Readings of In Search of Lost Time have primarily focused on the function of time rather than space. But the opening section of Swann's Way, the Overture, is one of the most powerful in Proust's corpus. The narrator Marcel's relation to his domestic space is not merely a circumstance of the plot, but the condition of the plot's possibility. The interior space of Marcel's childhood at Combray creates his most formative memories. His bedroom shapes his fixation with the passage of time and anxious disorientation with his world, while the upstairs-downstairs configuration establishes the structure of obsession with his mother and the mediated desire for her, a pattern he constantly revisits in his later sexual experiences. Proust writes thousands of pages, but they are a reworking of the fundamental themes introduced in the Overture, in which Marcel's interaction with domestic space frames the major concerns of his life.


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pp. 49-64
Launched on MUSE
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