Proust and Schopenhauer

In Anna Elsner & Thomas Stern (eds.), The Proustian Mind. New York, NY: Routledge (2022)
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This chapter is divided into three sections. In the first, I identify the mentions of Schopenhauer in À la recherche du temps perdu. I use an implicit reference to Schopenhauer by Swann to open a discussion of Schopenhauer’s theory of music. I attempt to downplay its identification, suggested by some commentators, with both the views about music expressed in the novel and the form of the novel itself. In the second section, I discuss Proust’s references to Schopenhauer in his essay on reading. I confirm that Proust well understood Schopenhauer’s relationship with his own erudition and suggest that Schopenhauer’s influence on Proust may take the form of an incitement to think for oneself. In the third and final section, I consider several potential points of convergence between Proust and Schopenhauer concerning states of the will. However, in all cases I find, as I do throughout the chapter, that below the surface Proust and Schopenhauer often part ways.

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David Bather Woods
University of Warwick


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