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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: 26 October 2021

Claims and Complaints

Claims and Complaints

(p.239) 8 Claims and Complaints
Proust, Class, and Nation

Edward J. Hughes

Oxford University Press

The chapter begins by exploring how Proust’s contemporary Julien Benda identified the intensification of political attitudes towards class and nation as forming the regrettable hallmark of the age. Significantly, Benda was quick to flag Proust’s uneasiness about partisanship and was scathing about those contemporaries who fuelled class warfare or aggressive nationalism. The chapter reflects on Benda’s characterization of Proust as a writer who dissociated himself from what, Benda complained, was the alarming emergence of intolerant, mass-group identities. The chapter goes to draw out the ways in which Proust’s novel, constructed over a period of almost fifteen years, bears the compositional traces of an often ironic engagement with the social dialectic in a period of major social change (the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie, loss of social position for the aristocracy, the signs of working-class assertiveness).

Keywords:   Benda, the intellectual, history, textual composition, genetic criticism, group identities

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