History and Ideology in Proust

History and Ideology in Proust

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No major writer of the twentieth century seems a less likely candidate for Marxist analysis than Marcel Proust. A wealthy dilettante and notable fixture in the Parisian salons, Proust chronicled and anatomized the world of France’s upper classes, earning a reputation among both contemporaries and subsequent generations for aesthetic refinement and social snobbery.
Yet in a reconsideration of Proust’s masterpiece, A Ia recherche du temps perdu, Michael Sprinker reveals Proust to be an acute observer of the struggle between the bourgeoisie and aristocracy in the Third Republic. Drawing on historical scholarship on the Third Republic, Sprinker shows how Proust’s novel can extend our understanding of this period, particularly in areas less well mapped in standard historical studies such as nationalist ideology and gender roles.


  • [Sprinker] provides an interesting and very informative history of the first half-century of the Third French Republic, and in so doing he illuminates various aspects of the novel ... The results are frequently worth the effort.

  • History and Ideology in Proust is a fine book ... a work of Marxist criticism ... but a very subtle and sophisticated kind ... The merit of [Sprinker’s] book lies in its fidelity to Proust’s own writing.

    Christopher PrendergastTimes Literary Supplement