Proust and the Beach as Écran

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Abstract

In Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927), the Balbec seashore functions as the liminal space where water, with all its connotations of
life-giving power, meets the constraints of land, with its intricate social hierarchies and interactions. The painter Elstir instructs the young protagonist in
his way of regarding this seashore, which leads ultimately to a blurring of the
defining line between land and sea for the artist keen to convey his personal
vision. The protagonist takes full advantage of this education and later confirms
its value when, on the point of kissing Albertine for the first time, he observes
that in so doing, he hopes to ‘embrasser toute la plage de Balbec’ [be kissing
the whole Balbec sea-shore] (Proust: II, 658; III, 361). This conflation of girl
and beach is developed carefully throughout the Proustian narrative, and will
be traced in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLa Ligne d’écume
Subtitle of host publicationEncountering the French beach
EditorsSophie Fuggle, Nicholas Gledhill
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPavement Books
Pages67-88
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780957147072
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Publication series

NameStrands Book Series
PublisherPavement Books

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