The Target: Alain Robbe-Grillet and Jasper Johns
Translated by Ben Stoltzfus

About the Translator :
Ben Stolzfus, a graduate of Amherst and the recipient of a PhD in French from the University of Wisconsin, is a novelist, translator, literary critic, and retired professor of Comparative Literature and Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside. He has published books on Alain Robbe-Grillet, Georges ChenneviŤre, Ernest Hemingway, and Andrť Gide, and is a recognized comparatist and interarts scholar.




The Target is a two-part interarts study of Jasper Johns and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Stoltzfusís translation of Robbe-Grilletís introduction in the catalogue to Johnís 1978 Pompidou show in Paris is followed by an essay comparing the works of the American Pop artist and the French new novelist and cinematographer. Fifty-eight illustrations (eight in color) from the show accompany the translation because these art works generated Robbe-Grilletís text, also entitled ďThe Target.Ē

Stoltzfusís essay discusses Johnís art and Robbe-Grilletís metafiction in a postmodern context. Both men subvert cultural stereotypes and realism in art. Their works are self-reflexive and they call attention to themselves and to the language of art. Autopoiesis, that is, the internal recursive loops of the systemóthe artworkóis one of many features that they share. In addressing these features the essay deals with chaos theory, strange attractors, psychoanalysis, play theory, the role of the observer(s), and the social function of art. Books and articles have been published on Johns and on Robbe-Grillet, but none comparing the two. Bringing the two together, while exploring the affinities between the visual and the written, should be of great interest to every aficionado.

The conclusion of the book argues that the foregrounding of the significant, the distortion of sequential narrative, and the disruption of causality and closure affect our perception of history, the work, and our lives; that this process has profound social consequences because Johnís and Robbe-Grilletís art explores the ontology of representation, not the mirroring of reality.

An appendix to the book describes the rings of Johnís Target and their relationship to the nine objects and nine numbers that Robbe-Grillet assigns to them.

ISBN 0-8386-4084-2, $52.50




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