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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: 24 September 2021

‘La recherche que l’on peut dire formelle’

‘La recherche que l’on peut dire formelle’

Proust with Bourdieu

(p.219) Chapter Fourteen ‘La recherche que l’on peut dire formelle’
What Forms Can Do

Michael Lucey

Liverpool University Press

This chapter makes the case that Proust's Recherche offers a way of perceiving how our pleasure in aesthetic objects (novels, septets) can, when viewed from the appropriate angle, reveal the topography of the social world through which we must all necessarily find our way. How might the experience of a particularly social level of reality be communicated in a novel?  The social world can be understood in Bourdieusian terms as a space of immanent tendencies, one in which some people are more likely to follow one kind of social trajectory than another. Proust’s novel shares with Bourdieu’s sociology an interest in how a work of art, being the product of a social world, can on occasion serve as an instrument that reveals something of the immanent structures that contribute to the shape of the social topography around it.  It does so by producing differential effects on its public. The Vinteuil Septet is presented in the Recherche as a work that has this kind of differential social effect:  by producing different effects on different listeners it becomes a diagnostic instrument revealing the social topography around it. 

Keywords:   Pierre Bourdieu, aesthetics, sociology, formalism, music

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