The work of Marcel Proust was an abiding concern for Eve Sedgwick throughout her writing career, shaping her understanding of what it means to be a writer and to have a career. Proust modeled for her a remarkable queer intelligence for reading, re-imagining, and writing about one’s life and world with wit, style, and an almost prehensile precision. “With Proust and my word processor in front of me,” she wrote in 1990, “what I feel most are Talmudic desires, to reproduce or unfold the text and to giggle.” This panel will focus on two essays from two different moments in Sedgwick’s life of reading and writing about Proust: “Proust and the Spectacle of the Closet,” the concluding chapter of Epistemology of the Closet (1990), and “The Weather in Proust” an unpublished talk written around 2005. While both texts beautifully evoke the pleasures of Proust, “Spectacle” is tightly focused on the epistemological consequences of the homo/hetero divide while “The Weather” flings open the binary to let in hundreds of “little gods,” along with a lot of fresh air. In some ways, these two essays exemplify the “paranoid” and “reparative” styles discussed in the previous panel. For readers raised on paranoid queer theory in the 90s, the experience of reading “The Weather in Proust” can be like how Proust’s asthmatic narrator described his feeling when his grandmother walked into his room: “Then my grandmother came in, and to the expansion of my constricted heart there opened at once an infinity of space.”
Jonathan Goldberg will also report on some pending posthumous publications by Eve, many of them about Proust.
Watch the video here:
Leland Monk (moderator)
Texts: “Proust and the Spectacle of the Closet” In The Epistemology of the Closet, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. 213-51.
and “The Weather in Proust” (unpublished talk)