The Weather in Proust

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, edited by Jonathan Goldberg. Duke Univ, $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8223-5158-0
This posthumous collection of Sedgwick’s essays presents readers with a glittering kaleidoscope of “capacious concerns.” Sedgwick, a pioneer in queer studies, shines as she contemplates Proust, textile art, and mortality in language that is challenging and exhilarating. In the collection’s titular essay, she offers an elucidating contemplation on Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), reading it through the lens of psychoanalysis, steeping it in the writings of Freud, Lacan, Klein, and Winnicott. Drawing upon Klein’s object-relations theory, Sedgwick ties “Proust’s narrator’s inability to sleep in an unfamiliar space” to Proust’s own suffering from asthma, his “fear of being unable to breathe.” And Sedgwick’s particular insight further reveals itself in her analysis of the novel’s ending. She writes that traditional “psychoanalytically structured readings...have found the novel’s ending stiflingly marmoreal: the story of a successfully consolidated omnipotence.” However, under Sedgwick’s Kleinian lens, “omnipotence is a fear at least as much as it is a wish.” A reflexive and engaging writer, Sedgewick discusses how her practice as a “visual and textile artist” invigorates and personalizes her prose. She contrasts speaking and theoretical writing with working with physical material, praising the “reassuring grounding in reality.” Engaging with Sedgwick will fill readers will wonder. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/07/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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