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Page 152

Introduction to Proustian Passions 143

hoarding introspective first-person consciousness. A la recherche du temps
perdu responds only partially to such a description. Nostalgia and
introspection have their part to play in the Proustian psyche. But Proust
himself does so much work with these aspects of human cognitive
functioning that, unless we are very careful, even loving descriptions of his
writing can come to sound like apologies for it.

As commentators have been at pains to analyse, the Proustian
narratorial voice is itself composed of many, sometimes ambiguously
differentiated, even conflicting agencies.7 I do not intend to repeat the work
of that important analysis here. Once we have seen and understood the
elasticity and mobility built into Proust’s use of the narratorial convention, it
is enough to carry it with us as we read, and to be prepared at times to signal
instances of special relevance to points in hand about self-justificatory
activity. No work on Proust can entirely avoid the question of who is
speaking and when, but it should not be allowed to take over all forms of
argument about A la recherche.

Sartre, in 1943, offered the following analysis of what is meant by
caractŁre, and used as an exemplary literary text Proust’s A la recherche du temps
perdu. Sartre’s brief comments brilliantly summarize and orchestrate one of
the central questions that Proust experiments with in his work. I will quote
Sartre’s points in full:

le caractère n’a d’existence distincte qu’à titre d’objet de
connaissance pour autrui. La conscience ne connaît point son
caractère—à moins de se déterminer réflexivement à partir du
point de vue de l’autre—elle l’existe [sic] en pure indistinction,
non thématiquement et non thétiquement, dans l’épreuve qu’elle
fait de sa propre contingence et dans la néantisation par quoi elle
reconnaît et dépasse sa facticité. C’est pourquoi la pure
description introspective de soi ne livre aucun caractère: le héros
de Proust ‘n’a pas’ de caractère directement saisissable; il se livre
d’abord, en tant qu’il est conscient de luimême, comme un
ensemble de réactions générales et communes à tous les hommes
(‘mécanismes’ de la passion, des émotions, ordre d’apparition des
souvenirs, etc.), où chacun peut se reconnaître: c’est que ces
réactions appartiennent à la ‘nature’ générale du psychique. Si
nous arrivons (comme l’a tenté Abraham dans son livre sur
Proust) à déterminer le caractère du héros proustien (à propos
par exemple de sa faiblesse, de sa passivité, de la liaison singulière
chez lui de l’amour et de l’argent) c’est que nous interprétons les

Page 153

Ingrid Wassenaar144

données brutes: nous prenons sur elles un point de vue extérieur,
nous les comparons et nous tentons d’en dégager des relations
permanentes et objectives. Mais ceci nécessite un recul: tant que
le lecteur, suivant l’optique générale de la lecture, s’identifie au
héros de roman, le caractère de ‘Marcel’ lui échappe; mieux, il
n’existe pas à ce niveau. Il n’apparaît que si je brise la complicité
qui m’unit à l’écrivain, que si je considère le livre non plus comme
un confident, mais comme une confidence, mieux encore: comme
un document. Ce caractère n’existe donc que sur le plan du pour-
autrui et c’est la raison pour laquelle les maximes et les
descriptions des ‘moralistes’, c’est-à-dire des auteurs français qui
ont entrepris une psychologie objective et sociale, ne se
recouvrent jamais avec l’expérience vécue du sujet.8

Marcel Muller quotes this passage, but his criticism of it, that Sartre’s
comments are applicable to any first-person narrative, and therefore miss the
specificity of ‘le véritable secret du je proustien’, itself misses Sartre’s point.9
What has been so coruscatingly pinpointed is the agonizing fulcrum across
which the Proustian narrator—in all of his temporal manifestations, moods,
and agencies—and the reader of first-person confessional texts are delicately
poised and interlocked. Character appears only when complicity is broken,
when reader–narrator identificatory patterns and cycles and compulsions are
undone, when the narrator is seen no longer as everyman, but as a particular,
neurasthenic, possibly hysterical, would-be novelist. Grateful as we must be
to Muller for offering Proust criticism a multipartite taxonomy formalizing
the interconnections between, and independent statuses of, the narratorial
selves (HØros, Narrateur, Sujet IntermØdiaire, Protagoniste, Romancier, Écrivain,
Auteur, Homme, Signataire), these terms seem to deprive the first-person
narrative of its relationships to external objects and selves, whether in or
beyond the confines of the text, and it is upon these relationships and the
kinds of processes they inaugurate that my study focuses.

