Modern Language Association

Proust and the New Novel in France
Author(s): E. Zants
Source: PMLA, Vol. 88, No. 1 (Jan., 1973), pp. 25-33
Published by: Modern Language Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461322
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Michel Butor. and the New Novelists would be the first to agree. Nor shall I try to make a New Novelist out of Proust.3 Among the esthetic tenets of the New Novel that can be found in Proust is the underlying assumption that the novel represents a search for an unknown reality in which the reader participates and by which the reader's vision of the 25 world is transformed.2 But Bonnet ignores the phenomenological point of departure used by both Proust and the New Novelists. that Sainte-Beuve did not consider this as the fundamental criterion for judging a work of art-or of literature." This perfectly describes Jacques Revel. Joyce.1This comparison easily establishes Proust as a forerunner of the contemporary novel. the narratorin Butor's L'Emploidu temps: he writes in the hope of discovering what the town of Bleston is all about. For instance. and Nathalie Sarraute are well acquainted with all of these ancestors.e. A second aspect of the new esthetics is that the unknown reality consists of ordinary events juxtaposed in such a way that they reveal a new truth to the reader. to a novel having biographicallydefined characters and a plot that is resolved. The final premise of the new esthetics that can be found in Proust is the attempt to grasp the form of society as a whole by means of the novel's structure rather than by describing the life of one individual. Joyce was certainly the great master of this technique. Claude Simon. and in this gallery Proust takes his place alongside Flaubert. but almost exclusively in relation to the traditional novel. There is not necessarily any advantage in arguing that they found their concepts in Proust. Faulkner. I am quite sure. his limitations within the field of those very esthetics he revolutionized are obscure if the former approach is used. Indeed. Works of art. but it is nonetheless an assumption that lies at the root of modern judgment of most works of art. "car elles n'etaient pas accom- . to be specific. I Seen as a search for an unknown reality. Insofar as the major New Novelists. Jean Santeuil contains a statement that any New Novelist might have quoted when looking for justification among his predecessors: "une fois devant son papier [Jean Santeuil] ecrivait ce qu'il ne connaissait pas encore.. But Proust has Santeuil reproach himself for these thoughts. His modernity has been discussed before. which he called "epiphany. The New Novelists themselves have been critical of Proust as often as they have proclaimed him their ancestor.and Kafka. generally this results in a presentation of existences rather than essences. all four of these characteristicsof the New Novel can be found in Proust. and fails to record either the similarities or the differences in their use of the phenomenological base. it can be claimed. have always done this.Dostoievsky. Alain Robbe-Grillet. a direct influence by one rather than another is almost impossible to demonstrate. many of the traits I shall discuss can be found equally in others of the ancestors already mentioned." but there had already been an extraordinary use of it in Proust. however. But showing the traits that both have in common reveals the modernity of Proust. It explains the absurdity of man's attempts to possess another human being and the solitude that has become the inherent state of characters in modern novels. Among the precursors of the New Novel.4 The impossibility of knowing other people and the related difficulty in understanding their acts and words is another premise of the New Novelists that can be found in Proust. Bonnet considers he is showing a difference between Proust and the New Novelists when he states that the latter have an existential orientation. but not as effectively as does a retrospective consideration from the point of view of the esthetics of the New Novel.E. The object of this essay is to ascertain what the New Novelists could have found in Proust. ZANTS Proust and the New Novel in France THE NEW NOVELISTSgenerallyagree as to their major literary ancestors.5 To a certain extent. i.

but he uses two Marcels for the narration: one who already knows all that will happen and the other who develops as the book progresses. le propre lecteur de soi-meme. but they are filled with descriptions of nothing happening. en fecondant les rares esprits capables de comprendre [l'ecrivain]. Ordinary things. that is."'15 similar for the New Novelists and Proust. Proust attempts to rectify this error (error. . or events are presented in juxtaposition in such a way that a new reality emerges. though Proust claims a little more exclusivity than they when he writes: "C'est son oeuvreelle meme qui. who truly did not know what reality he would discover by writing. for the next encounter often shows the character in quite a different light."'4 For all three writers." An even stronger defense for Proust comes in the last volume: "chaque lecteur est. je crois que c'est vous. thereby effacing the value of Jean Santeuil. les fera croitre et multiplier" (i. "Charlus entra au salon. to the New Novelists) in A la recherche by writing a first person narrative.10These methods of characterization put both the reader and Marcel in a state of suspense. Sarraute reproaches him for pointing out a new reality rather than permitting the reader to discover that reality for himself. Of great works of art. thereby placing the author between the reader and Jean Santeuil and removing the reader from direct participation in Santeuil's story. Victor Hugo pense encore. C'est grace a lui qu'il devient possible de dire ce que l'on ne savait pas dire auparavant. which.7 Proust can. people. just as Sarraute condemns Proust. . ." the narrator of Dans le Iabyrinthe: "Je crois que c'est moi. the story in the novel permits the reader to elucidate his own life's story."'3 RobbeGrillet reiterated the same idea when asked who was the "moi. or he could not have condemned Victor Hugo: "Dans ces premierspoemes." Nonetheless. Not . is what art is about. 