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Nathalie Sarraute


Nathalie Sarraute was born Natalia Tcherniak in Ivanova, Russia, in 1900. Her father was a chemist and her mother an author. They divorced when Sarraute was two years old and both remarried. She lived with her mother and stepfather in Paris and joined her father in Russia in the summer. When she was five her mother returned to Russia while her father lived in France and Switzerland, so she spent time in the three countries. From the age of eight, she lived with her father in Paris. She studied English at the Sorbonne and, after getting her degree, went to Oxford. She returned to Paris and studied law and worked as a lawyer till 1940. She married Raymond Sarraute in 1925 and they had three daughters, including the journalist, Claude Sarraute.

In 1939, she produced her first work, Tropismes (Tropisms), a series of nineteen very short pieces (later editions would have twenty-four), with no plot or named characters and obviously related to the biological concept of tropism, namely the response of an organism to an external stimulus, such as a plant reacting to light. As her other nouveau roman colleagues would do, she was writing not about life and death and politics but merely about how humans would react to some often apparently meaningless and trivial stimulus. This view would be at the basis of her future work though, not surprisingly, it was little understood when it first appeared. As well as her novels and plays, she also produced a key critical work L’Ère du soupçon (The Age of Suspicion), which summarises some of the key features of the nouveau roman and makes for interesting reading. She continued to write in the same vein till her death in 1999, age 99.

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Nathalie Sarraute
Nathalie Sarraute (1900-)
Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Biographie de Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Biographie de Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Biographie de Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Biographie de Nathalie Sarraute (in French)
Nathalie Sarraute (her house plus brief bio – in French)
Biographie de Nathalie Sarraute (1900-1999) (in French)
Le bout de la langue – A propos de Nathalie Sarraute (in French)


1939 Tropismes (Tropisms) (sketches)
1948 Portrait d’un inconnu (Portrait of a Man Unknown) (novel)
1953 Martereau (Martereau) novel)
1956 L’Ère du soupçon (The Age of Suspicion) (essay)
1959 Le Planétarium (The Planetarium) (novel)
1963 Les Fruits d’or (The Golden Fruits) (novel)
1964 Le Silence (Silence) (drama)
1966 Le Mensonge (The Lie) (drama)
1968 Entre la vie et la mort (Between Life and Death) (novel)
1970 Isma ou Ce qui s’appelle rien (drama)
1971 Ce que je cherche à faire
1972 Vous les entendez? (Do You Hear Them?) (novel)
1975 C’est beau (theatre)
1976″Disent les imbeciles” (“Fools Say”) (novel)
1978 Elle est là
1980 L’usage de la parole (The Use of Speech) (sketches)
1982 Pour un oui pour un non (drama)
1983 Enfance (Childhood) (autobiography)
1986 Paul Valéry et l’enfant d’éléphant; Flaubert le précurseur
1989 Tu ne t’aimes pas (You Don’t Love Yourself ) (novel)
1993 Théâtre (Collected Plays of Nathalie Sarraute) (drama)
1995 Ici (Here: A Novel) (novel)
1997 Ouvrez (sketches)