Style (Proust's Sentences)

Joshua Landy

in Philosophy As Fiction

Published in print June 2004 | ISBN: 9780195169393
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787845 | DOI:
 Style (Proust's Sentences)

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This chapter examines the connections between Proust's philosophy, and his and his narrator's literary style. On the one hand, a set of stylistic features correspond neatly to the theory of self described in Chapter 3: the inconsistencies of the novel's chronology mirror the imperfections of memory; the shifts in tone translate the self's constant fluctuations; the multiple narratorial voices reproduce the disjointed nature of consciousness; and the syntax of the famously convoluted and multilayered sentences — which often seem to grow from the middle, constantly allowing for revision and reconsideration — imitates the process by which we attempt to shape the total self. On the other hand, and more importantly, Proust's style does something else: by encouraging us to hold a great deal of information in our head at once, to retrace our steps, and to doubt what we simultaneously believe, it offers the opportunity for a kind of training that may ultimately allow us to construct our own total selves, transforming our disorderly lives into works of art.

Keywords: self-fashioning; chronology; memory; tone; narrator; training; sentence structure; life as literature; spiritual exercise

Chapter.  7797 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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