227)? Proust claimed he had never written the sort of banal description typified by Valery's statement "la marquise sortit a cinq heures. ." constitute the same kind of trite statements as "la marquise sortit a cinq heures. Phrases like "as we shall see later" keep reminding the reader that Marcel will finally discover the Truth and that Proust the author is just showing us how it is revealed. quand il lit." "la princesse Sherbatoff etait morte a six heures. soit que . entra au salon" (InI. He did not think he was depriving the reader of his creative role in A la recherche." which leaves in doubt the cause or explanation for certain events. de donner a penser."16All these writers believe in the power of their novels to transform men's lives. be defended. . sans ce livre. the stylistic trait of "convergences" used so abundantly by Proust allows the reader to interpret for himself.26 Proust and the New Novel in France pagnees de la joie particuliere qui etait pour lui le signe de la valeur des idees. First of all. 531). et par consequent transforment le monde. as Yvette Louria has demonstrated. society. "suivi de Brichot. Proust incurs blame for knowing prematurelythe reality he seeks. but Sarraute's statement in any absolute sense is incorrect. nothing happens in these novels. In the traditional sense."6 A New Novelist would reproach Proust for quite a differentreason. wrote of Proust "c'est nous-meme qu'en lui The objective of a book is nous redecouvrons. "The setting-into-work of truth thrusts up the extraordinary and at the same time thrusts down the ordinary together with our beliefs about it. au lieu de se contenter. Butor says: "elles transforment la fagon dont nous voyons et racontons le monde. qui nous apprit que la princesse Sherbatoff Etait morte a six heures. the world. de moi et de Sariiette. according to Heidegger. Proust may be frequently at fault."'2 Michel Butor could have been paraphrasing Proust when he wrote that "le romancier est celui qui vous rend capable de raconter votre propre vie et celle des autres. Claude Mauriac." at least when taken individually."8 Proust implies a condemnation of the early Hugo for explaining the world rather than leaving the interpretation to the reader."'7 What else does Proust achieve when he writes that Charlus. Proust never presents a character in his entirety and does not draw conclusions from any one encounter. for writing the story in the third person. L'ouvrage de l'ecrivain n'est qu'une espece d'instrumentoptique qu'il offre au lecteur afin de lui permettre de discerner ce que. il n'euitpeut-etre pas vu en soi-meme.9 Another stylistic trait having the same effect is the use of "soit que. often considered a New Novelist. comme la nature. Consequently. II At least one aspect of Proust's literarytechnique that was intended to alter our view of the universe finds an echo in the New Novelists. I believe.

The PrincessSherbatoffwas extremelyimportantto the groupin question.however.'se revelanta mesure que l'on penetredans l'aeuvrecomme douee de sens.that is.e. 27 with the result that veryfew people comprehend his surrealistpoetry.se transfigurer. whereasthe charactersof A la rechercheand of a New Novel aremultiplestatesof mindjuxtaposed.Theprestige of the Guermantes'townhouse in the eyes of Marceltells us as muchabout his snobberyas the husband's reactions to the centipede in La Jalousietell us about the state of his jealousy-in spite of Robbe-Grillet'sstatementthat objectsare presentin the New Novel "pourrien. Not even Swann's death receives traditional commentary.But. 857).deux etagesplus haut. The problem is a matter of definition:the traditionalnovel sportsbiographicallydefinedcharactershavinga particularnature."les moments nuls. depending upon the individual reader'sinterpretations.but we immediatelymake otherassociationspreciselybecauseof the juxtapositionof ordinaryeventsin this book. de Charlus crossesa threshold. tout a l'heure." writes Proust.they become equivalentto a high school sketchingclass.never residesin one term or unit in the comalone."'8 Suchpoignantexamplesare not often found in the New Novels. the ordinary. sous la surveillancede M.. of the stabilityof the self. writes Butor.the nephewthinksof his uncle.et tu te demandaisde dessinerles traits."24The interreactionbetween charactersandobjectswiththe resultinginstability constitutesthe fundamentalpreceptof characterizationof the New Novel.will appearquite as changedto his nephewat the end of the novel as the two representationsof Caesar do at the beginning.E."22RobbeGrillet'sclaim.The truthrevealedby art."IIy avait une gravurerepresentantle dictateur. The Sartrianconcept of Being "en soi" and .i. the relationshipsbetweenall the aspectsof civilization. The ensuingambiguity of a character'snaturehas causedcriticsto proclaim that "characters"have disappearedfrom the New Novel. "cette banalite qui est la continuite meme du romanavec la vie 'courante.His is announcedin the famous scene at the end of Le Cote de Guermanteswhere the Duchess rides off to the ball as Swann declines an invitationto join her and the Duke in Italy "becausehe will be dead by then. the extraordinary. Proust had acknowledged their raison d'etre in the modernnovel long before the New Novel arrived:"Naturellementles choses n'ont pas en elles-memesde pouvoir..These themeslead us to others in the book. as in Proust. however.and the contrastingreactionsinformthe readerof the stateof mindof individualcharacters. as a "setting-into-work" by means Butor's of juxtaposition.the juxtaposition of these banalitiestransformsthem into into a truth. Their presence provides somethingto whichthe characterscan react. And PierreVernier.Butor prefersa novel composedof the "momentsnuls"-and the descriptionof a lycee class certainlypromisesan abundanceof trite instances. What becomesextraordinaryis the unity. both of which are thrust down. Degres.As a consequence. as conceived by Heidegger." and for juxtaposingonly the exceptional.the juxtapositionof the two statementsof ordinarydaily events. "21And.20 Butor criticizedAndre Bretonfor havingcondemned the banal.ordinary commentaryhas become