Proustian Uncertainties: On Reading and Rereading in Search of Lost Time

Saul Friedländer. Other Press, $25 (176p) ISBN 978-1-59051-911-0
Pulitzer-winning Holocaust historian Friedländer (The Years of Extermination) meditates on the “extraordinary pull” and hidden depths of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu in this intriguing extended essay. Making no claim to be a Proust specialist, Friedländer is less interested in the novel as a piece of literature than as a personal document of Proust’s secretive and complex personality. He explores how the “strange, contradictory statements” of the book’s narrator reflect “the voice of the author’s unconscious,” especially regarding Jewish identity (to which Proust had a conflicted relationship), his sexuality as a gay man, and Proust’s fascination with cruelty, which Friedländer finds “all-pervasive and depicted from all possible angles” in Proust’s work. Admiration for the complex “social tapestry” of the novel and Proust’s “sumptuous” style permeate Friedländer’s musings on the novel’s exploration of memory, death, the “invisible presence” of time, and unrequited love (the last theme inspired by, Friedländer speculates, Proust’s unfulfilled attraction to his driver, Alfred Agostinelli). Proust fans will enjoy these appreciative, personal peregrinations through “one of the most important novels ever written.” Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt, Inc. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 07/15/2020
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-59051-912-7
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