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Proust and Emotion

Proust and Emotion: The Importance of Affect in "A la recherche du temps perdu"

  • Book Info
    Proust and Emotion
    Book Description:

    InProust and Emotion, Inge Crosman Wimmers proposes a new approach toA la recherche du temps perduthat centres on the role of affect. Through close reading of the hero-narrator's personal history, the author shows how emotional paradigms (especially separation anxiety), involuntary memory, and other compelling impressions give focus and structure to Proust's novel. Drawing on reader-oriented and emotion theories, she shows how affect commands the attention of the 'motivated reader' and is crucial to the process of self-understanding for both the narrator and the reader.

    This is the first extensive study in English to take fully into consideration the drafts (esquisses) published in the new Pléiade edition of the novel, the Mauriac edition ofAlbertine disparue, and material from the unpublished Proust manuscripts - all of which shed further light on the importance of affect inA la recherche.Proust and Emotionwill appeal to readers interested in an approach to Proust that combines insights from philosophy, psychology, and literary aesthetics and in a poetics of reading that pays particular attention to emotion.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7886-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: The Motivated Reader
    (pp. 3-18)

    There is more than one way of readingA la recherche du temps perdu, as is evident from the many approaches to this novel. As we take stock, at the beginning of a new millennium, it is quite apparent that Proust has been acknowledged as both a canonical and a subversive writer and that he has survived all critical approaches. Some of the most renowned critics have paid hommage to Proust. Spitzer, for instance, initiated readers into important features of Proustian style and Genette opened the door to an in-depth study of the novelʹs narrative discourse. Ricoeur, in turn, taking...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Narrating Presence
    (pp. 19-31)

    As the reader sets out on the long journey throughA la rechercheʹs more than three thousand pages, it is evident from the start that the narrator of this first-person novel does considerably more than talk about his own past. It is best, I will argue, to think of his past self as the ʹheroʹ and to distinguish it from the narrating presence, which is prone to view this former self at times critically, at times sympathetically: alternating perspectives that influence the readerʹs view and disposition. Yet, there are passages where a distinction cannot be made between hero and narrator;...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Separation Anxiety: The drame du coucher
    (pp. 32-49)

    When the narrator begins to focus exclusively on one of the rooms that had come back to mind during the period of irregular sleep, the actual story of his childhood begins. It is his room in Combray, first briefly alluded to in the novelʹs overture as part of the nocturnal musings evoking familiar places inhabited in the past, to which he now returns. This access to the past, it is important to remember, is rooted in the bodyʹs, not the mindʹs memory, a fact the narrator himself emphasizes in the initial reference to Combray:

    Mon côté ankylosé, cherchant à deviner...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Separation Anxiety: An Emotional Paradigm
    (pp. 50-63)

    The recurrence of the same kind of anguish described in subsequent experiences of separation anxiety points to an emotional paradigm of which the young hero becomes aware only gradually. The narrator does not reveal this future insight to the reader until the hero himself has gone through the process of recognition. One realizes, especially in a rereading ofA la recherche, that separation anxiety plays a central role in the novel, that, like experiences of involuntary memory, it is an essential part of the entiremise en intrigue. The boyʹs anguish in ʹCombrayʹ prepares us not only for Swarmʹs suffering...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Separation Anxiety in Love Relationships
    (pp. 64-83)

    There is no escaping from the acute pain of separation anxiety. It will leave its mark on all future relationships. The hero will experience his most intense pain yet once he has fallen in love with Albertine. First seen from a distance as one of the most enigmatic and enticing of a group of young girls encountered on the beach, he associates her with the beauty of this outdoor setting: a young woman in bloom against the backdrop of the sea.¹ When later he sees her occasionally in Paris, he soon finds her to be unpredictable and unreliable. We are...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Narrative Identity
    (pp. 84-98)

    The heroʹs central discovery, inAlbertine disparue, is nothing less than insight into the very core of his being. The loss of Albertine is the price he had to pay for such self-knowledge. It is this important discovery that the short version of the text, based on the Mauriac typescript, sets in relief, Proust having eliminated all that is extraneous. These revisions are by far the most significant and extensive in the genesis of the novel, considerably altering the shape and impact of the narrative. By foregrounding the intensity of emotions and the insight to which they lead, Proust gave...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Emblematic Narration
    (pp. 99-110)

    There is an important shift in mood and perspective in the second chapter ofAlbertine disparue, the Venice section.¹ After giving all his attention to his relationship with Albertine in the first part – searching for her, mourning her, then going through the stages of forgetting – the narrator begins the next chapter by focusing on an experience of affective memory through which the hero is reminded of the sunny Sunday mornings of Combray. This fortuitous event puts him in touch with a happy childhood memory, making him aware of a permanent aspect of his sensibility.² The opening paragraph of...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN From Impression to Expression
    (pp. 111-141)

    As we accompany the hero-narrator on the long journey that takes us from ʹCombrayʹ toLe Temps retrouvé, we witness more than once important moments of discovery. Yet it is not until we are halfway through the last volume that the narrator lets us in on the secret of how he finally discovered his vocation. It happens at the most unlikely moment, on the occasion of his last social gathering, the Matinée Guermantes. He suddenly and unexpectedly is subject to several experiences of involuntary memory, first in the courtyard, then in the library where he has to wait before being...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Reading Emotions
    (pp. 142-171)

    Reading occupies a central place in the narratorʹs tale and is among the experiences whose impressions make a lasting imprint. The importance he attaches to reading is evident from the sustained focus on it and the detailed, at times even passionate, treatment it is given right from the start, beginning with ʹCombray.ʹ The many variations on the theme, throughoutA la recherche, reveal it as one of the novelʹs recurring leitmotifs. At the end of the long journey assessing a lifetime, it is, as we have seen, a book read long ago,François le Champi, that brings back a central...

  13. Conclusion: Reading Proust in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 172-184)

    There are yet new and unexplored territories to be charted as we read and reread Proustʹs rich and multifarious novel. It is a generous and open work without restricting boundaries, one that invites interdisciplinary voyages and a fresh look at the novel as genre.¹ It will, no doubt, give rise to ground-breaking new editions in step with the technological advances of our age. One wonders what future electronic editions ofA la recherchewill be like. I imagine a reader able to call up all the cross-references, variants, and sketches related to a certain theme or character. More mind-boggling yet...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 185-260)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 261-268)
  16. Index
    (pp. 269-278)