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Vaguely European

The continental European novel is in poor health. Nobel prize winner José Saramago is one of the few who can still make it fly

By John Banville   February 2001

When I was a lad and had not yet learned to beware the faux amis lying in wait for me in the playground of the French language, I imagined that the term la nouvelle vague meant not “the new wave” but something like “the new vagueness.” La nouvelle vague was the term used for the new young cin?tes, Truffaut, Resnais, Godard, and the rest, but in my mind, presumably because of the faux-homophony between nouvelle and novel, it came to apply also to practitioners of the nouveau roman such as Alain Robbe-Grillet, Philippe Sollers, and Nathalie Sarraute, those bright but distant…

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