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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 4 The Making of an Artist 87


Chapter 4 The Making of an Artist Romanticism and the Origins of the Artwork Romanticism as a movement in art gave way to Realism by the middle years of the nineteenth century. But romanticism as a sum of values crediting the individual—the artist above all—with a potential for heightened levels of expe- riencing and expression continued to inflect discussions of art throughout the nineteenth century. It continues to do so today though now the discussion is marked by the reaction provoked by the special-case terms Romanticism made use of in championing art and the artist. Jean-Marie Schaeffer’s Art of the Modern Age characterizes this reaction. Schaeffer argues that a willingness to attribute a role in art-making to a charge, borne in the self of the artist, which sets the artist and her or his art apart from everyone and everything else is detrimen- tal to contemporary thought about art. According to Schaffer, it undermines a clear-sighted understanding of art’s function in the post-modern world. Art is a multipartite project. To understand it, it his helpful to differentiate its parts and single out those pertinent to one’s particular interest. Three of these elements or parts touched on in the opening sentences of this chapter are: 1. art-making; 2. thought on art, and 3. art’s function in the post-modern world. Art-making can be divided into a) the source of art in the artist and b) its expression, the latter leading to issues of practice. It is with the origin of...

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