Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

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This study undertakes an examination of the doctors and illnesses in Marcel Proust’s life and of the doctors and illnesses in A La Recherche du Temps perdu. The first chapter reviews Prout’s relationship with doctors, especially with his father, who was a practicing physician. Illness, in addition to being an inconvenience, was for Proust a source of many important privileges, upon which he never ceased to draw. In this respect, the question is raised to what degree Proust’s illnesses were genuine. The doctors that appear in A La Recherche du Temps perdu comprise the next topic of discussion. An effort is made to determine whom Proust used as models for his doctors. Several illnesses that appear in A La Recherche du Temps perdu are also examined. They like the doctors in the novel, were drawn from Proust’s own experience. A parallel is found between the treatment of the main doctor (Dr. Cottard) in A la Recherche du Temps perdu and the treatment of the creative artist in Contre Sainte-Beuve which reinforces Proust’s presentation of the doctors in the novel and our own conclusions. This same comparison also provides an interesting commentary on Proust’s professional honesty. The very important relationship between Proust’s novel and his insistence on the need for suffering in order to create is also discussed. This study shows that Proust’s illnesses—real or feigned—influenced to a great extent the conception of A La Recherche du Temps perdu, as well as his treatment of doctors in that novel.

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Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Ernest Truett Book

Second Committee Member

William Frederick Jekel DeJongh

Third Committee Member

Julian Eugene White Jr.