Balbec: A New Sociality

Edward J. Hughes

in Proust, Class, and Nation

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609864
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731761 | DOI:
Balbec: A New Sociality

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The chapter explores how the adolescent hero Marcel’s trip to the seaside resort of Balbec spells a crucial broadening in his socialization. It is argued that as a site of transition and social-class mobility, Balbec confronts an insecure hero with the expanding world of fin de siècle leisure. The town takes Marcel out of the caste-like fixity of Combray society and throws up a new, provisional sociality in which the cross-class rivalries of everyday life are reciprocated. New wealth and arrivisme are key points of focus in the social comedy which the Narrator constructs with often ludic intensity. In its consideration of the textual genesis of A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, the chapter also focuses on how the Narrator works with contrasting images of would-be vulgar, new leisure and the hero’s search for artistic inspiration in nature.

Keywords: fin de siècle; leisure; arrivisme; vulgar; class rivalry; Frenchness

Chapter.  20709 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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