necessaryto make it understandable.the narrator. Caesaras a conquerorcorrespondsto the lesson on the discoveryof Americawhich is the pivotal center of the novel.Indeed. No authorialcommentarycould make the reader experiencethe triviality of existence as stronglyas the simplejuxtapositionof fact.was refutedby Butor in an interview." position of the terms into a context-in this instance. Zants in context.. "puisque c'est nous qui le leur conferons" (iII. the exceptionalelements have to be broughtback down to the "ordinary" level to which Breton objected. c'est toute la banalitedes choses autourde nous qui va en quelque sorte se renverser.. consequently.les deuxvisagesavaientsi peu de ressemThe reproductionis from the nephew's blance.but in the "setting-into-work. As for the ordinary objects present in these banal descriptions. Vernier.yet her death is relatedonly once in the novel: as M. Leo Bersanicommentson "the narrator'sdependence for self-identificationon a stable arrangementof things in spaceand the precariousnatureboth of these arrangementsand."19 text of Julius Caesar. providesan abundanceof good examples.Herlifehasbeenreducedto an insignificantact by mentioningthe two events at once.when translatinga passageof Julius Caesarreferringto the "lean and hungry look" of Cassius. even if the mundaneelementsof theirdescriptionscan only bejustifiedon the same grounds.23 Regardingthe role of objects in Proust. Martin.The historic events are thrustdown in such juxtaposition.

ses defauts. subjective" . "notre personnalite sociale est une creation de la pensee des autres. never know exactly how the others reacted either but we have become aware. "25 Proust has done the analytical work of preparation. mes actes.Proust and the New Novel in France 28 "pour soi" bridges the Proustian concept of characterization with that of the New Novelists. Explaining the relationship between his words and acts.pp. ses projects. provient leur malleabilite etrange. Sarraute made a similar statement when speaking of Dostoievsky's characters. .Part of Jacques Revel's confusion inL'Emploi duitemps can be explained by the fact that he reacts one way and does not realize that other people are reacting differently. On the one hand. He points out that "the Sartrian argument that consciousness has no content. a chaque instant. in the same place as the reader would find himself in the world. thereby substantiating the criticism Nathalie Sarraute makes of him for interpreting for the reader. Marcel discovers this when in ecstasy he waves his umbrella at the beauty of a spring day.e.' dans un etat d'opposition ou meme de simple indifference. (II. comme pour amadouer les autres. it turns out. Not only do people react differently. as Marcel learns. The dual role of the Other is constantly stressed in A la recherche.. 155). therefore. Leo Bersanianalyzes Proust's role in the development of the technique of characterization through a relationship to external objects. the effect on him of certain objects associated with her. for he discovers that she thoroughly slandered him when speaking to Jupien. lui donneraient si souvent l'impression d'etranges revirements qu'il me croirait a peu pres fou"(III. de se tenir 'sur son quant a soi. without anyone to "explain" the relationships. a a distance. claire et immobile devant nous avec ses qualites. he did not clearly understand the connection himself. a statement that could well be applied to her own characters: "De cette impossibilite de se poser solidement l'ecart. i. It is impossible not only for people to know one another. dispensed with the analysis itself and put the reader in Marcel's place. comme j'avais cru. in direct contact with the objects and the reactions of others to those objects. Along with its multiple selves created for others. he did not know either. . Proust also admits that this technique is false insofar as. Frangoise. Proust. is the first person to teach him that "une personne n'est pas. the readers. is anticipated in Marcel's surprised realization that he does not discover his love for Albertine by introspective analysis of his feelings. but also for them to react alike to the same event. and catches only retrospective glimpses of other reactions. for that is the only personality they ever recognize. But because he is confused. pour se les concilier. . conversely it is impossible to know another person-and this is as true in Proust as in any New Novelist. If character is nothing but the reflection of others. admits he disguises this: "etant narrateur j'expose mes sentiments [au lecteur] en meme temps que je luirepete mes paroles. but by noticing . that we do not know this. the writer. at the moment he committed an act. they merely assume that people react differently. a Proustian character also has a permanent self glimpsed privately during occasions of involuntary memory and dream. that it is an activity transcending toward objects. si peu en rapport avec elles. Any New Novel will provide examples of the impossibility of ever knowing another person: Jacques Revel is quite taken with Rose Bailey in L'Emploi duitemps and seems to believe the feeling reciprocated. III Proust's characters relate to one another just as the characters of the New Novel do. he says la verite "aujourd'hui j'en connais clairement 347). 34-35). this one permanent member of the various selves has disappeared in the New Novel. 347). . through reading the book."26A New Novelist would leave out the word "sociale" in describing Proust's characters. 67). Mais si je lui cachais les premiers et s'il connaissait seulement les secondes. cette singuliere docilite avec laquelle. whom Marcel be- lieved he knew and who he believed thought only kind and loving thoughts about him. we. the New Novelists have. . ils se modelent sur l'image d'eux-memes que les autres leur renvoient" (L'Ere du soupgon. New Novels never make this discovery. only to discover that she has become engaged to one of his friends whom. almost hitting a passing peasant who is not responding at all to the beauty of the day (i. but the acts of a given person do not necessarily correspond to his words. mais est une ombre oui nous ne pouvons jamais penetrer" (II.

