Then they change the subject. Now both of them have finished the book they have been reading for some time; their remarks can therefore refer to the book as a whole: that is, both to the outcome and to the earlier episodes (subjects of past conversations) to which this outcome gives a new significance, or to which is add a complementary meaning.
They have never made the slightest judgment as to the novel's value, speaking instead of the scenes, events, and characters as if they were real: a place they might remember (located in Africa, moreover), people they might have known, or adventures someone might have told them. Their discussions have never touched on the verisimilitude, the coherence, or the quality of the narrative. On the other hand, they frequently blame the heroes for certain acts or characteristics, as they would in the case of mutual friends.
They also sometimes deplore the coincidences of the plot, saying that "things don't happen that way," and then they construct a different probable outcome starting from a new supposition, "if it weren't for that." Other possibilities are offered, during the course of the book, which lead to different endings. The variations are extremely numerous; the variations of these, still more so. They seem to enjoy multiplying these choices, exchanging smiles, carried away by their enthusiasm, probably a little intoxicated by this proliferation...
"But that's it, he was just unlucky enough to have come home earlier that day, and no one could have guessed he would."
Thus Franck sweeps away in a single gesture all the suppositions they had just constructed together. It's no use making up contrary possibilities, since things are the way they are: reality stays the same.From Alain Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy, a short passage musing on life, art, and how one is not so different from the other, experientially.
The critical tack A... (as she is called) and Franck take towards the novel in question is thoroughly discouraged in criticism, which seeks to unpack what is really in a film, not what we want to be there. Yet...in a sense, it feels as though Robbe-Grillet finds something kind of beautiful in this more pedestrian approach. A... and Franck might not get to the heart of the novel, but in the journey, might find out something about themselves. Not a particularly noble gesture, but potentially more personally valuable.