Events Calendar
Nov 27
17:00 - 18:00
Albertine and the Infinite Proliferation of Fragments in À la recherche du temps perdu
Centre for Modern European Literature Postgraduate Seminar
Marine Authier (Phd student in French)

Abstract: In Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927), Albertine is described as a fragmented character. Her extreme complexity does not allow the Narrator to define her as a whole. Throughout the novel, she remains 'un être de fuite' (creature of flight). For Nicola Luckhurst, Albertine is 'a knot' (2000: 102), while she seems more like 'a nebula' (1998: 2) according to Malcolm Bowie. Finally, Gilles Deleuze states that 'there are so many Albertines that we should give a distinct name to each' (2000: 68).

In this paper, I will argue that, in the Recherche, the fragmentation of Albertine is supported by previous mechanisms (enlargement, extraction, decomposition). The more the Narrator comes closer to Albertine, the more he notices the proliferation of fragments: her physical appearance is constantly shifting, her speech is full of intentional holes, and her sexual inclination is left uncertain.

I aim to demonstrate the two contradictory approaches regarding Albertine's fragments. On the one hand, the Narrator, as a jealous lover, gets himself tangled up in the obsession of deciphering. He desperately collects fragments but realises they do not fit together. Therefore, he never gets to know the truth about the young woman. On the other hand, Proust deliberately maintains Albertine in the mysterious realm of inexplicable multiplicity and takes the time to describe his Narrator's turmoil. This will allow me to insist on the shift that occurs with the Recherche: the negative proliferation of incoherent fragments becomes the essential subject of the Proustian creation.


Seminar Room 4,
Templeman Library,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Open to all,

Contact: Mary Daly


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