Yet. qui tire tous ces personnages comme un vertige. This search for an impossible possession is not in itself a modern characteristic. first. significantly in regard to Sarraute's Planetarium: "cette phrase qui vient de nous echapper. everyone expects the Princessede Cleves to succumb-which for her would have amounted to complete possession by the duc de Nemours. ratherthan clarifying the experience he is trying to relate.Until the moment of her refusal. predestined to defeat. easily enough. d'un autre etre" (I. does distinguish the modern character's pursuit from that of former characters.and the same is true. de remous proches ou lointains. Certes. car l'evenement retrouve change de niveau et de sens. n'est pas seulement suivie de repercussions. however."27 The New Novelist has trouble simply putting his words together even without acts to confuse the issue. et il comprit quelle folie avait passe sur lui quand il avait. that distinguishes it from many of its predecessors. d'une impossible et apaisante etreinte. once again. the meaning could not possibly coincide in the words both as expressed and as interpreted by the other person because their frames of reference would necessarily be different. Sarraute similarly explains the motivation behind them. This lucid trial. Odette and Albertine succumb. un retour en avant. it does have an existential explanation. Likewise. in that it is impossible to know others. by existential definition. for instance -is almost nonexistent in literature. different in nature.one may still conclude that the difficulty of communication resides. He is aware of this and. ils debordent sur l'avenir par la memoire que nous en gardons. which explains his very personal interpretation of Proust as "une recherche du temps perdu. and recognizing man's essential solitude at the same time that he attempts to communicate. mais ils demandent une place aussi au temps qui les precede. puisqu'il se deforme a mesure que je l'explore. si l'on permet cette expression. Butor expressed the problem in a comment. on dira que nous ne les voyons pas alors tels qu'ils seront. elle est aussi precedee de preparations et d'attentes. Certes."31 This trait of characterization is difficult to defend as purely modern. but the reader never concludes that they thereby belong to Swann or Marcel in any absolute sense. in that time causes a character'sperception of an event to change and. for the opposite-the successful possession of a happy love. for her characters: "C'est ce besoin continuel et presque maniaque de contact. 364). Jacques Revel explains that his attempt to describe Bleston. the impossibility of knowing another makes the conquest of one person by another meaningless. Not even the jealous husband of Robbe-Grillet's La Jalousie tries to hold on to his wife as a possession in the same sense. le soir oi il n'avait pas trouve Odette chez les Verdurin. mais dans le souvenir ne sontils pas aussi modifies?"29 Butor repeats the same idea in L'Emploi du temps. A recurring theme of many modern novels is that a character could not possess another human being who is. hoping she is not interested in another. les incite a tout moment a essayer par n'importe quel moyen de se frayer un chemin jusqu'a autrui. Zants A New Novelist never reaches the point where he appears to know the why and wherefore of the events in his novel. mais il y en avait des centaines d'autres. In the New Novel even the attempt has disappeared. Since words are the expression of our experiences and since everyone reacts differently to events in these books. Swann and Marcel still try for complete possession."28Butor once again could be paraphrasing Proust who wrote: "II semble que les evenements soient plus vastes que le moment ou ils ont lieu et ne peuvent y tenir tout entiers. mais cette recuperation de l'enfance n'est nullement un retour en arriere. Swann realizes that "il pouvait peut-etre la preserver d'une cer- 29 taine femme. puisqu'il se deforme a mesure que je le parcoure."30Without disputing this interpretation of A la recherche.E. commence de desirer la possession toujours impossible. second. elle est. The duc de Nemours appeared to have all the qualities and all the circumstancesin his favor. he still tries. nonetheless. Thinking of Odette. His attitude in this respect is completely passive. 171). has become a labyrinth "incomparablementplus deroutant que le palais de Crete. and not even he could win the Princesse de Cleves. The recognition of the absurdity of possession has forced the New Novel to use something other than love as its subject . he just has to sit by and watch. saying that "ce travail de l'esprit tourne vers le passe s'accomplit dans le temps pendant que d'autres evenements s'accumulent" (p. Speaking again of Dostoievsky's characters.

