New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on Alain Robbe-Grillet, the writer and filmmaker, at NYU’s 174th Commencement Exercises in Washington Square Park. Some 19,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Letters degree, honoris causa, on Alain Robbe-Grillet:
“Alain Robbe-Grillet-trailblazer of the avante-garde, you have been at the forefront of French writers of the past fifty years and the leading figure in the movement known as Nouveau Roman. Prolific writer of novels, short stories, and books of criticism, you have been hailed as the most important French novelist since Sartre and Camus. Equally at home in other media, you have written and directed nearly a dozen films, including your most celebrated, the renowned classic: Last Year in Marienbad. Your theories of perceiving reality were described by fellow writer John Updike as the most ambitious aesthetic program since Surrealism. On the threshold of your 80th birthday, you returned with astonishing vigor to the novel, giving us Repetition-not only your most humorous book but also one yielding great intellectual pleasure. For nearly a quarter century, you were visiting professor of French at NYU, bringing great distinction to our Department of French, even as you have long been a strong, faithful, and active supporter of our programs in France. You were awarded the Medal of Honor of our Center for French Civilization and Culture, and you are one of the 40 “immortals” of French Letters of the Académie Française, the most distinguished and exclusive intellectual institution in France.
“Alain Robbe-Grillet-preeminent novelist and filmmaker-you are one of the world’s most influential and highly revered thinkers and writers. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.”