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Metamorphoses of the Proustian Body

A Study of Bodily Signs in "A la recherche du temps perdu</I>


Richard Saunders

Like other hermeneutic objects in Proust's novel, the body has a rich but equivocal potential as a signifier, both inviting and resisting interpretation. Setting out from the original transparency of the maternal body in Combray, the hero's successive misreadings of bodies form an important part of his extended subjection to illusion. This enthrallment to error will not dissipate until the final revelations of Le Temps retrouvé, where, on the threshold of discovering his artistic vocation, bodies acquire a new transparency for the hero, stripped of the myth-making power that characterized their earlier status in the novel.