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Reviews The Remembrance of Things Past ANTHONY R. PUGH Jean-Jacques Nattiez. Proust as Musician, trans Derrick Puffett Cambridge University Press. 122. us $29.95 This excellent monograph was first published in 1984. It has been translated, it appears, as a gratuitous act oflove by a grateful reader, and Cambridge has made a much better job of the material presentation than did Christian Bourgeois. The translation reads beautifully, and Jean-Jacques Nattiez has taken the opportunity to update his argument in certain respects, notably byusing evidence supplied by the new Pleiade edition. Nattiez knows full well that the subject of Proustand music has been discussed before, and he gives a generous and judicious survey of his predecessors' contributions in his opening pages in order to justify one more study. His approach is novel and convincing, and the argument is presented with exemplary clarity and skill. Briefly, he examines the pĀ·assages on Vinteuil's Sonata and Vinteuil's Septet, and reveals the meticulous patterningwith which Proust moves not only from Swann's failure to heed the initiation music offers to the narrator's profound understanding of it, but also through different phases experienced by the two listeners, phases echoed in part by other listeners present at the performances described (chapter 3). One of the patterns Nattiez reveals takes us back from Debussy through Wagner to late Beethoven. His eye for the subtlest detail is matched by his level-headed sense of proportion (excellent comments on the choice ofa strangely scored Septet), enabling him to bring out latent meanings which now seem obvious, but which had certainly escaped me before I read him. He establishes firmly the primacy of music over painting in Proust's hierarchy. Finally (chapter 4) Nattiez links up with Anne Henry's important study of Proust and Schopenhauer (1981), showing how Schopenhauer's theories are the ones Proust transposes so brilliantly into terms of a fictional quest. As the discussion involves the very meaning of literature and music, it should interest readers other than Proust specialists. Nattiez's study if not only a close reading of Proust's inexhaustible text (and it must be stressed that one cannot close a book like this without marvellinganew at the astonishing imaginative coherence of Proust's novel, from which one can UNJ:Vl!RSlTY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLUME 60, NUMBER 2, WINTER 1990 /1 320 JOHN C. CAIRNS tease out so many consistent and suggestive patterns); it also touches on genetic questions. There are passages in the Conclusion which betray a momentary insecurity, as if the author is on the defensive for having married two disciplines that have conflicted in the past, but I for one find this reconciliation of different perspectives necessary and desirable. Nattiez never reduces the text to the elements that went into its creation, but he does show very cleverly how a long meditation on Wagner contributed to the stages Proust delineates in the novel (chapter2). His discussion of the latent meaning of the sailor's song from Tristan, and the Good Friday music from Parsifal (ideas suggested by an ill-informed article, it seems), are most fascinating. Particularly significant here is the argument that the 're~elation' originally came through Parsifal, but that this was transformed into Vinteuil's Septet because Proust logically had to attribute redemptive power to an invented ratherthan a real work. For this he draws on the material of Cahier58, published in 1982 by Henri Bonnet, and dated 1910- 11. This precedes 'Un amour de Swann,' says Nattiez, and therefore the pages on the Vinteuil Sonata were always a quasi-preparation for the revelation through music experienced later in La Prisonniere, even if there was no Septet at that time. Unfortunately there is a counter-argument to be put here, for ifthe final revelation is indeed sketched out in 1910-11, recent research has made it clear that the first sketch of 'Un amour de Swann' goes back to twelve months before that. So the whole question of'preparations' (Nattiez uses the word more than once) needs to be examined rather more carefully. However, this reservation, and one or two minor errors of dating, such as the alleged abandoning of Sainte...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 319-320
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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