Regardless of whether his own novels will stand up as important instances of "a new departure," Alain Robbe-Grillet thoroughly understood what it would take for the novel to survive as a credible art form:
There is no question. . .of establishing a theory, a pre-existing mold into which to pour the books of the future. Each novelist, each novel must invent its own form. No recipe can replace this continual reflection. The book makes its own rules for itself, and for itself alone. Indeed the movement of its style must often lead to jeopardize them, breaking them, even exploding them. Far from respecting certain immutable forms, each new book tends to constitute the laws of its functioning at the same time that it produces their destruction. Once the work is completed, the writer's critical reflection will serve him further to gain a perspective in regard to it, immediately nourishing new explorations, a new departure. ("The Use of Theory," in For a New Novel, trans. Richard Howard)
So much for the notion that "The ultimate test of any writer may be taking on the most traditional of genres. . .and pouring new wine into old skins." This may be the "test" for a certain kind of commercially-minded writer, the "professional author," but as Robbe-Grillet explains, the writer who truly takes his/her form seriously is willing not only to reject the "old skins" but also to discard the "new wine" once it has been made. Continuing to use the same "recipe" only shuts down the process of "continual reflection" on the possibilities of fiction needed to keep it vital. What has already been done--by the writer, by previous writers--however much it might continue to please readers, for the writer serves ultimately as the motivation for "new explorations," without which the novel will devolve into mere product and survive only as an historical curiosity. "The writer must proudly consent to bear his own date," writes Robbe-Grillet elsewhere in this essay, "knowing that there are no masterpieces in eternity, but only works in history, and that they survive only to the degree that they have left the past behind them and heralded the future."