Reading in Proust's A la recherche: 'le di'Alire de la lecture'

Reading in Proust's A la recherche: 'le di'Alire de la lecture'

by Adam Watt
     
 

Through close textual analysis of the scenes of reading in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, Adam Watt offers an invigorating new study of the novel and previously unacknowledged paths through it. After considering key childhood 'Primal Scenes' which mark the act of reading as revelatory and potentially traumatic, the book then identifies and examines the

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Overview

Through close textual analysis of the scenes of reading in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu, Adam Watt offers an invigorating new study of the novel and previously unacknowledged paths through it. After considering key childhood 'Primal Scenes' which mark the act of reading as revelatory and potentially traumatic, the book then identifies and examines the interwoven strands of the novel's narrative of reading: showing that scenes where the narrator reads and where others provide 'lessons in reading' are intricately connected within the narrator's ever unfolding considerations of intelligence, sense experience, knowledge, and desire. These acts of reading, often bewildering the narrator with their mix of illuminations, wrong turns and over-determinations, lead us to interrogate our own understanding of the act we accomplish as we read A la recherche. This book emphasizes the complexities and contradictions with which reading (always inescapably an engagement of both mind and body) is driven, and which connect it repeatedly to the experience of involuntary memory. Reading is shown to be frequently fraught with heady instability-'délire'-of a highly revealing sort, from which narrator and readers alike have much to learn. The book's final chapter shows how the narrator's critical energies, turned contemplatively inwards in the Guermantes' library, are subsequently turned outwards for a final interpretive effort-the reading of his now aged acquaintances at the 'Bal de têtes'-in a shift that provides the narrator not only the confidence to begin his work of art, but also the humility to face, undeterred, the approach of death.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Repeatedly in Reading in Prousts A la recherche one encounters readings that emphasize the visual and sonorous characteristics of Proust's prose. These close readings, beyond their exceptional acuity, have the merit of breaking new ground in Proust criticism and illuminating a poetic prose that assimilates the qualities and function of verse." —Matthieu Vernet , "Lire nuit gravement à la santé", Acta Fabula, Dossier critique : "Acta par Fabula"

"Ambitious and well-informed study." - Nathalie Aubert, Journal of Romance Studies

"Watt provides exquisite glimpses of textual activity itself: a savouring of the acoustic patterns, of the subtexts, which operate as sensory accompaniments to, and sometimes contradictions of, the principal thrust of [Proust's] argument." —Clive Scott, Journal of European Studies

"A nuanced and wholly convincing study...This lucid, elegantly written book is an important contribution to Proust studies. A considered, keen meditation on the complexities of the act of reading written texts, it is in itself a pleasure to peruse." —French Studies

"There is so much to praise in Adam Watt's Reading in Proust's A la recherche that one doesn't quite know where to begin...In just under 200 pages, Adam Watt has definitely accomplished the remarkable critical tour de force of integrating into one decisive study the daunting pile of Proust criticism written so far and inviting the reader (always gracefully referred to as female!) to again return to the experience of reading Proust as it should be read—with sense and sensibility, a sense of taste and the promise of poetic ecstasy." —OScholars.com

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199566174
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
08/17/2009
Series:
Oxford Modern Languages and Literature Monographs Series
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

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