Claims and Complaints

Edward J. Hughes

in Proust, Class, and Nation

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609864
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731761 | DOI:
Claims and Complaints

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The chapter begins by exploring how Proust’s contemporary Julien Benda identified the intensification of political attitudes towards class and nation as forming the regrettable hallmark of the age. Significantly, Benda was quick to flag Proust’s uneasiness about partisanship and was scathing about those contemporaries who fuelled class warfare or aggressive nationalism. The chapter reflects on Benda’s characterization of Proust as a writer who dissociated himself from what, Benda complained, was the alarming emergence of intolerant, mass-group identities. The chapter goes to draw out the ways in which Proust’s novel, constructed over a period of almost fifteen years, bears the compositional traces of an often ironic engagement with the social dialectic in a period of major social change (the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie, loss of social position for the aristocracy, the signs of working-class assertiveness).

Keywords: Benda; the intellectual; history; textual composition; genetic criticism; group identities

Chapter.  13105 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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