In Search of Lost Time
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past (fr. À la recherche du temps perdu) is a semi-autobiographical novel in seven volumes by Marcel Proust. His most prominent work, it is popularly known for its extended length and the notion of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the "episode of the madeleine". The title In Search of Lost Time has gained in popularity since the publication of a new translation by that name in the 1990s, but it is also widely referred to by its original English title Remembrance of Things Past.
Published in France between 1913 and 1927, many of the novel's ideas, motifs, and scenes appear in adumbrated form in Proust's unfinished novel, Jean Santeuil (1896–99), and in his unfinished hybrid of philosophical essay and story, Contre Sainte-Beuve (1908–09).
At the risk of over-simplification, In Search of Lost Time can be viewed as a vast bildungsroman in which the neurasthenic narrator discovers that he is a writer after a lifetime spent distracted by society and love. It is also a meditation on time, memory and the superiority of art in recapturing past experiences.