Proust, the Body and Literary Form

Proust, the Body and Literary Form

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This 1999 study examines the connections between Proust's fin-de-siecle 'nervousness' and his apprehensions regarding literary form. Michael Finn shows that Proust's anxieties both about bodily weakness and about novel-writing were fed by a set of intriguing psychological and medical texts, and were mirrored in the nerve-based afflictions of earlier writers including Flaubert, Baudelaire, Nerval and the Goncourt brothers. Finn argues that once Proust cast off his concerns about being a nervous weakling he was freed to poke fun both at the supposed purity of the novel form. Hysteria - as a figure and as a theme - becomes a key to the Proustian narrative, and a certain kind of wordless, bodily copying of gesture and event is revealed to be at the heart of a writing technique which undermines many of the conventions of fiction.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 228 pages
  • 152 x 228 x 16mm | 354g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 0521027543
  • 9780521027540
  • 1,964,531

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Proust between neurasthenia and hysteria; 2. An anxiety of language; 3. Transitive writing; 4. Form: from anxiety to play; Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.
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Review quote

'Finn has given us a splendid book.' Nineteenth-Century French Studies "By viewing A la recherche as a narative of disease...Finn succeeds in clarifying many aspects of the novelist's manner and matter...Finn has given us a splendid book." Gerald Prince, Nineteenth Century French Studies " intriguing psychological portrait in which Proust the writer finds a cure for his own inability to write literature by conceiving of literary form in dialogic terms--which allowed him to write the novel that he always knew was within him." Choice
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