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Creative Development in Marcel Proust’s «A la recherche du temps perdu»


Jeffrey Johnson

This book focuses on creative development and empowerment in Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu. It demonstrates Proust’s proof of the Romantic notion that art originates in the self of the artist. Approached as a Bildungsroman, the psychological aspects of this development in Marcel, the principal character, are considered in terms of the stimulus/response mechanism in living organisms. It verifies Proust’s argument that time in the body, including all that one experiences unconsciously, is present within us whether it is accessible to memory or not.
Through involuntary memories and inspiration at the end of the novel, Marcel finds the means to write the book he has long wished to write. Inspiration provides a link between Marcel, the novel’s protagonist, and Proust, its author. This volume balances its analysis of Marcel’s creative development and empowerment through inspiration with Proust’s experiences in May 1909, when he realized that the concept of the fourth dimension would serve as the unifying thread for his novel. Modernity is viewed as a crucial influence in the transformation of society that Proust’s novel chronicles. This study posits an allegorical reading of the novel in the relationship of the birth of the modern citizen to the making of an artist in an era of doubt.


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Chapter 1 Proustian Idealism 17


Chapter 1 Proustian Idealism A Maxim of Marcel Proust Proust bases a critique of art in La Recherche on an artwork’s capacity to convey through form some part of the deeply interior truth of experience that is shap- ing or has shaped the self of the artist. Examples of this capacity were cited in the introduction. The communicative arc Proust’s critique defines recognizes the protean quality of invention that goes into the making of the artwork and the essential communication conveyed through it. In Proust’s novel art is not alone in providing a medium for imagination or fancy to play upon, through which is expressed some truth internal to the motivation that is the source of a form’s appearance. Lies do the same. A medium of communication—a language of some sort—can be consid- ered a bridge facilitating the exchange of ideas between individuals as speakers and auditors. Speaker, auditor, and language form a communicative triad. In bridge communication individuals make use of the bridge to speak and listen to one another. Communication flows in both directions. Participation is unconditional for anyone conversant in the language. Unconditional participation is not the only mode in which communicative interactions takes place however. There are forms of communication in which conditions apply and for which the bridge metaphor is not applicable. Of these specialized forms, arc communication recog- nizes the imbalance that exists for a communicative triad that is hierarchical and performative. A hierarchy is established when an individual preempts the medi-...

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