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Proust’s «In Search of Lost Time»: The History of a Vocation

Meindert Evers

Marcel Proust (1871-1922) grew up in the fin de siècle, a period associated with melancholy and decadence. He knew the temptations of decadence, but freed himself by developing a new conception of art: Perspectivism becomes the aesthetic and philosophical principle of In Search of Lost Time. The novel traces out the path to becoming an artist. It is the history of a «vocation». The main figure is initiated into the hidden beauty of the universe by various artists and by «signs» from his own life, like involuntary memory. A variety of dangers however, lie along the path of the artist. Besides aestheticism, there is the siren call of worldly life which has to be resisted. In the end, art triumphs. For Proust art is not a refuge from life, but the only way to do justice to the modern world. The fascinating and equally disturbing consequence of Proust’s radical conception of art is the complete absence of cultural criticism. An advertisement for soap may contain as much poetry as the Pensées of Pascal.

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: the Eiffel tower 1889 (Library of Congress) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Evers, Meindert. Proust’s In search of lost time : the history of a vocation / Meindert Evers. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-3-631-62931-4 1. Proust, Marcel, 1871-1922. A la recherche du temps perdu. I. Title. PQ2631.R63Z584 2013 843’.912--dc23 2013004836 ISBN 978-3-631-62931-4 © Peter Lang GmbH Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften Frankfurt am Main 2013 All rights reserved. Peter Lang Edition is an Imprint of Peter Lang GmbH All parts of this publication are protected by copyright. Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution. This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems. www.peterlang.de

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