Proust in Time: Time Regained
In Time Regained—the final, unfinished volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time—World War I is inescapable. Proust’s magnum opus, begun in 1913, already bore the scars of modernity, but the War sounded the death knell of the rarified life he had known in his childhood. Yet, Time Regained is not merely about nostalgia or loss, even as it describes the ravages and reversals precipitated by war. It also concerns the problems of social form, the question of how art and artists are made, the way a form of life collapses, how to get on in a modern world, and the theory of involuntary memory Proust had been developing since the novel’s earliest drafts. Time Regained, composed at night as his own health was failing, gives us Proust’s final attempt at representing inner life in a social context. What, in the final accounting, is memory for Proust? And what is time? Is a final word even possible when it comes to understanding the aesthetics and politics of Proust’s vast work?
In this course, we’ll read Time Regained (the Modern Library Edition), supplemented by select materials from Proust’s critical tradition. Alongside the novel, we will also read entries in the history and theory of sexuality from, among others, Theodor Adorno, Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Leo Bersani, Malcolm Bowie, Michel Foucault, Gérard Genette, Julia Kristeva, Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, Eve Sedgwick, and Roger Shattuck. We will ask: what is Proust’s modernity? And what is it to be modern, as an artist or simply a resident of a modern world? Is art capable of redeeming history’s losses? What are the fates of queerness and Jewishness at novel’s end? Why does this novel end with the promise of its own genesis? What does it mean to read Proust now? And, as ever, what does it mean to read Proust in time?
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
September 12 — October 03, 2022