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Title: The human landscape in Proust : a study in flower symbolism
Author: MacKenzie, Susan Jane
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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This thesis seeks to prove the existence of a well-planned, pattern of images and symbols in Proust's work, a pattern denied him by many critics. The images which concern us the most are the flower images through which we can analyse Proust's "human landscape". That is, Proust expressed his main theme, built up a symbolic code of colours, described his important characters, and contrasted Society and Nature - Paris salons and Combray countryside - through his flower imagery. The main theme which this thesis follows most closely is that of the apprenticeship of the young artist, who must be tested by suffering, symbolized by the storm motif which is associated with many flowers. Proust's important colours, in brief, are the white of innocence, ignorance, or denial of suffering; the red of experience or passion, in all senses of the word; and the mauve or black of dangerous love, especially homosexuality or lesbianism. The main characters we will trace through various flower symbols are Marcel himself, Gilberte, the Duchess of Guermantes, Odette, Swann, Aunt Léonie, Charlus, and, perhaps most important of all, Albertine. The hawthorns, the apple blossom, the pear blossom, the red and violet flowers of the Guermantes' estate, the lilacs, the dried limetree blossoms, the water-lilies, the cattleya, the orchid and the pine tree, the rose and the forget-me-not all deserve and obtain a chapter each. Another chapter discusses the grand panorama of the seasons, which Proust expressed in vast human landscapes found in Odette's winter garden salon, the Bois de Boulogne, and the winter forest of aged friends which confronts Marcel at the final reception at the Guermantes. In this study of the seasons, social and natural, we find Proust, through Marcel emphasizing the sterility of denying the processes of change in this world and the creativity of accepting Time and incorporating it into a work of art. Since Proust did, in fact, plan his novel extremely carefully, an analysis of his conclusions forms the conclusion of this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available