Jim Coughenour's Reviews > Proust in Love

Proust in Love by William C. Carter
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Jan 22, 10

bookshelves: literary-criticism, biography
Recommended for: Proust lovers
Read in January, 2010

Early readers of Proust observed that many of his female characters are men in disguise — and this is the thing that has always disturbed my pleasure in In Search of Lost Time. For several months I've been stuck in The Prisoner (the 5th of the 6 volumes of the Penguin Proust), irritated by the improbability of the Narrator's jealousy toward Albertine, his ostensible erotic obsession – when (for me) the Narrator's entire sensibility is palpably gay. The whole setup feels false, strained and ridiculous.

Carter's Proust in Love addresses Proust's homosexuality with sophistication and grace. Unlike critics who seem content with providing the scandalous biographical "keys" to Proust's characters (e.g., Albertine = Alfred Agostinelli, Proust's chauffeur), Carter delves into the delicate dynamic of jealousy, eros and loss that troubles the heart of Proust's novel. All the juicy details are abundantly registered, but Carter restores the numinous essence of "time regained" – the mystery by which Proust transformed the tragic comedy of his life into art. I think I'm ready to enjoy the book again.

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