CHAPTER II: A la Recherche as the history of a vocation
CHAPTER II A la Recherche as the history of a vocation A la Recherche has to be considered as what the Germans call a “Bildungsro- man”. Proust himself calls his work the history of a “vocation”: “And I under- stood that all these materials for a work of literature were simply my past life. And thus my whole life up to the present day might (and yet might not) have been summed up under the title: A Vocation.” a 1 The book is the story of a learning process.2 In the novel, the main character, the narrator, receives “les- sons” from various people – above all from artists – and from life itself. These open his eyes to the beauty of life, and ultimately to a realisation of the essential nature of art as “illumination”, as a means to realise life.3 His path is, however, not without its dangers and distractions. One of the greatest dangers is aestheticism. Proust combats its spirit by per- sonifying it in Swann and Charlus. Other dangers are this worldly life, love, and even friendship. But every experience is also a learning experience. “When I considered my past life, I understood also that its slightest episodes had contrib- uted towards giving me the lesson in idealism from which I was going to profit today.” b 4 For a long time he is unsure. He keeps putting off starting to write, from weakness of will. He envies the energy of the maid Françoise as she prepares a...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.