Marcel Proust—perhaps France’s most famous literary writer—died 100 years ago. The politics of his time—the criminalization of homosexuality, the Dreyfus Affair, the lead up to World War I—shaped his life and his work. So, it’s reasonable to ask, what does Proust have to say about our lives in 2022? Proust’s 3,000-page magnum opus In Search of Lost Time continues to speak through time, largely not for the answers it provides but for the questions it asks. Proust’s novel is in part about memory, love, virtue, vice, prejudice, and folly—but the core of the book is a set of big, wonderful, difficult questions about life.
Thinking about these questions today won’t help us stop climate change or rising authoritarianism—but it will help us lead a richer inner life while we do so. And the experience of reading this amazing novel—the months or years we put into reading 3,000 pages, as difficult as delightful—does important things for us too. It shows us one shape a story of a life can take. It helps us understand ourselves, nudging us to ask ourselves questions we’d never even thought about before.
Begin that journey today with this exploration of the philosophical questions Proust asks us.
Featured image: photo by Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash, public domain
I need help using the interactive feature. How to get started? Do I have to buy something?
Hi Paul, thank you for commenting! No, you do not need to buy anything to explore the interactive graphic. Get started by clicking on the question marks on the graphic to see the pop-up boxes exploring different subjects in Proust’s writing. Best wishes, the OUPblog team.
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