Abstract

The essay examines Proust’s involvement in the “Lemoine Affair,” a diamond-fabrication scam that captured the French popular imagination in 1908. Lemoine’s hoax inspired Proust to undertake his own virtuosic exercise in fraud: in the year before he began drafting In Search of Lost Time, he published a series of pastiches in the newspaper— fictional accounts of the affair written in the styles of Balzac, Flaubert, Michelet, and others. These pastiches highlight Proust’s penchant for newspapers, magic tricks, and ventriloquistic play. Experiments in the phenomenology of “convulsive” and “unstable” preciosity, they reveal Proust’s fascination with the volatility of value and the peculiar status of the aesthetic object in modernity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 159-178
Launched on MUSE
2012-05-25
Open Access
No
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