La Pudeur en Crise. Un aspect de l’accueil d’A la recherche du temps perdu de Marcel Proust (1913-1930) Modesty in Crisis. An Aspect of the Critical Reception of Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1930)
Sammanfattning: This study describes the moral debate which came about as a result of the publication of A la recherche du temps perdu in France. On several occasions, Marcel Proust himself suggested that this was a « highly indecent » work. It is the intent of this study to show what his contemporaries thought of the moral aspect of A la recherche. The material for the study has been collected through a systematic examination of what was written about Proust and his work in the French press between 1913 and 1930. Contents. The introduction contains a brief survey of earlier studies on the critical reactions to Proust’s work. Each of the five chapters corresponds to a specific stage in the moral debate concerning A la recherche. Chapter One is devoted to the reception given the work before the publication of Sodome et Gomorrhe, when Proust was generally thought of as a writer portraying life and manners in the tradition of the French 17th Century moralists. It was only after the publication of Sodome et Gomorrhe that the critics started to attack Proust from a moral point of view because of the open way in which he approached the subject of homosexuality. This is dealt with in Chapter Two. The third chapter is an account of the articles written about Proust immediately after his death in November of 1922. A number of critics were then of the opinion that Proust had taken a position neither for, nor against, the characters of his work, and that he therefore had omitted an important moral and spiritual dimension in A la recherche. From this period on, the debate concerning Proust’s work became a part of the general debate concerning literature and morality. Chapter Four describes the reception given to the posthumously published volumes La Prisonnière and Albertine disparue. The last chapter deals with the reception of Le Temps retrouvé and the first attempts at a critique of the entire work. The last volume caused many critics to reassess their former opinion of A la recherche, since this volume, in their eyes, added the dimension which they previously considered to be missing. However, the critics remained divided: In 1930, one group thought of Proust as a moralist who had described his times objectively, while another saw him as a subjective and amoral author who had rendered in his books the neurotic individual’s view of his surroundings. The bibliographical part of the study lists a number of books and articles published between 1913 and 1930 which have not been mentioned in earlier Proust bibliographies.
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