Segments in this Video

Stumbling Upon Memory (03:00)


Marcel trips against cobblestones, which recalls for him a long-forgotten image. We often stumble upon successful paths after failing to find them deliberately, he concludes; the incident is a turning point in his life.

Memory and the Being Within (03:31)

Dropping his tea spoon brings Marcel's second intimation, enhanced when he wipes his mouth with a napkin. The aspect of his Venice experience that came to him was outside of time, unconnected with the things he'd tried to recall.

Goal of "A La Recherché" (00:59)

In "Remembrance of Things Past" or "In Search of Lost Time," a man tries to explain the relationship between our abstract notion of time and concrete perception of it. A collection of memories replaces traditional narrative.

Childhood Memory (02:54)

Proust's narrator's early memories are of family vacations; in one, he is anxious to kiss his mother goodnight, despite her thinking he is too old for this.

Mother's Kiss Goodnight (03:35)

Marcel hears his mother coming upstairs and experiences terror and joy and begs her to kiss him goodnight. His father tells her to stay with him for the night. Experts comment on the scene.

Nature of "A La Recherché" (02:57)

Proust expanded on "A la recherché" throughout his life. It explores the workings of the mind and is one of the most thorough books ever. It is a fictional autobiography; Cambray is based on Illiers.

Two Paths (01:12)

Two walks Marcel likes to take are symbolic. One flows through time and represents traditional French Christian values of Proust's father's family. The other represents art overcoming time- "Swann's way."

Appreciation of Nature (03:32)

A young Marcel tries to capture the beauty of flowers he sees on his walk, trying desperately to fully appreciate them. Experts comment on his attitude toward nature.

Misunderstanding Signals (02:11)

An expert talks about the need for art along with science. Art lover Swann influences young Marcel. Marcel becomes infatuated with Swann's daughter, but misunderstands her inviting signal as a rejection.

Sex (01:46)

Scenes illustrate Marcel's confused and frustrated sex life.

Art, Fragments and Eternity (03:07)

Marcel contemplates eternity through fragments of existence, withdrawn from time. Something in him is constant, though images change. Through art, he deciphers the truth these fragments hint at. Conscious observation fails at the task.

Unconscious Memory (02:03)

Translation of the title as "Remembrance of Things Past" suggests a conscious recollection, but for Proust unconscious memory is the key. Freud and other contemporaries shared similar concerns.

Purpose of Art (01:48)

For the scientist, the work of intelligence precedes the experiment, but for the writer, it follows the impression, Proust's character says. Artists reveal depths within us, not the superficial appearance of their objects.

Guermantes Way (02:08)

On his walks on the Guermantes Way, Marcel struggled with the question of what kind of writer he wanted to be; he had no answer. Because we relive the past without chronological sequence, different events seem part of different universes.

High Society (02:37)

Entering high society, Marcel felt liberated from his childhood life. He failed to take advantage; a friendship deprived him of solitude, so he spent "wasted years" before discovering his vocation.

Paris Life (02:16)

The Guermantes Way leads Marcel to waste time in Parisian café society. "A la recherché" portrays decadent high society. It portrays homosexual life, which Proust saw as prevalent.

Decadent Aristocracy (02:27)

After WWI, the decline of the aristocracy and rise of the Jewish bourgeoisie were complete. Proust criticizes high society in full decay.

Studying Character (01:41)

Marcel was uninterested in gossip, but the manner of telling stories revealed character. He went beneath the surface to find psychological laws; he justifies his approach to painting on similar grounds.

Impressions and Truth (01:43)

Marcel reflects on the impressions Albertine's piano playing made on him. Something we so strongly feel to be true must correspond to spiritual reality, he says, or life would be meaningless.

Albertine (01:35)

Though Marcel derived pleasure from Albertine, she was not for him a work of art, he concludes. His failed attempt to possess her completely is an important lesson for him in his art.

Marcel's Task (01:01)

The goal Marcel desired on the Guarmantes Way seemed impossible, but he concludes he must achieve it. Our greatest fears and hopes are not too much for us.

Gilberte's Daughter (03:42)

Marcel meets Gilberte for the first time in many years and at first takes her for her mother. She introduces him to her daughter, whom she thinks will satisfy his emotional needs; she reminds him of the young Gilberte.

Purpose of Literature (01:37)

Marcel realizes that his past life is the material for a work of literature. He had stored up memories without realizing their purpose. Readers of his book would read themselves.

Experts on "A la recherché" (02:25)

"A la recherché" greatly influenced subsequent French literature. It explains the meaning of art, which we seek out because it is necessary for us.

Intense Devotion to Task (01:41)

Marcel worries about whether there is enough time to complete his work. Proust became a recluse between WWI and his 1922 death, dedicating himself to the book.

Idea of Perfection (00:42)

All Marcel's desires, concentrated around a single dream, have as their first cause the idea of perfection.

Credits: Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past (01:02)

Credits: Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past

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Marcel Proust: Remembrance of Things Past

Part of the Series : Ten Great Writers of the Modern World
DVD Price: $99.95
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Withdrawing from the glittering high society he had so avidly courted, Marcel Proust spent the last decade of his life in virtual isolation, writing and revising Remembrance of Things Past. This program focuses on an intriguing dramatization of part seven of Proust’s magnum opus, in which narrator Marcel attends a reception for the new Princesse de Guermantes and discovers his life’s true vocation in the process. Professor Michel Butor, of Geneva University, and translator Terence Kilmartin add keen insights into the novel’s philosophical exploration of time, memory, and individual creativity. (60 minutes)

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL10038

ISBN: 978-0-7365-7803-5

Copyright date: ©1987

Closed Captioned

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