John Singer Sargent, Portrait of Édouard and Marie-Louise Pailleron

Proust in Time: The Guermantes Way

Instructor: Rebecca Ariel Porte
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

As The Guermantes Way, the third volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, begins, the worlds of childhood and early adolescence are torn asunder as the narrator comes into maturity. Proust explores the faultlines of aristocratic society and the intensities of individual psychic experience in actions as small as a family’s move from one apartment to another and as large as the Dreyfus Affair, whose debates about the guilt or innocence of the Jewish officer Alfred Dreyfus revealed profound contradictions in modern French culture. Sexual desire, moral education and corruption, social mobility, death, mourning, gossip, betrayal, the creation, reception, and circulation of art: these are a few of the themes Proust takes up as the narrator comes of age along with literary modernism.

How should we understand Proust’s modernity? What should we make of the insistent presence of the Dreyfus Affair and its political and social implications in this installment of the book? How do Proust’s experiments in form reflect broader developments in intellectual, sexual, psychological, aesthetic, and technological topographies of the early twentieth century? What should we make of the attempt to derive, through fiction, universal laws of human character? How did Proust’s first readers understand his work and what should we make of it in our own historical moment? What was literary modernism and what is its legacy? In asking these questions, we’ll also be posing two larger queries: what does it mean to read Proust now? What does it mean to read Proust in time?


Course Schedule

Monday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
September 09 — September 30, 2024
4 weeks


Registration Open

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