intent to sell watches (Mathias is a traveling watch salesman) to the natives of this picturesque town, only to be caught up in what one can describe as a guilt-stricken, possibly delusional self-assumption of the murder of a young girl which may or may not have happened.

This novel has no resolution. Scenes merge in and out of each-other like vague traces of dreams: suddenly you are in a room looking at the checkered tiles, the varnished chest near the bed, the layer of dust on the table you have just sat down on, the checkered tiles, the woman bringing you coffee (but weren't you just in your bedroom?).

This is sort of the way robbe Grillet lays out his story. In my own opinion, I think it has more to do with bringing the reader within himself to question his own perception of reality then to create a classic novel. Every one who reads this book from front to back will have his own opinion on some symbolism, message, meaning, not-meaning, purpose or function this book serves.

The idea of the Noveau Roman was to deconstruct the typical novel into the harsh realty of life (in the existentialist point of view) as man, inside of himself, separated from the world around him, and faced with a cancerous detachment from the absurdity of the lifeless objects around him... Left only to his perception, as even his thoughts have betrayed him.

The novel succeeds in creating a world outside of time or the laws of realty.
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