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Modernism and the Ordinary$
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Liesl Olson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195368123

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195368123.001.0001

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Beginnings and Endings: Proust’s Temporality and the Everyday

Modernism and the Ordinary

Liesl Olson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter explores how the temporality of the everyday functions with and against narrative form. It turns to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time as a case in point and also explores how this relationship plays out in modernist texts discussed in previous chapters. One of the difficulties—as the sheer length of In Search of Lost Time attempts to resolve—is the disjunction between the length of a novel, with its significant and inter-related events, and a fully lived life. The chapter examines the relationship in Proust’s work between art and life—or making one’s life into a work of art—also with reference to Aristotle and Nietzsche. Ultimately the chapter argues that In Search of Lost Time amplifies and distends its narrative in order to fit the temporality of the everyday, and yet the novel also recognizes the fundamental incompatibility of the everyday with narrative form.

Keywords:   Marcel Proust, narrative, life as literature, temporality, Aristotle, Nietzsche

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