. "appartient bel et bien au passe . or so one may conclude. the novelists that believe one can know neither oneself nor another claim society as a whole as the only valid subject matter. . In the New Novel the point is in present time and therefore progresses from the beginning to the end of the novel. et sans quoi je n'auraispas connu Albertine. it is "comme un foyer au milieu de toute une zone d'imaginations et de probabilites" (p. j'essayasse d'en decrire la courbe et d'en degager la loi?" (lII. it was through or around him that all the other relationships were established. Sarraute's doorknob. Second..non pas seulementpar tout ce qui le concernaitlui-memeet Gilberte. Le destin du monde a cesse. We are obviously well on our way to Claude Levi-Strauss' structuralist theories.mais meme les Guermantes."33Butor explains the disappearance of the individual as the center of the novel by the realization that we are necessarily dependent on others for knowledge of our relationships with them and the world in general. that love was not a sufficientvehicle. except that Marcel and Swann try for so long to find the source of reality in love. Proust himself stated the singulai nature of the structureof his book when he wrote: "Ne valait-il mieux que. ces paroles qu'ils disaient.will not work because. as Proust himself tells us in "Le Temps retrouve": la matierede mon livre me venaitde Swann. or Butor's class hour. si originaux. or arcs. 915) The choice of a pivotal point through which all the trajectories of the novel pass establishes the circular form of the novel for both Proust and the New Novelists-with two notable differences. Swann served as a similar pivotal center in A la recherche. as Sarraute points out. Proust's circular structure is a completed curve. and as a consequence of the first difference. leur nature. in order to grasp the cause and effect. the narrator or omniscient author must watch from without. Butor's description of the structure of Degres . Proust had already demonstrated this. leur vie. The narrator of Butor's Degres says that the hour of class he is attempting to describe is "comme un clou fixant mon texte et l'empechant de s'egarer". puisque ma grand'-meren'eit pas retrouve Mme de Villeparisis. ces gestes qu'ils faisaient.34 Strangely enough. 986). Proust perhaps convinced the New Novelists. me venaitaussi de Swann. 117)." writes Robbe-Grillet. be it Robbe-Grillet's centipede. a circle.30 Proust and the New Novel in France matter.moi fait la connaissance de Saint-Loupet M. whereas the circularstructureof the New Novel tends toward multiple curves. In Proust and the New Novelists. If a character can know neither himself nor another. "Le roman de personnages. he may at least know how they are related. ne sauraient jamais se detacher completement."35he is essentially proposing to study the individual's relationship to the structure of the whole to which he contributes. pour nous. In Butor's novels. but the relationships he uncovers in the process are most revealing. the mass of detail revolves about a central point which forms a unity out of the disparate parts. love is a minor theme played in the background. mais de l'interieur comme quelque chose a quoi l'on appartient. de Charlus. .ou venait de me venir brusquementl'ideede mon aeuvre. . Proust's trajectories all take place in the past. in relation to the writing of the novel.36 Describing the whole of society from within necessitates a particularkind of structure. as he convinced himself in the role of Marcel. mais c'etait lui qui m'avait des Combray donne le desire d'aller a Balbec . First of all. When Butor says "il est indispensable que le recit saisisse l'ensemble de la societe non point de l'exterieur comme une foule que l'on considere avec le regard d'un individu isole.82 IV For the New Novelist. Balzac's cause and effect. . One could say the same of Proust. de s'identifier a l'ascension ou a la chute de quelques individus. (III. then. et dont les individus. The major concern is a search for reality. none of which are self-containing as is the curve of a circle. He never succeeds in fully describing the class hour. de sorte que ma presencememe en ce moment chez le princede Guermantes.ce qui m'avaitfait connaitrela duchessede Guermanteset par elle sa cousine. through a past point. a certain esthetic distance must be created. or linear structure. a biographically defined character whose history warrants recounting is inconceivable. si Eminents qu'ils soient. This difference completely changes the orientation of the novel in regard to the reader by involving him more intensely in its creation. as I pointed out earlier.

