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Philosophy As FictionSelf, Deception, and Knowledge in Proust$
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Joshua Landy

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195169393

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195169393.001.0001

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Style (Proust's Sentences)

Style (Proust's Sentences)

(p.129) CODA Style (Proust's Sentences)
Philosophy As Fiction

Joshua Landy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the connections between Proust's philosophy, and his and his narrator's literary style. On the one hand, a set of stylistic features correspond neatly to the theory of self described in Chapter 3: the inconsistencies of the novel's chronology mirror the imperfections of memory; the shifts in tone translate the self's constant fluctuations; the multiple narratorial voices reproduce the disjointed nature of consciousness; and the syntax of the famously convoluted and multilayered sentences — which often seem to grow from the middle, constantly allowing for revision and reconsideration — imitates the process by which we attempt to shape the total self. On the other hand, and more importantly, Proust's style does something else: by encouraging us to hold a great deal of information in our head at once, to retrace our steps, and to doubt what we simultaneously believe, it offers the opportunity for a kind of training that may ultimately allow us to construct our own total selves, transforming our disorderly lives into works of art.

Keywords:   self-fashioning, chronology, memory, tone, narrator, training, sentence structure, life as literature, spiritual exercise

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