Alain Robbe-Grillet a prominent member of the nouveau roman movement declared in his collection of theories For a New Novel, that "the author must cease intervening in his works" (Morrissette 260). In order for an author to write a text with as little interference as possible one must escape the traditions and conventions of literature and learn to just let their literature exist. One of the approaches to writing a novel which allows little authorial intervention is to rework the old conventions of character. Issues surrounding character stand prominent within Robbe-Grillet's theories. Traditionally, a character must have a name, a profession, and a history that will dictate what situations he is placed in and how he reacts to them (Robbe-Grillet 27). For Robbe-Grillet, a "character must be unique and at the same time must rise to the level of a category. He must have enough individuality to remain irreplaceable, and enough generality to become universal" (Robbe-Grillet 28). One of the main issues standing in the way of that individual generality is the labeling of a character with a name or pronoun.
Questions of which type of narration can be used to best express the "true self" of the text are not unique to Robbe-Grillet. Other authors have been struggling with what the "I" in a text means and how to explain the relationship between the textual "I" and the outside world. Through a close reading of Jorge Luis Borges' "Borges and I" and Alain Robbe-Grillet's Jealousy, I will explore the problems with pronouns and how an absence of the conventional pronouns and proper nouns can make a individual character irreplaceable in the text while at the same time leaving a space for generality.