Proust's a la Recherche du Temps Perdu (MLF3073)

StaffProfessor Adam Watt - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module aims to

  • introduce students to a complex and highly influential work of literature
  • develop students’ understanding of the rich and wide-ranging thematic concerns of Proust’s novel
  • develop students’ sense of the formal characteristics of Proust’s writing and how these, mobilized in the exploration of his themes, give Proust a privileged place in literary history

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Discuss analytically the structure and development of Proust’s novel
  • 2. Demonstrate familiarity with the central thematic preoccupations of the novel and how these relate to its historical context
  • 3. Analyse, through close reading and commentary of the text in the TL, characteristic features of Proust’s writing
  • 4. Demonstrate an awareness of Proust’s narrative innovations
  • 5. Assess critically the sorts of philosophical-intellectual dilemmas explored by Proust’s narrator

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Analyse and account for salient features of the set texts
  • 7. Mount a detailed argument in the appropriate register of English, mustering a range of textual evidence in its support, presented in appropriate academic form.
  • 8. Following guidance, locate, identify and utilise library and electronic resources on a given topic.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Undertake defined learning activities with a measure of autonomy, asking for guidance where necessary.
  • 10. Adopt a critical approach to the selection and organisation of material in order to produce, to a deadline, a competently produced written or oral argument.
  • 11. Present a cogent and sustained argument orally and/or in writing, in English, on a topic chosen from a range of options provided, following broad guidelines but selecting and adapting them as required.

Syllabus plan

Proust wrote the opening and ending of his novel (‘Combray’ and Le Temps retrouvé) first, before developing what came to be five intervening volumes. You will study ‘Combray’, then La Prisonnière (the fifth volume) and finally the second part of Le Temps retrouvé. Lectures will cover all seven volumes of A la recherche; in seminars we will discuss chosen passages from the set texts as well as excerpts from the other volumes, attending to Proust’s verbal art, the narrative
techniques that give shape to his writing. Thematically, we will focus on time and memory; Proustian conceptions of love and loss; desire and jealousy; and mortality and the power of art.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities5Lectures
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities10Seminars
Scheduled Learning & Teaching activities1Small group tutorials.
Guided independent study134Materials and indications of further reading, links to web resources, etc posted on ELE.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short commentary or essay1000 wordsAllWritten/oral to group.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Long Essay1003,000 wordsAllCoversheet

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssayAllRef./def. period.

Re-assessment notes

The essay will be marked and feedback provided.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Proust, Marcel ‘Combray’ in Du côté de chez Swann (1913)

____________, La Prisonnière (1923)

____________, Le Temps retrouvé (1927) (From ‘La nouvelle maison de santé…’).

You should buy these three volumes – there are many cheap paperback editions (‘Folio’ Gallimard, ‘Collection Blanche’ Gallimard or Garnier Flammarion are recommended). The full text of the Recherche is also very cheaply available for kindle/i-pad/e-reader.

Students can buy the whole of A la recherche in one single volume, published in the Gallimard ‘Quarto’ series (ed. by Jean-Yves Tadié, 1999, ISBN: 978-2070754922)


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Bales, Richard, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Marcel Proust (Cambridge University Press, 2001) – available electronically via the library website.

Podcasts on Proust and his work:

BBC ‘In our time’ programme on Proust with Malcolm Bowie, Jacqueline Rose and Robert Fraser:

Antoine Compagnon’s Collège de France seminars and lectures on Proust (in French):

Multiple book chapters are available electronically via the ELE page.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Bales, Richard, Proust. A la recherche du temps perdu (London: Grant & Cutler, 1995)

Beckett, Samuel, Proust (London: John Calder, 1987 [1931])

Bowie, Malcolm, Proust Among the Stars (London: HarperCollins, 1998)

Cocking, J.M., Proust (London: Bowes and Bowes, 1956)

Ellison, David, A Reader’s Guide to Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Gray, Margaret E., ‘Proust, narrative and ambivalence in contemporary culture’ in Postmodern Proust (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992).

Kern, Stephen, The Culture of Time and Space:1880-1918 (Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press, 2003 [1983])

May, Derwent, Proust (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983)

Watt, Adam, The Cambridge Introduction to Marcel Proust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

__________, Marcel Proust ‘Critical Lives’ (London: Reaktion, 2013)

__________, ed., Marcel Proust in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Marcel Proust – A la recherche du temps perdu – narrative fiction