Alain Robbe-Grillet, an influential theorist as well as writer of the Nouveau Roman, published a series of essays on the nature and future of the novel which were later collected in Pour un Nouveau Roman. Rejecting many of the established features of the novel to date, Robbe-Grillet regarded many earlier novelists as old-fashioned in their focus on plot, action, narrative, ideas, and character. Instead, he put forward a theory of the novel as focused on objects: the ideal nouveau roman would be an individual version and vision of things, subordinating plot and character to the details of the world rather than enlisting the world in their service.
Despite the assertions of nouveauté, this vision of the novel can be construed as developing from earlier writers' suggestions and practice. Joris-Karl Huysmans, ninety years before, had suggested how the novel might be depersonalised; more recently, Franz Kafka had shown that conventional methods of depicting character were not essential; James Joyce had done the same for plot; and absurdist writers had engaged with some of the themes which preoccupied writers of the nouveau roman.