What is the nature of the search in A la recherche du temps perdu? It is not quite so simple as the English rendering of the title of Proust's masterpiece: In Search of Lost Time. In a remarkable instance of literary and philosophical interpretation, the incomparable Gilles Deleuze reads Proust's work as a narrative of an apprenticeship -- more ...
What is the nature of the search in A la recherche du temps perdu? It is not quite so simple as the English rendering of the title of Proust's masterpiece: In Search of Lost Time. In a remarkable instance of literary and philosophical interpretation, the incomparable Gilles Deleuze reads Proust's work as a narrative of an apprenticeship -- more precisely, the apprenticeship of man of letters. Considering the search as one directed by an experience of signs, in which the protagonist learns to interpret and decode the kinds and types of symbols that surround him, Deleuze conducts us on a corollary search -- one that leads to a new and deeper understanding of the signs that constitute A la recherche du temps perdu. Deleuze traces the network of signs laid by Proust (those of love, art, or worldliness) and moves toward an aesthetics that culminates in a meditation on the literary work as a sign-producing "machine" -- an operation that reveals the superiority of "signs of art" in a world of signs. In Richard Howard's graceful translation, augmented with an essay that Deleuze added to a later French edition, Proust and Signs appears here for the first time in its entirety in English. Admired in its original appearance as an imaginative and innovative study of Proust and as one of Deleuze's more accessible works, Proust and Signs stands as the writer's most sustained attempt to understand and explain the work of art. For what it reveals about both Deleuze and his subject, it remains a source of literary and philosophical insight, inspiration, and surpassing interest.
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