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Roland Barthes: The Proust Variations$
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Thomas Baldwin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620016

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620016.001.0001

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Insect Life

(p.165) Afterword
Roland Barthes: The Proust Variations

Thomas Baldwin

Liverpool University Press

In order to describe the significance of Barthes’s Proust variations in the context of a society of the spectacle and in relation to the activities of civic-minded Proust critics, the Conclusion reads Barthes’s work on Proust in the light of Georges Didi-Huberman’s Survivance des lucioles. While Proust’s novel is uniquely indispensable and seductive to Barthes, the significance of the intermittent, firefly-like shimmers and flickers of his writing is also far-reaching: they shield À la recherche not only from the interpretative habits and strong-arm themes of the ‘Proustian’, but also from the stultifying influence of a still burgeoning field of ‘Proustiana’ that interposes layers of material between the novel and its (potential) readers, offering them little more than lifeless trophies. In doing these things, the Conclusion argues, Barthes on Proust beckons criticism towards a future that is creative inasmuch as it is gently luminous and productively unsteady in its intermittence and inconsistent variation.

Keywords:   Georges Didi-Huberman, Denis Roche, Fireflies, Proustians and Proustiana, Malcolm Bowie, Creative criticism

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