World Views into Style: The Goncourt Brothers and Proust at the Opéra

The visits to the Opéra of a Goncourt hero and of Marcel illuminates some of the radical changes in French world views from the mid-nineteenth century to the start of the twentieth. In the interim, France shifted from the positivism and scientism of the Second Empire to the far more fluid, interconnecting understandings of a the new century. Abandoning the relative security of the world view prevalent in 1860, when the Goncourts published their Charles Demailly, Proust seeks instead to penetrate beneath the surfaces, which the Goncourts were content to rend in their écriture artiste, to a level of interiority where flux dominates and the neat, discrete categories of an earlier science now fuse together people, animals, plants, and architecture, in the unifying consciousness of the observer, Marcel in Du côté de Guermantes. (BFB

Bart, Benjamin F
Volume 1986-1987 Fall-Winter; 15(1-2): 173-90.