Proust vu d’Amérique!

June 25, 2013 | By French Culture

To celebrate the centennial of Swann’s Way, La Revue des Deux Mondes, the prestigious French publication founded in 1829, sheds light on a rarely explored topic: Proust and its American readers. In a June special issue entitled “Proust vu d’Amérique,” La Revue des Deux Mondes focuses on the apparent paradox of the very idea of “Proust in America”: how could the New World, a country “allergic to the past” as the poet Richard Howard puts it, have any interest in Proust’s work? In a culture where so much emphasis is put on action, why take the time to read such a lengthy book, one that is entirely based on introspection?

Featuring interviews with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, writer Daniel Mendelsohn, and New Yorker columnist Adam Gopnik, this special issue also includes a piece entitled “Marcel Proust, Du Côté Américain.” In this piece, Ioanna Kohler debunks a number of clichés by exploring the special relationship Americans have with Proust. While tackling the very beginning of this relationship –  which started as early as the 1920s thanks to Edith Wharton and Henry James in the literary world, and strengthened in the 1940-50s thanks to scholars such as Philip Kolb –  this piece focuses on how Proust is perceived in the U.S. today, and how lively his presence is in contemporary American culture, where he and his work are increasingly quoted, from the movie “Little Miss Sunshine” to windows at Bergdorf Goodman’s –  not to mention the recent manuscripts exhibition at the Morgan Library, organized by the French Cultural Services.

Based on numerous first-hand interviews, including those of Justice Breyer, Anka Muhlstein, Harold Augenbraum, André Aciman, Bill Carter, and Antoine Compagnon among others, this survey helps explain why Americans love Proust, how they read Proust, and what Proust represents in the American cultural landscape.

A must-read for Proustians around the world!

To download or order this special issue, please visit the Revue des Deux Mondes

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