Artists in Evil: An Essay on Evil and Redemption in Marcel Proust's IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME
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Two lesbian lovers, Mlle Vinteuil and her friend, cavort amorously and disrespectfully, in ritualized acts of profanation, before the photograph of the recently deceased M. Vinteuil. The young Marcel spies upon this scene. He recalls it on several occasions throughout the novel, and he reports the ritual’s ultimate abandonment. The memory of the scene is always, as it were, in the back of his mind ready to leap forward.
Artists in Evil joins Marcel in focusing upon this scene and what it reveals about Marcel’s conceptions of sadism, cruelty, evil and morality generally. The approach is philosophical, depth-psychological and literary. The author argues for the centrality of Mlle Vinteuil to one of the novel’s core themes—redeeming lost time. He claims that her way is Marcel’s way. Marcel’s conduct, his being, and the trajectory of his life, his ultimate triumph, mirrors hers.