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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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Walking on Stilts

Walking on Stilts

(p.130) Chapter Six Walking on Stilts
Mirages and Mad Beliefs

Christopher Prendergast

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Marcel Proust's use of the term “metaphor” in À la recherche du temps perdu, focusing in particular on a paragraph in which the image of heights is transferred to the aged Duc de Guermantes, figured as walking on living stilts from which one must inevitably fall. The metaphor of stilts is a clownish transformation of the metaphor of altitude, but the comedy has perhaps more than just thematic value, in the implied contrast between youth and age. The chapter also considers Proust's explicit comparison of Elstir's painting to poetic metaphor that is suggestive of an unstated similarity to—or tacit mise en abyme of—his own writing. The analogical track, the chapter asserts, is a self-confirming circle in which poetic metaphor furnishes an analogue for Elstir's painterly art, while the latter in turn stands as an analogue of Proust's literary art.

Keywords:   metaphor, Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu, altitude, youth, age, painting, poetic metaphor, literary art

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