Thursday, January 28, 2010

1913: Childhood to Remembrance of Things Past

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Maksim Gorky. Russian. 1913/14. Autobiography. Childhood. Memorable portrait of Gorky’s grandmother.

Marcel Proust. French. 1913/27. Novels. Remembrance of Things Past. Seven parts. In search of “lost time.” “Involuntary memories” = true meaning of past experience. Stimulated by object or circumstances; could not appreciate at the time of the experience. Conscious recollection colored by the person he has become. Unconscious association = simultaneous existence in present and past. Bourgeois and royalty, apparently different, are actually connected. Anticipated pleasure always exceeds actual pleasure. Art and dreams express associations that make essential reality perceptible—never life.

Swann’s Way. Introduces most themes. Recalls childhood house. Idealized love for Gilberte. Swann’s love for Odette many years before. Within a Budding Grove. Love for Gilberte ends. Falls in love with frolicsome girls. Albertine. Guermantes Way. Narrator ascends to summit of society. Saint-Loup’s passion for Rachel. Death of beloved grandmother. Cities of the Plain. Baron’s homosexuality. Changing nature of socially fashionable opinions. Discovers Albertine’s lesbian tastes. Baron launches Morel at Verdurins’ soirees. The Captive. Tries to keep complete watch of Albertine’s activities. She dies. The Sweet Cheat Gone. Oblivion gradually cures pain. Gilberte social climbs. Marries Saint-Loup, Morel’s lover. Past Recaptured. WWI accelerates changes in society. Finds most of former acquaintances almost unrecognizable. Turns “privileged moments” of memory into literary work of art.

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