The New Novelists have no other justification for their novels though they vary the techniques and degree. L'Emploi du temps is written in an attempt to become conscious of what Bleston is all about. si minuscules qu'ils puissent etre au premier abord. The completed past that rules over A la recherche constitutes the major distinction between Proust and the New Novelists. Earlier in his Metamorphosesdu roman in which this interview was reprinted. he .42If the individual is no longer the center of the novel-and it is surprising how little we know about the narrator-"protagonist"of A la recherche -his vision of society from within the novel. suscite un cercle ou une sphere. Sartre himself had referred to her characters as "existences" in the existential sense. the former having written a novel of "essences. les transforme en 'essence." Although there are thousands of moments in A la recherchewhich exist in their dynamic form.. he referred to them as "existences.' Mais on doit parler d'existence si le lecteur peut les vivre a partir de leur developpement et 31 jusqu'a leur aboutissement. l'apprehensionintellectuelle. dans l'appartement d'une vieille dame. which intersects the description of the class hour. Sarraute is basically correct when she says of Proust that "tous ces efforts ont eu pour objet de ressaisir la conscience apres coup. is communicated to the reader to varying extents via the work of art."40 The same statement can easily be made of Butor's novels. the Jacques Revel does not even succeed in reaching that state of consciousness. Je tente pout ma part. It is perhaps a definition of a "modern" novel. such as the centipede in La Jalousie. expressed by the relationships he establishes. he is quite sure that Marcel has become conscious of his vocation as a writer. there is still a central point. When the reader finishes A la recherche. Later Sarraute could modestly admit that Sartre was right when." and the latter. in speaking of her characters. and that Proust was conscious of it from the beginning. it is still directly connected with the future and cannot. et chacun des evenements qui le peuplent.37 The plurality of curves is not by any means restricted to the structure of Butor's books."39 In his preface to Sarraute's Portrait d'un inconnu."38 Robbe-Grillet prefers to describe the structure of his novels in terms of grillwork. et un genre litteraire deja epuise. He himself analyzed Sarraute's Planetarium "comme entoure par l'onde qui provoque l'installation. therefore. The development of any one trajectory and the birth of new ones is still possible.. can Butor stop the descriptive machinery he had set in motion. or kind. "de la surprendre tandis qu'elle se forme. ni ou ils vont. Only by setting up another curve. if any. attempts not to omit anything externally important.E. but A la rechercheby no means led to a dead end in the development of the novel as a genre. The description of the class hour becomes an increasingly complex machine with infinite possibilities for further development. car on ne peut la recommencer" (p. Auerbach had already measured the distance covered by Proust when he wrote of A la recherche: "There is greater confidence in syntheses gained through full exploitation of an everyday occurrence than in a chronologically well-ordered total treatment which accompanies the subject from beginning to end." as Germaine Bree says. In Proust. of vision expressed. the curve of the narrator'slife."41 The same is true not only of Flaubert but also of the New Novelists. novels of "existence. on the other hand. the New Novelist could find his basic orientation. toward which the vision is directed regardless of the grill." she says. Alberes wrote: "La Recherche du temps perdu n'est pas un 'roman. Zants stresses the plurality of these curves. A structure consisting of multiple curves is a consequence of the pivotal point existing in the present rather than in the past because. More specifically. imitators. sans savoir ni ce qu'ils sont.' elle constitue a elle seule un genre litteraire." "Bien entendu. "the only form that can communicate the essence of an individuality. Proust claimed art as the sole means of communication for an individual's vision. for the characters' relative "essences" which Proust discovered are still a far cry from the known reality described in the traditional novel. In a questionnaire addressed to several writers.a posteriori et globale de ces mouvements . being present. be a completed circle as one existing in the past may be. 244). and emphasizes the great turning points of destiny. s'inscrit sur une trajectoire qui influence toutes les autres. d'une porte nouvelle en chene naturel. Proust had few.

