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Proust, Class, and Nation$
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Edward J. Hughes

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609864

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609864.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 12 May 2021

Masters, Laws, and Servants

Masters, Laws, and Servants

(p.200) 6 Masters, Laws, and Servants
Proust, Class, and Nation

Edward J. Hughes

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by considering extracts from Proust’s correspondence with his broker before examining how the protagonist’s attempts to exercise his would-be sovereign will in Albertine disparue, often with the use of money, are ineffectual when faced with the workings of contingency. Proust’s Narrator cites numerous markers indicating high cultural and economic power and concludes implicitly that the display of ownership and dominance is incapable of reversing the loss of Albertine. The chapter further argues that delegation fails the novel’s bourgeois protagonist, the subaltern figures of Aimé and Françoise tasked with executing their master’s will acting in some degree independently. The tensions in class hierarchy thus become the conduit for an implied debate about social policing and the autonomy and rights of the subaltern. Centrally, the chapter argues, Albertine’s independence underlines her ability to resist a power that is gendered, class-specific, and metropolitan.

Keywords:   economic power, gender, autonomy, Otherness, subaltern, social policing, loss, role reversal

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