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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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Notes 189


Notes Preface 1. T. J. Clark, Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from the History of Modernism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999) pp. 8, 15. Epigraph 1. “By what miracle does man agree to do what he must do on earth, he who is doomed to die?” The Memoirs of Chateaubriand. Selected, translated and with an introduction by Robert Baldich. (New York; Alfred A. Knopf, 1961) pg. 205. Introduction 1. “La vie de Proust est marquée par un moment décisif où lui vient l’inspiration d’où sortira sa grande œuvre.” Philip Kolb, Le Carnet de 1908 (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1976), p. 7. 2. The other volumes in the novel are: A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleur (1919); it won the Prix Goncourt in 1919; Le Côté de Guermantes (1920 part I; 1921, part II); Sodome et Gomorrhe (1921) Le Prisonnière (1923); Albertine disparue (1925); Le Temps retrouvé (1927). Marcel Proust died on November 18, 1922, before the whole of his novel had been published. 3. G (JF), pp. 360-61; SLT (II), pp. 25-27. 4. G (JF), pp. 657-58; SLT (II), pp. 569-569. 5. G (LP), pp. 1790-1803; SLT (V), pp. 331-353. 6. This quality of individual experiencing is reflected in the language Proust uses to describe these artists’ work. In each case he references some level of corporeal (in the case of the actress, Berma) and spiritual synthesis that is inimitable to them. Berma’s Phaedra: “ou comme si Phèdre elle-même avait dit en ce...

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