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Proust's Binoculars

Proust's Binoculars: A Study of Memory, Time and Recognition in A la Recherche du Temps Perdu

Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Proust's Binoculars
    Book Description:

    In this compact volume readers just beginning Proust's master work and those who are already enriched by it will become aware of a significance not unkown but only forgotten"--the basic structure of Proust's enormous novel. The overall meaning of Proust's book lies in his three ways of looking at the world--cinematographic, montage, and stereoscopic--and their varying effects on the emotions and the intellect.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5691-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. I Proust’s optical figures
    (pp. 3-20)

    Out of the vastness of his literary wisdom and the extensiveness of his literary work, Proust himself made most of the relevant comments on his own writings. Like the Bible,A la recherche du temps perduembodies its own sources, myths, and criticism, It comes to stand for a state of civilization. Yet Proust’s excavation of his particular world through the artistic process became so rich in detail that we often fail to discern what he was digging for and what he found. Thus one understands why the “meaning” of Proust, the nature of his esthetic approach to life, has...

  4. II Single and multiple images; misapprehension and recognition
    (pp. 21-39)

    In the lengthy passage quoted earlier, the device that repeatedly underscores the optical aspect of the several mental distortions is the simple word, “image.” It is too often overlooked that in Proust the basic unit of subjective life, despite its perpetual flow, is something fixed and describable even if distorted: the image. Like Locke and Condillac (and later Sartre), Proust saw our image-making faculty as a means both for grasping the world and for detaching ourselves from it, the essentially double process of consciousness. Inevitably “image” spawns a large family of photographic terms:photographie, épreuve(proof),cliché(negative),instantané(still...

  5. III Stereo-optics of time: simultaneous images
    (pp. 40-83)

    In considering how Marcel finally discovered order in the succession of contradictoryinstantanéslife offers us, I have overrun myself and gone right through to the conclusion of the novel. These distinctions between involuntary memory and conscious recognition appear to me absolutely basic to a proper understanding of the action of the novel as well as of its structure and its esthetic. But I have rushed right by one of the central questions: Why do these two related classes of experience bring with them a particular sense of reward—a sensuouspleasure,or an esthetic sense of beauty and reality...

  6. IV Proust’s comic bent; the role of “law” and intelligence
    (pp. 84-121)

    Proust’s sensitivity to time and tense must not draw our attention permanently away from other aspects of his work that give it body and variety. Particularly I want to insist on how fully he assimilated into his universe of vision two perspectives often treated as merely decorative or even out of place. The first is Proust’s sense of the comic. His masterful handling of realistic detail gives us an insight into every social level, be it Francoise’scuirsor the Guermantes’ so-called wit. The slow motion scene of Marcel “kissing” Albertine (II 363-67/1 977-81) is as right and as ridiculous...

  7. V Proust’s style; central metaphor of the deux côtés
    (pp. 122-139)

    The ambitiousness of Proust’s undertaking, from its sheer length to its metaphysical aspirations, makes enormous demands on his literary style. It has survived countless attacks to become one of the best known, and least imitated, of all prose styles. As his novel tenaciously aims at assimilating the whole meaning of life, so each sentence strives to digest its whole subject, and a kind of elephantiasis sets in. But this retentive, monumental aspect of Proust’s writing does not prevent it from being astonishingly flexible. With these apparently unwieldy sentences, he can, for example, braid together the multiple strands forming a social...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 140-153)
    R. S.