When Marcel Proust started to work on In Search of Lost Time in 1908, he wrote this question in his notebook: ‘Should I make it a novel, a philosophical study, am I a novelist?’ Throughout his famous multi-volume work, Proust directly engages several philosophers, and few novels are as thoroughly saturated with philosophical themes and concepts as In Search of Lost Time.

    The Proustian Mind is an outstanding reference source to the rich philosophical range of Proust’s work and the first major volume of its kind. Including 31 chapters by an international team of contributors, the volume is divided into seven clear parts:

    • Proust’s life and works
    • metaphysics and epistemology
    • mind and language
    • aesthetics
    • ethics
    • gender and sexuality
    • predecessors, contemporaries and successors.

    Within these sections, key Proustian themes are explored from a philosophical standpoint, including time, the self, memory, imagination, jealousy, beauty, love, subjectivity and desire. The final section considers Proust in relation to important philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, de Beauvoir and Deleuze.

    The Proustian Mind is essential reading for those studying aesthetics, philosophy of literature, phenomenology and ethics, and will also be of interest to those in literature studying modernism, French literature and the relationship between literature and philosophy.

    Introduction Anna Elsner and Thomas Stern

    Part 1: Life and Works

    1. Marcel Proust: A Student of Philosophy William Carter

    2. Proust’s Philosophical Training Luc Fraisse

    Part 2: Metaphysics & Epistemology

    3. The Mind in Time: Proust, Involuntary Memory, and the Adventure in Perception Garry L. Hagberg

    4. In Search of Lost Place Anna Elsner

    5. "Only Through Time Time is Conquered": Proust on Death Andrew Huddleston

    6. The Self Ben Colburn

    7. Knowledge Adam Watt

    8. The Pursuit of Uncertainty: Knowledge, Deferral and Self-Defeat in Proust Richard Moran

    Part 3: Mind and Language

    9. Memory Simon Kemp

    10. Proustian Habit Thomas Stern

    11. Subjectivity: A Proustian Problem Robert B. Pippin

    12. Speech Michael Lucey

    Part 4: Aesthetics

    13. Contemplating a Proustian Library Virginie Greene

    14. The experience of beauty in Proust – a Freudian account Julia Peters and Anna-Lisa Sander

    15. The Arts Jennifer Rushworth

    16. Art and the Life-World: The Duck, the Rabbit and the Madeleine Gary Kemp

    Part 5: Ethics

    17. Proust and the Philosophy of Love Martin Buijs

    18. Proust and Lying: Ethics and Aesthetics David Ellison

    19. "Each of us is indeed alone": Vulnerability in In Search of Lost Time Roos Slegers

    20. Proust’s Abraham, the Other L. Scott Lerner

    Part 6: Gender and Sexuality

    21. The Logic of Gomorrah: Proust and the Subversion of Identities Justine Balibar

    22. Proust on Desire Satisfaction Robbie Kubala

    23. Proustian Jealousy Elisabeth Ladenson

    Part 7: In conversation with predecessors, contemporaries and successors

    24. Proust and Romanticism Michael N. Forster

    25. Proust and Schopenhauer David Bather Woods

    26. Proust and Bergson: Fierce Criticality Suzanne Guerlac

    27. Proust and Nietzsche on Self-Fashioning: Towards a Post-Metaphysical Reading of Proust Antoine Panaioti

    28. The alter ego: Merleau-Ponty Anne Simon

    29. Proust the Phenomenologist: Sartre and Beauvoir as Readers of Proust Lior Levy

    30. Proust-Machine: Gilles Deleuze Thomas Baldwin and Patrick ffrench.

    31. Proust and Philosophical Influence Sebastian Gardner



    Anna Elsner is an Assistant Professor of French Literature and Culture at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. She is the co-editor of Anamnesia: Private and Public Memory in Modern French Culture (2009), Medicine and Literature (forthcoming), and the author of Mourning and Creativity in Proust (2017).

    Thomas Stern is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at University College London, UK. He is the author of Nietzsche’s Ethics (2020), and Philosophy and Theatre (Routledge, 2013), and the editor of The New Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche (2019), and The Philosophy of Theatre, Drama and Acting (2017).

    "...all of the sections feature countless insights as to Proust's relevance in various dimensions of philosophy..." -  Bryan Counter, Studies in the Novel