A retrospective first-person novel, as the narratologist Gérard Genette
so convincingly demonstrates, will both manipulate and suffer from periodic
attacks of prolepsis and paralepsis.10 Genette’s tough-minded and careful
attention to the workings of Proust’s narrative offer a sound methodological
principle informing the way in which I read, but my argument, in showing
how self-justification works and is put to work, does not attempt to construct
a new narratology of A la recherche. The main point I take from Genette’s
work is that great attention must be paid, when studying works of
confessional fiction, to what we might term a rhetoric of reliability. A

Page 303

Index294

Spinoza
Proust compared to, 34

Stambolian, George, 76
Stansell, Christine, 188
Starr, Gabrielle, 243–65, 275

on aesthetic theory, 243–65
on Proustian aesthetics, 244, 251–55,

260
Stewart, Susan, 105–19, 274

on nostalgia theories in literature,
106–11, 117–8

on Proust’s use of nostalgia in his
work, 105–6, 108, 110–19

Sussman, Henry, 83
Swann, Charles in A la recherchØ du temps

perdu, 60, 78, 89, 140, 167, 203,
205–8, 211–12

death of, 113
as dilettante, 71
features of, 32, 172
idolatry of Zipporah-Odette, 70–77,

90
jealously of, 2–7, 9–10, 172–73
marriage of, 191, 203
self-destruction of, 71

Swann, Gilberte in A la recherchØ du
temps perdu, 32, 56, 94, 190, 212,
215

and Marcel, 192, 201, 203–4, 206,
208–10, 235

sexuality of, 114, 170
Swann�s Way in A la recherchØ du temps

perdu, 21, 54, 56, 167
bed-time kiss in, 25–26, 168, 177
childhood memories in, 23, 113, 191
“Combray” in, 89, 96–97, 138–39,

166–69, 177, 181–82, 191, 201, 203
death in, 112–13
image of mother in, 25
Japanese aesthetics in, 94
jealously in, 2–7, 9–10
Mazarin in, 10
narrator in, 55, 76–77, 169
publication of, 17, 27, 78, 229

self-destruction of Swann in, 71
sexuality in, 77

“Swann in Love” in, 71, 76–77, 201,
203, 207

Swann’s relationship with Odette in, 71
Verdurins in, 30, 113
waking and sleeping in, 111–13

Swift, Jonathan
and aesthetic theory, 244, 251, 254–58
compared to Proust, 251, 254–57

Tadié, Jean-Yves
on avant-texte, 226, 228, 230

Temps retrouvØ, Le in A la recherchØ du
temps perdu, 17, 193, 197, 227–28

Monsieur de Charlus in, 59–60
death in, 31
Gilberte in, 56
inner vision in, 58
Japanese aesthetics in, 89, 94
the narrator in, 56, 58
realism in, 57

Theory of Film (Kracauer)
on Proust as a theorist of

photography, 123
Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith)

aesthetic theory in, 244
Thierry, Aungustin, 168
Timaeus (Plato), 107
Time Regained, in A la recherchØ du temps

perdu, 32
aesthetic theory in, 23
alteration between love and death in,

22
film adaptation of, 123
moment of illumination in, 180
narrator in, 128–29
technological change in, 123, 128–29
Vinteuil’s sonata in, 123

Tolstoy, Leo, 95, 228
Ton-That, Thanh-Vân

on Jean Santeuil, 223, 238
Turing, Alan, 140
Two Paths, The (Ruskin), 44

Page 304

Index 295

Ulysses (Joyce)
technological change in, 123, 131–35

Vigneron, Robert
on the conclusion of Swann�s Way,

202, 213–14
“Villebon Way and the Méséglise Way,

The,” 177
Virgil

and the Orpheus myth, 121
Vocabulaire de Proust, Le (Brunet), 159
Vuillard, Edouard, 86, 88

Walton, Kendall, 251
Wassenaar, Ingrid, 137–63, 274

on allegory in A la recherchØ du temps
perdu, 137–39

on Proust criticism, 139–49
on the history of self-justification,

149–58

on self-justification in A la recherchØ
du temps perdu, 137–49, 157–60

on Proust and self-justification,
137–49, 157–60

Weber, Eugen, 185
Wharton, Edith, 189
What is to be done? (Chernichevsky), 187
Whistler, 87, 89–91, 95, 193
Within a Budding Grove in A la recherchØ

du temps perdu
artist Elstir in, 76–78
nostalgia in, 106
Odette’s past revealed in, 76
Miss Sacripant painting in, 76–78

Women of the Left Bank (Benstock), 189
Wordsworth, William, 56

Yearning for Yesterday (Davis), 106
Yourcenar, Marguerite, 99

Zola, Emile, 223

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