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Judaism in Marcel Proust

Anti-Semitism, Philo-Semitism, and Judaic Perspectives in Art

Series:

Bette H. Lustig

Through detailed in-depth exegeses of Proust’s literary texts (A la Recherche du temps perdu, Jean Santeuil, and Contre Sainte-Beuve), Judaism in Marcel Proust: Anti-Semitism, Philo-Semitism, and Judaic Perspectives in Art explains anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism as present in actual French literary texts. Unlike other studies about Proust and Judaism, the narrative in this book is in English; the focus is on the actual French texts, not on Proust’s biography. Primary Judaic sources such as the Hebrew Bible, the Babylonian Talmud, Moses Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, and Rashi’s commentaries illuminate Proust’s texts and skillfully demonstrate their anti-Semitic and philo-Semitic subtexts.
The principal Proustian themes that are examined in depth include, first of all, the anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism of the characters as informed by Jean-Paul Sartre’s Réflexions sur la queston juive; second, Christian interpretations of Judaic biblical references and their anti-Semitic connotations as well as the philo-Semitic references to the Hebrew Bible and to Judaic culture and ritual contained in the Proust texts; third, the importance of references to art in Proust’s texts and their Judaic significance.
Written in a lively, clear, and accessible style, Judaism in Marcel Proust engages the reader, both Proustophile and Proust scholar alike. It would be an excellent choice for the reading list of courses on Proust as well as for French history and social psychology courses on anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism relating to the Dreyfus case and the Belle Epoque.

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Notes 149

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Notes Chapter 1 1. Unless otherwise indictated, all use of italics in this and subsequent texts is mine and is intended to emphasize specific points in the texts. (p. 6) 2. The word “pre-logical” is a Sartrian term meaning those who are at an infantile level of thinking capacity, generally signifying the level of mental immaturity of anti-Semites (cf. “Nous avons créé cette espèce d’hommes [les Juifs] qui n’a de sens que comme produit artificiel d’une société capitaliste (ou féodale), qui n’a pour raison d’être que de servir de bouc émissaire à une collectivité encore prélo- gique.) (my italics) (RQJ p. 165). (p. 13) 3. The term “nissim” means “miracles” in Hebrew. (p. 24) 4. Other critics have also treated the subject of truth in Proust, notably, Julia Kris- teva, “Proust: Questions d’identité”, p.15; Thanh-VânTon-That, “De la “chose vue” à la fiction romanesque: métamorphoses et démystification de l’affaire Dreyfus dans Jean Santeuil’, p.153; Lynn Wilkinson, “The Art of Distinction: Proust and the Dreyfus Affair”, p. 983. (p. 25) 5. The name, Aboukir, traces its origin to a triumphant naval victory for Napoleon in the Battle of Aboukir in Egypt from which, at the end of the nineteenth centu- ry, many Jews emigrated to France. (p. 33) 6. The moser, a Jew who informs against other Jews, is traditionally ostracized and mourned as a rejected member of his family and of the community. The prohibi- tion of one Jew informing on another to the civil...

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