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“in that black or luminous square”: Windows as Sites of Imagination in the Writings of Proust and Beckett

Ahmed, Saba; (2015) “in that black or luminous square”: Windows as Sites of Imagination in the Writings of Proust and Beckett. Tropos , 2 (1) pp. 5-13. 10.14324/111.2057-2212.001. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper looks at Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu andBeckett’s Malone Dies, investigating the figure of the diseasedwriter persona, confined and localised within the bed space,who gazes out the window as a way of telling stories. Looking at Walter Benjamin’s essay on Proust and life-writing, I examine representations of windows in Proust’s novel as a way of framing the distance and proximity between fact and fiction, self (who narrates) and other (who is narrated). Beckett’s narrator, on the other hand, unearths the anxiety of death implicit in Proust’s project of life-writing, threatening to silence speech and leave the author’s work incomplete. Here, windows are markers of blockage, calling to mind Lacan’s conception of the mirror stage, whereby Malone regresses and submits to a claustrophobic, bed-ridden existence, aligned by his narcissism. I argue, then, that both writers distend the narrative form of the novel, but whereas Proust’s narrator-I sees writing as a way of recovering life, Beckett’s post-modern narrative is haunted by an urgency to encode absence, negation and death.

Type: Article
Title: “in that black or luminous square”: Windows as Sites of Imagination in the Writings of Proust and Beckett
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.001
Publisher version: http://ojs.lib.ucl.ac.uk/index.php/tps
Language: English
Additional information: © Broome, AH; Nabugodi, M; Sreenan, N; Harvey, L; (2014). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Literature, narrator, Marcel Proust, Samuel Beckett
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469467
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