Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Proust and Signs

The Complete Text

2003
Author:

Gilles Deleuze
Translated by Richard Howard

Proust and Signs

The essential work on Proust

In a remarkable instance of literary and philosophical interpretation, the incomparable Gilles Deleuze reads Proust’s work as a narrative of an apprenticeship of a man of letters. Deleuze traces the network of signs laid by Proust (those of love, art, or worldliness) and moves toward an aesthetics that culminates in a meditation on the literary work as a sign-producing “machine”—an operation that reveals the superiority of “signs of art” in a world of signs.

Deleuze conducts readers on a corollary search that leads to a new and deeper understanding of the network of signs laid down by Proust.

Translation Review

In a remarkable instance of literary and philosophical interpretation, the incomparable Gilles Deleuze reads Marcel Proust’s work as a narrative of an apprenticeship—more precisely, the apprenticeship of a man of letters. Considering the search to be one directed by an experience of signs, in which the protagonist learns to interpret and decode the kinds and types of symbols that surround him, Deleuze conducts us on a corollary search—one that leads to a new understanding of the signs that constitute A la recherche du temps perdu.

In Richard Howard’s graceful translation, augmented with an essay that Deleuze added to a later French edition, Proust and Signs is the complete English version of this work. Admired as an imaginative and innovative study of Proust and as one of Deleuze’s more accessible works, Proust and Signs stands as the writer’s most sustained attempt to understand and explain the work of art.

Proust and Signs

Gilles Deleuze (1925–1995) was professor of philosophy at the University of Paris, Vincennes–St. Denis. With Félix Guattari, he coauthored Anti-Oedipus (1983) and A Thousand Plateaus (1987). Among his other works are Cinema 1 (1986), Cinema 2 (1989), Foucault (1988), The Fold (1992), Essays Critical and Clinical (1997), and Francis Bacon (2003), all published by the University of Minnesota Press.

Richard Howard has received the American Book Award and the PEN Translation Medal. He teaches in the School of the Arts at Columbia University.

Proust and Signs

Deleuze conducts readers on a corollary search that leads to a new and deeper understanding of the network of signs laid down by Proust.

Translation Review

This isn’t a new book. The French original was published in 1964 and in English eight years later. But don’t dismiss it as out-of-date. Like the book it analyses, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, it pitches the reader into the future with a rare vigor. Deleuze’s book reveals the various ways Proust’s novel can help the reader with everyday life. Deleuze sees the presence of the novel as the thing itself; the essential achievement. Right from the start, Deleuze insists that the novel is not about memory, as is commonly assumed, but signs. It is Proust’s feat to reveal the process by which these signs work and how we might discern the truth of our lives from them.

Spike Magazine