I’m using a mass-market paperback with a cracked binding that I bought new sometime around 1975. The front matter says that this Evergreen Black Cat edition of 1968 was in its third printing, but I didn’t know about Robbe-Grillet until I picked up a copy of Snapshots in a bookstore in Evanston. In my first reading(s), I marked words and phrases with two colors of ink in an attempt to keep my narrative bearings. I don’t use pen any more on my books: I like the opportunity to efface the evidence of some fatuous inference of mine from the past. Some of the passages that I marked, I have no idea why I found them to be significant. Anyway, as an exercise in reflexive found poetry, here are all the phrases that I underlined or circled from that trip through the book 20-plus years ago, in the order that they appear in the text. I omit sidebars for longer passages and my own inane annotations.
a day in early winter
Today is Tuesday
That was yesterday
how much stranger it is that he is not dead
“Look at the paper”
the text… Lazarus will rise from his tomb, wrapped in his shroud
footsteps… on the surface of the sea
“which can not prevent…”
“Tuesday, October 27”
There is no victim
his watch… stops every once in a while… and then starts again
life has not yet begun
between yesterday and tomorrow there is no place left for the present
they all fall into place in good order
the roadway behind him comes apart
This is what making up stories gets you into.
curves south by a series of imperceptible angles
Already people were saying that he mistrusted easy solutions, now it is whispered that he ceased to believe in the existence of any solution whatever.
five to eight
“I could, if I had the body at my disposal”
“You see, your facts aren’t so exact after all!”
“Why the first person? Suppose the murderer had slept there last night, what would you know about it?”
If only the cartridge shell had been found too.
The death of Daniel Dupont is no more than an abstract event being discussed by dummies.
“they cut the telephone wires”
“at least two hours to clean the bedspread”
the bedspread has been changed
one bullet has already been fired
“Did Monsieur Dupont shoot at the man running away?” he asks, although he knows the answer in advance: when Dupont came back with his revolver, the murderer had disappeared.
two o’clock train
it still shows seven-thirty
bronze clock… also stopped
he is not the same man any more
[as if this] overexactitude were possible only in a painting
already half turned around… latch
third-story window… several times
Fabius, having closed the garden gate behind him
notices someone odd watching him… third-story window
“Don’t tell me too many details; you’ll end up making me think I saw the whole thing.”
The scene will be over.
the manager will go on staring into space
closes the door behind him with a thousand precautions
some fifteen people—continually changing
reproduced many times: “Please Hurry. Thank You.”
“Monsieur André WS.”
He need only button his jacket and it won’t show any more.
all the streets in the neighborhood look alike
He paints carefully
precise, long deliberated reason
it still shows seven-thirty
[the] features have lost a good deal of their actuality
Wallas does not even know what the dead man looks like.
short, sickly looking man there, wearing a long greenish coat and a dirty hat
time… jewelry store window
“Monday, October twenty-sixth, at eight minutes after nine”
exaggeratedly detailed notations
“distorted the truth”
“A replica, a copy, a simple reproduction of an event whose original and whose key are elsewhere.”
around five in the evening
four-thirty… railway station
The deductions that can be made from such evidence furnish little opportunity for certainty.
Wallas reaches the garden gate. ¶It is seven o’clock.
The big house is silent.
the only pair to be found in the clinic was a pair of medical glasses, one of whose lenses is very dark and the other much lighter
Dupont sees only his own face in the mirror
it shows seven thirty-five. Then he remembers that it had stopped at seven-thirty. He raises it to his ear and hears the faint ticking.
eight-thirty… murder of the millionaire exporter
It was also the only proof of the exact time of his arrival in the city.
“If you can’t tell the difference between yesterday and today there’s no use talking.”