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Proust, Class, and Nation$
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Edward J. Hughes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609864

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609864.001.0001

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Claims and Complaints

Claims and Complaints

Chapter:
(p.239) 8 Claims and Complaints
Source:
Proust, Class, and Nation
Author(s):

Edward J. Hughes

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609864.003.0009

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

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