. 1954). CompareRobbe-Grillet'sstatementregardingcharactersin general: "ils pourronteux-memesetresriches de multiples interpretationspossibles. Conn: Yale Univ. 470) of the BullePtill de la Societe des Amis de Marcel Proust devoted to Proust and the New Novel. 12 (Nov.. p. 8 Proust. where he defendsProust precisely on this basis. and this is also true of H. 13"A quoi servez-vous ?" Nouvelle Critique. ."43 Could there have been a more thorough imitation of this aspect of Proust than Claude Mauriac's own Agrandissementpublished in 1963? The title of the novel itself summarizes Mauriac's critique of Proust. Mouton. 5 (1969). in (Paris: Gallimard. ni. 1952). Proust a senti la necessite de refaire son roman . 1934). donner lieu a tous les commentaires" ("Litteratured'aujourd'hui. But if he extends the concept of temporal juxtaposition to space. 1966). "Le 'Nouveau Roman' deProust. of Colorado Press. See also: M. Quoting fromJean Santeuil."Express. 135). a epuiser le spectacle exterieur ou interieur que l'auteur se proposait de decrire. pp. 1956). See E. Curtius: "Pour [Proust].-L. grace auquel je leur fournirais le moyen de lire en eux-memes"(iII. Unfortunately." CLS. mais." Diss. Press. 114-15. 301. 117-19. Bonnet'sarticlein the issue (p." L'Esprit Createur. 11 AlbertFeuillerathas amply demonstratedthis in Comment Marcel Proust a compose son roman (New Haven. 77-94. mes lecteurs. pp." in Metamorphoses du roman (Paris: Albin Michel. p 470. 108-09. pp. Hornsby'sarticle that approachesProust and the New Novel from the point of view of the traditional novel. . pp. Conrad.17 Jan. Proust. .mon livre n'etantqu'une sorte de ces verresgrossissantscomme ceux que tendait a un acheteurl'opticiende Combray. sans negliger aucun detail.'Arrivea ce point. But Claude Mauriac was obviously not the only "disciple" of Marcel Proust. esp. 461. pp. characters. 1956.traduit de l'allemandpar ArmandPierhal. ils pourrontselon les preoccupations de chacun. pp.. tout est relatif signifieque tout vaut.a traversce personnage. a deux generations. 127-28."The LiteraryEpiphanyin Some Early Fiction of Flaubert. 317-28. Alberes' "Proust: Roman artistiqueet roman phenomenologique.Proustand the New Novel in France 32 wrote somewhat the opposite: "Au mythe policier se joint un effet d'optique temporelle que Michel Butor est un des seuls a avoir su creer apres Proust" (p.033). she uses almost exclusively Robbe-Grillet'sPour un nouvealuroman. and Jane King Sherwin. etc. where Bonnet picks Sarrauteand Robbe-Grilletas "les deuxrepresentants les plus remarquablesde ce 'nouveau roman'"-though the least Proustian in many respects. 1960). au coeur du detail meme. 64. p. Quelle etait done sa methode. C'est-a-dire a pousser toujours plus loin le travail d'elucidation.. esp. and Joyce. esp. vous avez vu l'histoire se faire devant vous. 2 Bonnet. 371 (1963). O10See Raymond Jean. 1952).l'evolutionde tous ceux . mais les propres lecteurs d'eux-memes. le detail de ce detail. The influence of Proust is ironically underscored by Claude Mauriac in his brilliant analysis of 1953: "C'est un fait qu'il n'a pas de disciples . Also "[mes lecteurs]ne seraientpas. 1966).which also speaks of the New Novel in contrast to the traditional novel. it can be seen that in Proust reside vast possibilities for the novel to develop as a genre. 9 La Convergence stylistique chez Proust (Geneva: Droz. c'est-a-dire. 1957). 4 See my article "The Relation of Epiphanyto Description in the ModernFrenchNovel.Cattaui. Michigan1962. and there are undoubtedly more to come. 67-80. This orientation somewhat distorts the interpretation.mon livre. selon moi. 3 See esp. esp. and that in no way can A la recherchebe considered a solitary work. mais que tous sont vrais" (MarcelProust. p. No. Alberes may well be right. l'especehumainese transformer. See also the discussionbetweenMme Fabre-Luceand Messrs. . de quelle nature son instrument? L'une et l'autre tendaient . 5 See also my monograph for a complete treatmentof the esthetics of the New Novel: The Aesthetics of the New Novel in France(Boulder: Univ. 11). 12 in. 1966. and Pauline Newmants Marcel Proust et l'existentialisme (Paris: Nouvelles Ed. 1928.. plot.. 16 (1966). R. . Rousset.. he wiites:" ' . 75.so much so that he even explains the terminationof Jean Santeuilfor this reason.85. etc. No. "Chroniques. likewise Giorgetto Giorgi in the same issue. ed. "et celle des autres"is typicallyButor. 6 Jean Santeuil.I believe. 134-35. . Proustand Butor are sayingthe same thing with one difference:"optique"is typicallyProust. que chaque point de vue est fonde. Barrere. L'Ere du soupcon (Paris: Gallimard. A la recherche du temps perdu. 1. Georges Cattui and Philip Kolb (La Haye: Mouton. 67-68. le detail et encore. 478-83. in Entretiens sur Marcel Proust. M. 160). ii (Paris:Pleiade. P.Paris: La Revue Nouvelle. Dealing with only the temporal aspect of Proust. 7 (Summer 1967). Larcher'spresentationin the Bulletinde la Societe des Amis de Marcel Proust. pp." Cahiers du Sud. All referencesto A la rechercheare to this edition. 549. 1968).pp. si possible. Le fait que des points de vue infinissont possibles ne signifie point qu'aucun n'est vrai. Universityof Hawaii Honolulu Notes 1See Jessie L. 7 See Sarraute.. Latines. R. afin de ne plus nous montrerseulementla vie et l'evolution d'un personnage. 911.

