Many of these courses were audio recorded and are available for purchase. If you're interesting in gaining access to a past MSCP course please email admin@mscp.org.au

Proust Among the Philosophers

Lecturer: Louis Klee

Originally Taught: Winter School 2020

Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu is not only an enduring work of modernist literature, but something that continues to challenge and intrigue philosophers, among them Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva, and Roland Barthes. This course will aim not to extract a theory from Proust—theories, as Proust once said, being like an object which still has its price tag on it—but to expand our understanding of how literature and fiction work as embodied philosophy, and what Proust can contribute to a philosophical understanding of time, memory, selfhood, desire, language, and sexuality. We will explore how in everything from Proust’s prose style and his notorious syntax through to his use of narrative structure and authorial self to build a decisive and original image of the workings of the mind; one that aims to map out a mental geography that includes the faculties of the intuition, imagination, judgment, intellect, and will. We will also examine the roots of Proust’s ideas in Pascal, Montaigne, Plato, Bergson, and Schopenhauer, and some of the parallels to Friedrich Nietzsche’s perspectivism. Finally, this course will offer the ambitious reader a guided way through first volume of À la recherche: Du côté de chez Swann.

Course Schedule

1. Picturing Proust, Translating Proust

  • Walter Benjamin, ‘Picturing Proust’
  • Extract from Lydia Davis, Proust, Blanchot and a Woman in Red 
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

2.  Self-Deceptions   

  • Extract from Malcolm Bowie, Freud, Lacan, and Proust
  • Extract from Pascal’s Pensées
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

3. The Proustian Self and le moi profond

  • Extract from Montaigne’s Essays
  • Extract from Contre Sainte-Beuve 
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

4. Proust and Signs 

  • Extract from Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs
  • Extract from Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time

5. Proust and Queer Desire

  • Extract from Anne Carson, The Albertine Workout 
  • Extract from Leo Bersani, Marcel Proust
  • Extract from Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Weather in Proust
  • Selection from In Search of Lost Time