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Marcel Proust is the most written-about figure in 20th century literature; one might well have wondered what more of note could be said, but not after reading Roger Shattuck. His stunning reflections on the Proustian universe, on the meaning of ""memory, time and recognition"", are as indispensable to an understanding of Remembrance of Things Past as any other work around. It is a thoroughgoing, highly demanding, highly original interpretation. For Shattuck, Proust's controlling metashor is one of optics, his mammoth novel, being a sort of human astronomy, a ""psychology in space"", a microscopic-telescopic incorporation of the double consciousness of existence. Proust's tale is one of disenchantment: things are never what they seem, characters constantly contradict, themes continually shift. All allures, all loves turn to ashes; through its many moods, many mansions, the surest thing one learns about people are their perversities, both social and subjective, both outward and inward. Proust thus sought to track change to its source: along the false scent of error, out of deception and illusion, truth ""emerges"" and a revolutionary sense of ""here"" and ""now"" takes shape, achieving not a passive surrender to the celebrated instantane (the arrested instant of time), but an active one, a fully-realized ""self-creation"". His means were, scientifically and philosophically, not only the Heraclitean and Bergsonian flux, but also Einsteinian relativity and, unknowingly, Minkowskian geometry. All this younger critic Roger Shattuck (born 1923) dazzlingly demonstrates. A Proustian must.

Publisher: Random House