7. 20 See Alberes.1. 18Another example from Proust would be the scene where Mme Verdurinis delightedly eating her croissant while reading about the sinking of the Lusitania (nII. 19. 106.Eng.p. 1957). 484. and the discussionfollowing his lecturepublishedin Cattauiand Kolb. p."Arts. 41 Erich Auerbach. 1964). 36 See Proust'sown analysesin Le Temps retrouve regarding the importanceof relationshipsand rapports for the structureof his novel.. 52-53. and JulietteMonnin-Hornung.g. 7-26. 19 (Paris: Gallimard. 1960)." etc.p. 912. an event which becomesextraordinaryfor Marcel. 134-35.1960). Philoso- phies of Art and Beauty (New York: Modern Library. In Proust-and this would be true of the New Novel as well-"la realite [or the social world] loin d'etre revue comme le modele d'une experience. 7. 1951). esp. 2. 32 The opposite could be argued by implication. 26-27. "Techniciensdu roman: Nathalie Sar- raute. p. 19. 916-17. p.E. 124-29." The Image in the Modern French Novel (Cambridge. '4 Lectureat Columbia Univ.pp. 24 Marcel Proust: The Fictions of Life and of Art (New York: Oxford Univ. 38 "Le Planetarium. and events serves in the New Novel wheremetaphorand analogy are almost completely absent. p. 45-46.. "The Metaphorical Texture of Proustian Novel.. 22 Denise Bourdet. objects. p. p. 100-01." FR. A similaranalysis could be made of quite a different event: Marcel's mother meeting Swann at the umbrella counter of Aux Trois Quartiers(r. 1931). 1966). as a third person narrationof the prototypeof Robbe-Grillet's La Jalousie.. Gaetan Picon correctlyobserves that Proust'ssocial world differsfrom society as presented in the traditionalnovel because in the latter society is a known factor to which the individualattempts to adjust. they lose their significance on their passagethroughthe cataractof the personalitythat is opposed to them.p. pp. pp.p. 40 Sarraute. See also the commentof SamuelBeckettin his Proust(New York: Grove. 2. 23 Roger Priouret. 124-25. 772- 73). 915." Cercle Ouvert (Paris: La Nef de Paris."L'Objet dans le roman contemporain. esp. But in this way Proust teachesthe readerto see the extraordinary in other common descriptions. apparentlymisses the chance for a true relationship in love: Jacques Revel loses Rose Bailey and Pierre Vernierwill probablylose Michele.. pp.. 107.p. 29 11in.pp. 9 (printemps 1962). 1965). 8. 195).though not so much for the reader. 132. 11.aujourd'hui-ii. 8 Dec. 26 1. 34 Repertoire11. 414). 33. . For a discussionof this use of metaphorin Proust.029-33." Visages d'aujourd'hui (Paris: Plon. 27 Butor. eds. 1953). pp. 187. 137. A voluminouscommentaryon other aspects of juxtaposition in Proust already exists. Mimesis (New York: Doubleday." Tel Quel. 9-20. 28 "Le Planetarium. 35-57. 51. 25 33 Marcel Proust: The Fictions .p. 33Pour un nouveau roman (Paris: Gallimard. 16 Repertoire II (Paris: Ed. e. esp. p.29 mars 1958. The attempt at possession found in the jealous charactersof both Proustand RobbeGrillet has another similarity:see Proust. 1." Repertoire II. the narrator." Nouvelles Litteraires.it is true. in. 401. . p. 15.1963). 25 juin 1959. esp. 1956)." Monde Nouveau-Paru. 30 Repertoire (Paris: Ed. 36 (1962). 37 FredericC. 1964). 31 L'Ere du soupcon. "Entretienavec MichelButor.: CambridgeUniv.pp. 1960). L'Emploi du temps (Paris: Minuit. 74). 925. p. pp. 30-31. 1964. est disposee comme l'object d'une experimentation"(Lecturede Proust. regarding Butor's and Proust's use of juxtaposition. 35 Repertoire II. le jeu complique des paroles et des silences.04647.p. p. 17 Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns.p. and Bersani. 20. In two of Butor's novels. 15In his Marcel Proust par lui-meme (Paris: Seuil. 35. as in the other examplescited. le jeu complique . Zants qui sont avec lui dans le temps"("JeanSanteuilpar Marcel Proust. 1952."and the ensuingdiscussion. 986. Press."La Litterature. pp. 1960). 3 juin 1959. de Minuit. 44. 696. "L'Optiquede Proust. This article treats the relation of metaphor to juxtapositionas well. 1963. 43 Marcel Proust par lui-meme. de Minuit. pp. 232.Proustet la peinture (Geneva: Droz. St. 1957). esp. 225.at least. See also Il. 42 The World of Marcel Proust (Boston: Houghton. Press. and 57. p. see Stephen Ullmann. "Alain Robbe-Grillet. p. 90. 23. 39 Andre Bourin. "Revolution dans le roman?" Figaro Litteraire.attemptingto discover reality and becoming more and more lost in the attempt. Paris: Mercurede France. 23-25. George Poulet's L'Espace proustienconstitutingthe backbone of such commentary. Aubyn. See also in Cattaui and Kolb: Jean Mouton. . p. 159. 184. See also pp. " p.. See Jean Hyppolite. Proustianmetaphorand analogy often serve the same revelatorypurpose that simplejuxtaposition of facts. 83. 110-11. 33. See also the "prologue"of my monographcited above for a morecompleteanalysisof this objective. 21 See "Le Roman et la poesie. 47: "Even on the rare occasions when word and gesture happen to be valid expressions of personality.