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Title: (Mis)reading Oriane : the construction and interpretation of a character in Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu'
Author: Sutherland, S. A.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2000
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Reading in Proust has long been a subject of critical enquiry. Some critics consider the Narrator's discussion of the topic in A la recherche du temps perdu; others examine it in the workings of the text. A number of Proustians note Albertine's importance to the (mis)reading problematic; this thesis follows their example in relation to Oriane de Guermantes. Having presented the background against which Proust's thematic of reading is explored, and various models of reading (from reader-response theory, psychoanalysis, and deconstruction), I discuss the relevance of seminal critical works to the topic of (mis)reading (Ellison, de Man, Genette, Deleuze), and works on Oriane. The tendency in previous analyses of Oriane is to view her (once Marcel's infatuation has ended) as little more than a social figure who teaches him to distrust the social world; I argue that her role is central to the larger themes explored in the novel - particularly reading, knowledge and desire. The third and main section begins with a discussion of Marcel's reading experience in 'Combray'; then Oriane's presentation in the context of the reading problematic is explored at length. This examination is divided into two broad categories: Oriane as Marcel's 'image', and as a social figure. The first involves a detailed discussion of idolatry, myth-making (imaginative and -paradoxically- scientific) and aesthetisisation; the second concentrates on the two major encounters between Marcel and Oriane in the social world, preceded by her encounter in similar circumstances with Swann. The same complex impulses (erotic, hermeneutic ) drive the construction and interpretation of Oriane throughout the novel, in spite of any declarations of indifference, disillusionment or increased 'objectivity'. My conclusion is that Oriane is yet another sign of unreadability for Marcel. Like Albertine, she is always open to reinterpretation; Marcel can never make a definitive reading of her. Reading (a text or character) proves to be unreliable idiosyncratic, and interminable.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available