The opening pages of Proust's novel A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) features an extended meditation on the nature of subjective identity, in which the fixity and stability of the self is thrown into flux at the thresholds of wakefulness and of childhood. This meditation is famously thrown into relief through the instance of the magic lantern, which apparatus is introduced into the Narrator's childhood bedroom, throwing 'brilliant projections' upon its surfaces, and forever ruining the security of this habitual space. The narrative related by the slides of the magic lantern, in which 'Golo' kidnaps and aggresses Geneviève de Brabant, will be discussed in relation to the Oedipal crisis faced by the child-narrator, which irredeemably transforms his personality. This event will address, by means of a conversation between the three speakers, the issues of transformation and metamorphosis that Proust's novel brings to light, with specific attention to the magic lantern, its status as proto-typical cinematic apparatus, the phenomenon of projection and its implications for the nature of subjectivity.
Thomas Baldwin is Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Kent. He is the author of The Picture as Spectre in Diderot, Proust, and Deleuze (Legenda, 2010) and of The Material Object in the Work of Marcel Proust (Peter Lang, 2005), and of several chapters and articles on Proust and 20th-century French thought. He is currently working on a book on Roland Barthes and Proust.
Patrick ffrench is Professor of French and Head of the Department of French at King's College London. He is the author of The Time of Theory: A History of Tel Quel (Oxford, 1996), The Cut: Reading Georges Bataille's Histoire de l'oeil (Oxford/British Academy, 2000) and of After Bataille: Sacrifice, Exposure, Community (Legenda, 2007). He is currently working on a book on moving bodies in French literature, culture and thought from Baudelaire to Beckett.
Johanna Malt is Senior Lecturer in French at King's College London. She is the author of Obscure Objects of Desire : Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics (Oxford, 2004) and of several chapters and articles on Surrealism, visual theory and contemporary art. She is currently working on a book on contact images in 20th-century art and thought.
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Below you will find the text that will be discussed, in English and in French.
Proust's Magic Lantern English text
Proust Magic Lantern French text