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What Forms Can DoThe Work of Form in 20th- and 21st- Century French Literature and Thought$
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Patrick Crowley and Shirley Jordan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620658

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620658.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Aesthetic Form and Social ‘Form’ in À la recherche du temps perdu

Aesthetic Form and Social ‘Form’ in À la recherche du temps perdu

Proust on Taste

(p.207) Chapter Thirteen Aesthetic Form and Social ‘Form’ in À la recherche du temps perdu
What Forms Can Do

Alison Finch

Liverpool University Press

The frequency with which Proust uses the word ‘goût’ (taste) in À la recherche du temps perdu contributes to the patterning or ‘form’ of the novel, while raising questions about social ‘form’. Proust plays with the concept of ‘taste’ or ‘tastes’ in such a way as to interweave the bodily, the historical and the imaginary, constructing scenarios that depend on ‘taste’, variously interpreted, and that are – alternately or simultaneously – comic, quasi-anthropological or poignant (for example, those staging gay eroticism); he also creates puns that draw on both oral and aesthetic meanings of taste/s. Throughout the novel, he depicts the relativism of tastes, the battlegrounds on which these are fought out, and the complex relationship between taste and disgust. (Arguably, in some cases the battlegrounds are peculiarly French, given the political importance of ‘taste’ in the national culture.) Characters such as Albertine, Brichot and the ‘low-life’ Jupien all have their – sometimes unexpected – roles in these taste-wars.

Keywords:   Proust, taste, goût, society, Brichot, homoeroticism, relativism, disgust

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