Proust, Photography, and the Time of Life: Ravaisson, Bergson and Simmel


Challenging traditional readings of Remembrance of Things Past, Suzanne Guerlac offers a unique angle on the text, arguing that Proust does not record the dead time of recollection, but the effervescent time of becoming and the complex vitality of the real as it was encapsulated by three philosophers contemporary with Proust, Felix Ravaisson, Henri Bergson and Georg Simmel.

It is this openness to the present moment that makes it hard for both the fictional hero and Proust himself to stop writing. By placing Proust's novel within a web of money and contemporary popular culture such as commercial photography, photojournalism, pornography, the regulation of prostitution and the Dreyfus Affair, Guerlac reveals that Proust's motivation was not the recuperation of lost time, but the great adventure of living in the present moment, at a definite historical moment and on an individual and social level.