Nonrecognition and Recognition in Proust

The article proposes an analysis of the ethical dimension of Proust's novel A la Recherche du temps perdu in terms of the categories of nonrecognition and misrecognition. The term nonrecognition is used to mean a deliberate turning away on the part of a person from another person's grief; misrecognition is the deliberate perversion of a human relationship into an inhuman one, by means of cruelty. These two categories comprise the negative pole and the ambivalent pivot of the ethical axis of Proust's vision. The positive pole is the category of recognition, seen in relation to forgetting and recollection, which constitutes the aesthetic, intellectual and religious center of attraction toward which Proust's novel moves and in which it finds its ultimate fulfillment. Thus the ethical inquiry leads to and reinforces the æsthetic analysis and accounts for the structural unity of the novel on more than one level. (WAS)

Strauss, Walter, A
Volume 1975-1976 Fall-Winter; 4(1-2): 105-23.