Proust’s Emotional Cavities: Vision and Affect in 'A la recherche du temps perdu'

Haustein, Katja (2009) Proust’s Emotional Cavities: Vision and Affect in 'A la recherche du temps perdu'. French Studies, 63 (2). pp. 161-173. ISSN 1468-2931. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Against the background of the 'waning of affect' in modern times(1) and the (post-) Freudian consignment of feelings to theories of drives, the ineluctable question emerges of where we can satisfactorily place emotionality at all nowadays. What role do feelings play in works of art? This article reflects on these questions by examining the relationship between vision (both bodily and photographic) and affect in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. Reading Proust's work as part of a growing tendency to hollow out the Romantic idea of emotion, the article explores the advancing displacement of 'holistic emotionality' by the rapid increase in 'emotional cavities'. These are zones devoid of any emotional contact or correspondence between the narrator and the world he perceives. In close readings of the scenes connected with the death of the grandmother and of Albertine sleeping, this article argues that Proust introduces a new understanding of affect that neither theorizes it as essential and all-pervading nor simply disqualifies it in a modernist gesture of denial. Instead, Proust's work proposes a conception of affect that eventually appears as privatized, contingent and in peril.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Fiona Godfrey
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2012 13:00
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 14:25
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