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The Proustian Quest

William Carter, Jeffrey Lange

Publication Year: 1992

"An ambitious study, the fruit of sustained work over many years. Professor Carter's book deploys a stunning knowledge of Proust and places Carter among the first line of Proust scholars in the country."
—Roger Shattuck,Boston University

The Proustian Quest is the first full-length study that explores the influence of social change on Proust's vision. In Remembrance of Things Past, Proust describes how the machines of transportation and communication transformed fashion, social mores, time-space perception, and the understanding of the laws of nature. Concentrating on the motif of speed, Carter establishes the centrality of the modern world to the novel's main themes and produces a far- reaching synthesis that demonstrates the work's profound structural unity.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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p. xi-xi

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p. xiii-xiii

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham for supporting this project through a sabbatical leave and a Graduate School Research Grant which . . .

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CHAPTER 1 The Age of Speed

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pp. 1-22

Marcel Proust lived from 1871 until 1922, an epoch that he himself characterized as the age of locomotion and speed because of the conquest of land and air.1 The end of the . . .

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CHAPTER 2 Women as Landscapes

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pp. 23-37

All the women desired by Proust's narrator have two elements in common: their fugacity and their identification with a precise geographic location. And all of them are seen for the first time . . .

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CHAPTER 3 Girls in Motion

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pp. 39-61

Proust was as fascinated by the influence of speed on the way we perceive figures in motion as was the photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986). Both moved easily among the . . .

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CHAPTER 4 Speed and Desire

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pp. 63-91

The association of agitation and motion with unrequited desire appears often in literature. Wallace Fowlie points out that such motifs occur in Dante: "in the second circle . . .

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CHAPTER 5 The Prison

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pp. 93-131

While Proust's novel continues Balzac's depiction of the human comedy, la Recherche is also a divine comedy, the spiritual autobiography of a soul. It is the story of paradise lost and regained: a . . .

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CHAPTER 6 Death of an Aviator

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pp. 133-185

A s Proust elaborated his novel, the aviator emerged as one of the dominant symbols of the creative person. When Alfred Agostinelli reappeared in Proust's life in late 1912 or early 1913 and was hired . . .

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CHAPTER 7 The Artist and the Aviator

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pp. 187-205

The image of the artist as aviator occurs in the earliest passages of la Recherche, where Proust first defines artistic genius. In an astonishing metaphor, he depicts Bergotte, the successful writer of . . .

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CHAPTER 8 The Cosmos Builder

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pp. 207-239

T h e day of revelations begins when the Narrator, on his way to a reception at the Guermantes's town house, enters the courtyard and literally stumbles upon the key to his quest in the form of an . . .


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pp. 241-296


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pp. 297-208

About the Author

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p. 309-309

E-ISBN-13: 9780814790120
E-ISBN-10: 0814790127
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814714706
Print-ISBN-10: 0814714706

Page Count: 309
Publication Year: 1992

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Proust, Marcel, 1871-1922. A la recherche du temps perdu.
  • Social change in literature.
  • Speed in literature.
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