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Languages of the NightMinor Languages and the Literary Imagination in Twentieth-Century Ireland and Europe$
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Barry McCrea

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300185157

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300185157.001.0001

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The Great Silence in Combray

The Great Silence in Combray

Proust and Patois

Chapter:
(p.121) four The Great Silence in Combray
Source:
Languages of the Night
Author(s):

Barry McCrea

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300185157.003.0004

This chapter shows how the disappearing dialects of the countryside of the French countryside shaped the modernist vision of Marcel Proust. In À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time), patois in the Recherche seems to the narrator to be one of the miraculous gateways to a reality immune to the ravages of time. In symbolic opposition to the modish and changeful speech of the bourgeoisie, the “feudal” dialect and accents of the peasantry and the aristocracy come to offer a challenge to the ideals of middle-class progress: development, cultivation, Bildung. In this way, patois represents a lyric alternative to the novel—a middle-class literary genre of narrative and change. In the end, however, patois proves to be subject to time and change too, and the symbolic alternative that dialect appears to offer is an imaginary, utopian longing.

Keywords:   Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu / In Search of Lost Time, Patois, French dialects, Aristocracy, Peasantry, Middle-class, Bourgeoisie, Bildung, The novel

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