‘Tout est affaire d'époque, de classe’:<sup>1</sup> Taste in <i>Un amour de Swann</i>

Edward J. Hughes

in Proust, Class, and Nation

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609864
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731761 | DOI:
‘Tout est affaire d'époque, de classe’:1 Taste in Un amour de Swann

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The chapter sets out to demonstrate how Pierre Bourdieu’s claim that ‘taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier’ finds a powerful literary instantiation in Proust’s Un amour de Swann. It is argued that in tracking the intensity of Charles Swann’s obsessive love for his social inferior Odette de Crécy, Proust’s Narrator is simultaneously drawn into a reconstruction of powerful aggressions that cluster tightly around issues to do with class, taste, and cultural production. The chapter attempts to show that the bourgeois teller is also drawn into the prescriptiveness and thereby comes, applying Bourdieu’s formulation, to classify himself. Yet the Narrator’s own judgements and those of other characters become a textually productive activity and demonstrate the workings of a form of social psychoanalysis.

Keywords: Un amour de Swann; Pierre Bourdieu; taste; social classification; social prescriptiveness; snobbery

Chapter.  12111 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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