On December 6, 2023, the Modern Language Association of America announced it is awarding its thirty-first annual Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies to Michael Lucey, the Sidney and Margaret Ancker Professor of French and Comparative Literature for his book What Proust Heard: Novels and the Ethnography of Talk, published by the University of Chicago Press. The prize is awarded annually for an outstanding scholarly work in its field—a literary or linguistic study, a critical edition of an important work, or a critical biography—written by a member of the association. The award will be presented on 5 January 2024 during the association’s annual convention, to be held in Philadelphia. The selection committee’s citation for Lucey’s book reads:
Novelists talk back to other novelists, and we should pay attention, intimates Michael Lucey in What Proust Heard: Novels and the Ethnography of Talk, an inventive book featuring three interludes that bring five novelists into conversation. Proust’s voluminous novel In Search of Lost Time paints for readers a world full of meaning, tastes, gestures, and utterances. Literary references as well as banal asides are the subject of narrative investigation, revealing the regional, class, and cultural status of characters. Lucey suggests that Proust should be considered a theorist of social talk, on equal footing with sociologists and linguistic anthropologists. A work worthy of its weighty subject, What Proust Heard testifies to Lucey’s command of Proust’s literary language and its reach to writers in many generations.