I owe a debt of gratitude to several people and institutions for help in the writing of this study. The D.Phil. thesis on which it is based was supervised by Ann Jefferson ( New College, Oxford), for whose encouragement and critical interest I am very grateful. Nathalie Sarraute was kind enough to accord me interviews on two occasions. Jean-Yves Tadié ( University of Paris IV) also provided guidance in the early stages, especially regarding my work on irony. Celia Britton and Rhiannon Goldthorpe made valuable comments on the original thesis, while Ronald Truman and the reader of the Oxford Monographs Committee gave time and energy to overseeing revisions. Malcolm Bowie generously read part of the manuscript. The editorial team at Oxford University Press handled the publication process with care and efficiency. In addition, I have received constant support and advice over the years from Barbara Wright of Trinity College Dublin, as well as from other former teachers at Trinity, most notably Eda Sagarra.
I am extremely grateful to the Pirie-Reid Fund ( Oxford) which awarded me a three-year postgraduate research scholarship, and to Trinity College Dublin for previously awarding me a Hutchinson Stewart Literary Scholarship. In addition, a bursary from the Oxford-Paris Exchange Programme facilitated research in Paris, as, more recently, did a travel subsidy from Exeter University French Department.
Many thanks to Serge Cohen for kindly granting me permission to reproduce the photograph of Nathalie Sarraute on the cover of this book, and also to Gallimard for permission to reprint passages from Sarraute's works.
Friends and colleagues from Oxford, Paris, Exeter, Dublin, and elsewhere have consistently given help, encouragement, advice, and light relief. Special thanks are due to the following who read parts of the manuscript, tracked down references, photocopied inaccessible articles, or otherwise provided invaluable practical help: Keith Cameron, Stephen Colvin, Emma Kell, Kathleen Micham, Anne Mullen, Maria Sherwood-Smith, Douglas Smith, Sheila Watts, Andrea Williams.