From Baalbek to Baghdad and beyond Marcel Proust's foreign memories of France

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A work of memory, Marcel Proust's novel is also a lieu de mémoire, a monument of French culture. Yet, we must remember how strange it is. Indeed, we recall here some of the oriental aspects of the book, like the 'semitic' traits friends and foes found in its author, or like its hero, in perpetual exile, whose recollections make Normandy or Paris into fabulous Mediterranean and Persian cities. However, the Orient of La Recherche owes little to Orientalism: rather, it shows a desire to disorient Frenchness, to take its origins elsewhere. Proust, whose style critics often qualified as 'Arabiscoid' or 'Talmudic', and who himself found the idea of a 'pure' French language ludicrous, deserves his place in the paradigms of 'non-metropolitan' Francophone literature. If La Recherche is a 'realm of memory', it is also the space and the work of a stranger.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of European Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


  • Estrangement
  • Frenchness
  • Jewishness
  • Orientalism
  • Post-colonialism


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