Eugène Atget, Foire, 1923/ca 1950 © Jean Eugène Auguste Atget

In Search of Lost Time, 1913–2013

Symposium: Marcel Proust

6.12 2013 – 7.12 2013


The symposium commemorates the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s immense novel In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927). When, in 1913, the first volume Du côtéde chez Swann was published, the reception was favorable, although some critics objected at a certain wordiness. Proust emerged as a modern version of Montaigne. Yet it was only with the final volumes that critics began to realize just how brilliantly conceived the novel was.

Today In Search of Lost Time is generally thought of as a masterly achievement by one of the greatest writers to have emerged in the 20th century. The novel combines microscopic observations of individual psychology with sharp reflections on the fashionable; it casts a relentless eye on political, social, and sexual hierarchies; it traces the emergence of modern painting and the transformations of music; but fundamentally the work is a meditation on time, transience, and the capacity of art to transcend our captivity in the present. The symposium offers a variety of perspectives ranging from literary studies and philosophy to queer studies and sociology, bringing together scholars and writers from France, Germany, Britain, the US, and Sweden.

The symposium is open to all and free of charge.


Friday 6 December 2013

10-10.15 Welcome Address by Daniel Birnbaum
10.15-10.30 Introductory Remarks by the French ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Sara Danius, Anna Tellgren and Sven-Olov Wallenstein
10.30-11.30 Edward Hughes, “Characters and Their Word Compositions In Proust’s Recherche”
11.30-12.30 Lunch
12.30-13.30 Ursula Link Heer, “’Un poète persan dans une loge concierge’: Society, Irony, Pastiche”
13.30-14.30 Sven-Olov Wallenstein, “Time and Essence”
14.30-15 Coffee
15-16 Sigbrit Swahn, ”Proust versus Gide: Parallèles, controverses et partis pris autour de la critique des années trente” (Swedish translation will be available)
16-17 Keynote Speech: Antoine Compagnon, ”The Day Proust Realized He Had Written a Great Novel”

Saturday 7 December 2013

11:00-12:00 Sara Danius, “Black Socks, Green Threads: Proust, Charlus, and the Hermeneutics of Inversion”
12:00-13:00 Lunch
13:00-14:00 Miguel de Beistegui, ”Two Regimes of Desire in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time”
14:00-15:00 Elisabeth Ladenson, “A Taxonomy of Proustian Abjection: Jews, Snobs, and Inverts”
15:00-15:30 Coffee
15:30-16:30 Jochen Schmidt, “What’s So Funny About It? On Proust and the Art of Lost Praxis”
16:30-17:00 Music: Roland Pöntinen, pianist.


Antoine Compagnon, Professor of French Literature, Collège de France, Paris/Columbia University, New York

Antoine Compagnon is the Blanche W. Knopf Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, New York, and holds the Chair of Littérature française moderne et contemporaine at the Collège de France. Among his publications: Proust entre deux siècles (1989), Les Cinq Paradoxes de la modernité (1990), and Connaissez vous Brunetière? Enquête sur un antidreyfusard et ses amis (1997). His most recent book is the bestselling Un été avec Montaigne (2012).

Miguel de Beistegui, Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick

Miguel de Beistegui is professor of philosophy at the University of Warwick. His research interests include Heidegger, Deleuze, Greek tragedy, and foundational questions of aesthetics. Recent publications: Philosophy and Tragedy (ed. with Simon Sparks, 2000), Truth and Genesis: Philosophy as Differential Ontology (2004), Immanence and Philosophy: Deleuze (2010) and Proust as Philosopher: The Art of Metaphor (2012).

Sara Danius, Professor of Comparative Literature, Stockholm University

Sara Danius is professor of comparative literature at Stockholm University. Her research interests include nineteenth-century realism, aesthetic theory, and the relations of technology and perception in early literary modernism. She is the author of Den blå tvålen: Romanen och konsten att göra saker och ting synliga (2103), Näsa för nyheter: Essä om James Joyce (with Hanns Zischler, 2013), Proust-Benjamin: Om fotografin (2011), The Senses of Modernism: Technology, Perception, and Aesthetics (2002), and Prousts motor (2000).

Edward Hughes, Professor of French, Queen Mary/University of London

Edward Hughes is Professor of French at Queen Mary/University of London. His research deals with modern French literature and its socio-political contextualization, French-Algerian and Francophone Algerian literature. Among his publications: Proust, Class, and Nation (2011), The Cambridge Companion to Camus (2007), Writing Marginality in Modern French Literature: from Loti to Genet (2001), and Marcel Proust: A Study in the Quality of Awareness (1983).

Elisabeth Ladenson, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York

Elisabeth Ladenson is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, New York. She specializes in French nineteeenth- and twentieth-century literature. Her publications include Proust’s Lesbianism (1999) and Dirt for Art’s Sake: Books on Trial from Lolita to Madame Bovary (2007). At present she is at work on a book on Colette.

Ursula Link-Heer, Professor of Romance Languages, Bergische Universität, Wuppertal

Ursula Link Heer is professor of Romance Languages at Bergische Universität, Wuppertal. Among her specialties are the relations of literature and psychiatry in the modern period. Her publications on Proust include ”A la recherche du temps perdu” und die Form der Autobiographie (1988), Proust und die Philosophie (ed. with Volker Roloff, 1997), and Literarische Gendertheorie: Eros und Gesellschaft bei Proust und Colette (ed. with Ursula Hennigfeld och Fernand Hörner, 2007).

Jochen Schmidt, writer and journalist, Berlin

Jochen Schmidt is a writer and journalist based in Berlin. Among his later publications are Weltall. Erde. Mensch (2010), Schneckenmühle (2013), and Gebrauchsanweisung für Rumänien (2013). His Schmidt liest Proust (2008) was first published as a blog, in which he read and commented on Proust on a daily basis for two years. Part diary, part literary criticism, the book was widely acclaimed in Germany and turned into a bestseller.

Sigbrit Swahn, Professor emerita of French, Uppsala University

Sigbrit Swahn is professor emerita of French at Uppsala University. Her publications include Intellektuella i tid och otid: Med Marcel Proust och andra förgrundsgestalter i 1900-talets Frankrike (2012), Marcel Proust och vännerna (1996), Proust dans la recherche littéraire: Problèmes, méthodes, approches nouvelles (1979), and En väg till Proust (1978).

Sven-Olov Wallenstein, Professor of Philosophy, Södertörn University

Sven-Olov Wallenstein is professor of philosophy at Södertörn University. He specializes in the history of aesthetics as well as in modern architecture and the visual arts. Among his recent publications are Nihilism, Art, Technology (2011), Translating Hegel: The Phenomenology of Spirit and Modern Philosophy (ed. with Brian Manning Delaney, 2102), Foucault, Biopolitics, and Governmentality (ed. with Jakob Nilsson, 2013) and Heidegger, språket och poesin (ed. with Ola Nilsson, 2013).

Roland Pöntinen, pianist

Roland Pöntinen is pianist. Since his debut with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic in 1981, Roland Pöntinen has performed with major orchestras throughout the world. Highlights include performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Paris and London, Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Hollywood Bowl. He shares with Love Derwinger the responsibility of the Forum in Stockholm, wellknown for it’s events juxtaposing music with literature and art. The 2012-2013 season include solo recitals in London and New York as well as performances with L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Roland Pöntinen has made more than ninety recordings and is also active as a composer. He has also arranged music by Weill, Joni Mitchell and Legrand. Pöntinen is a member o the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and in 2001 he received the Litteris es Artibus – a royal medal for recognition of eminent skills in the artistic field.

Contact: Karin Malmquist, curator