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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 3 Identity 61


Chapter 3 Identity Identity as a Social Marker The past would be meaningless if the new and the random were all one ever encountered or if no means existed to mine what the past holds, which amounts to the same thing. But this is not the case. The molecular structure of the uni- verse; matter’s propensity for pattern replication; the presence of thresholds in response to stimulation; the ease with which habits form and guide behavior; and referable memory all signify the importance of the past to the present in the economy of natural systems. In chapter 2 we set out to demonstrate the validity of the argument Proust presents in La Recherche concerning the origin of art in the self of the artist in order to support the judgment, advanced in the present text, that the logic internal to the novel transcends it. We proposed to do this by testing the verac- ity of the fiction Proust created in telling the story of the making of the artist. We started by testing the veracity of the phenomenon of involuntary memory in the last chapter. Based on the way stimuli are processed by living things and in the occasional occurrence of various kinds of anomalous psychic events in the flow of normal neurophysiological functioning, we accepted that Proust’s presentation of involuntary memory is valid. In addition to involuntary mem- ory, five other factors were identified for testing. These five factors contribute to the mise-en-scène in which Proust situates his...

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