Chapter Four explores Barthes’s work on Proust in (or across) three late texts (Comment vivre ensemble, ‘“Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure”’ and La Préparation duroman I et II) in order to show that the rhapsodic fabric of À la recherche is such that it outplays the very oppositions it is used (by Barthes) to build and to articulate: it is ‘neutral’ in this sense. Furthermore, this chapter argues that Barthes’s work on Proust’s paradigm-baffling work constitutes an intensely personal and convoluted space of vivid differences and variations, and that it is in this radical variety that the neutrality of Barthes’s writing is to be found. It shows for the first time that several passages in Le Discours amoureux and Fragments d’un discours amoureux can be read as rewritings – as intertextual nuancings and tintings – not only of specific passages in Proust’s novel, but also of Barthes’s Rabat seminar notes on them.
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