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Mirages and Mad BeliefsProust the Skeptic$
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Christopher Prendergast

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691155203

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691155203.001.0001

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Bodies and Ghosts

Bodies and Ghosts

Chapter:
(p.161) Chapter Seven Bodies and Ghosts
Source:
Mirages and Mad Beliefs
Author(s):

Christopher Prendergast

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691155203.003.0007

This chapter examines Marcel Proust's views on the subject of the body and the prevalence of metaphorical ghosts in À la recherche du temps perdu. It suggests that the Proustian body may turn out to be something of a dead end, at least relative to Proust's restlessly curious interest in the vicissitudes of mental life. It emphasizes a primary opposition in the Recherche—between the body desired (the imago-body) and the body revealed (frail, infirm, wasted, grotesque)—and argues that the opposition is banal, a variation on Proust's way with the theme of vanitas vanitatum. Viewed in a larger historical perspective, Proust on bodies and ghosts involves his complex relation to an ideal of “embodiment” inherited from nineteenth-century aesthetics.

Keywords:   bodies, Marcel Proust, metaphorical ghosts, À la recherche du temps perdu, desire, vanitas vanitatum, embodiment, aesthetics

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