Approaches to Teaching Proust’s Fiction and Criticism

  • Editors: Elyane Dezon-Jones, Inge Crosman Wimmers
  • Pages: xvii & 184 pp.
  • Published: 2003
  • ISBN: 9780873529082 (Cloth)
  • ISBN: 9780873529099 (Paperback)
Approaches to Teaching Proust's Fiction and Criticism Cover

“This book is a gold mine for instructors who can apply its wealth of concepts, ideas, and sources to classroom teaching. Furthermore, it serves as an important reference book not just for teachers but also for students, scholars, and anyone interested in gaining a thorough understanding in the study of Proust.”

—Marie-Magdeleine Chirol, Whittier College

Since the first volume of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu was published, in 1913, the work has challenged readers and critics by stretching the genre of the novel: storytelling is paired with essay discourse, fiction blends into autobiography, and the text follows the course of memory instead of chronology. The essays collected in this volume show how the Recherche grew out of Proust’s literary criticism to forge a novel that explores the aesthetic, social, philosophical, and sexual concerns of Proust’s time in bold, new ways.

The first section, “Materials,” demystifies the complex publication history of Proust’s works. The editors review an array of resources—from biographies, collections of essays, noted journals, and reference books to audiovisual materials, electronic resources, and dramatizations of Proust’s writing. In their review of online resources available for classroom use, the editors pay special attention to the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and Kolb-Proust Archive for Research.

The Recherche, at once canonical and subversive, has elicited a varied critical response, which the essays in the second section, “Approaches,” reflect. The first group illuminates the historical background of Proust’s artistic milieu and the role of the Dreyfus affair and the First World War in Proust’s development as a novelist. The next set interprets the function of names, memory, reading, and homosexuality in the Recherche and other works and discusses film versions of the novel. The final essays provide instructors concrete methods for teaching Proust in diverse teaching environments and at different levels of instruction.