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Title: Awkwardness in Marcel Proust's 'A la recherche du temps perdu'
Author: Richardson, Yasmine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 6908
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines awkwardness between characters in Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. It offers the first full-length study of awkwardness in literary fiction, and provides a new prism through which to analyse many major characters in Proust's novel, and, crucially, their interactions. While the word "awkwardness" poses translation challenges, the thesis identifies a rich lexicon of French terms used by Proust to denote various aspects of the phenomenon: through close analysis of passages containing these terms, a coherent vision of awkwardness and its importance in the novel emerges. Awkwardness occurs in very different types of relationship - family, social, friendship and love - because, Proust stresses, human interaction is rarely easy. This latter point is not a new argument, but by focusing directly on the feelings of awkwardness which arise, original insights can be made about the specific challenges of communication, cohesion and desire in the Recherche. The thesis explores the degrees of togetherness and separation Proust depicts, and compares well-known scenes and neglected moments to their mutual illumination. We find that awkwardness is essential to the novel's depiction of society in a state of rapid flux - the consequence of accelerated social change is escalated awkwardness - and that uncomfortable encounters with other people develop the protagonist's relation with his own mind.
Supervisor: Yee, Jennifer Sponsor: Merton Domus B Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Embarrassment in literature ; Interpersonal relations in literature ; French literature--20th century--History and criticism