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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

(p.161) Chapter Seven Bodies and Ghosts
Mirages and Mad Beliefs

Christopher Prendergast

Princeton University Press

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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