THESE days, the name Robbe-Grillet doesn't ring many bells. A new chateau perhaps, whose grand cru goes well with meat? A deputy minister in Sarkozy's government? An up-and-coming couturier?
How times have changed. Starting in the 1950s, the novelist, filmmaker and literary theorist Alain Robbe-Grillet, who died last week at 85, had a profound impact on international taste. An originator of the Nouveau Roman, or New Novel, and the screenwriter for Alain Resnais's 1961 cult film "Last Year at Marienbad," Mr. Robbe-Grillet was the very model of a postwar avant-gardist. His attempts to wrest fiction free from 19th-century constraints like plot and character, and to wrest objects free from imposed meaning, were never entirely popular with readers but had a decisive influence on critical theory and on the art of the novel, as well as on film, art and even psychology.