Fall 2017 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for fall 2017 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

The Two Worlds of Marcel Proust

Harold March

288 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Cloth 1948 | ISBN 9781512804355 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512804362 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

In the years since Proust's death there have been many specialized studies of his extraordinary novel, and his character and viewpoint have been violently attacked and warmly defended. Here at last, written with sound scholarship but addressed to the general reader, is a full, frank, and unbiased account of the man and his work, and a clear statement of what he has to say to the world today.

Chronological biography is interpolated with detailed analysis of Proust's work in reference to his intellectual and emotional development. Stressed as important contributing factors in his development, aside from the influences of the decadent '8Os and '90s, are the subordination of intellect to intuition, the discovery of involuntary memory, the search for affection and the enduring friendship, the torments of jealousy in a sensitive mind, the burden of homosexuality.

The author shows how the dreamy, sensitive, affectionate boy who loved sunlight and the out-­of-doors was transformed into the legendary recluse of the cork-lined chamber—a strange, somnambulistic creature with luminous eyes, waxy pallor, and dank matted hair who, shivering and drugged, had himself driven in a tightly dosed limousine for a look through glass at his still-loved fruit trees in bloom.

It was asthma that accomplished the transformation—asthma and the strange paralysis of the will when he was called upon to make a decision. But in his enforced seclusion Proust's profoundly analytical mind, extraordinary intuitions, and astounding memory explored the fruits of experience, and produced his epoch-making work. Out of his physical and emotional sufferings he evolved his philosophy of the two worlds: one the world of time, where necessity, illusion, suffering, change, decay, and death are the law; the other the world of eternity, where there is freedom, beauty, and peace. Normal experience is in the world of time, but glimpses of the other world may be given in moments of contemplation or through accidents of involuntary memory. It is the function of art to develop these insights and to use them for the illumination of life in the world of time.

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