The Rediscovered Enunciator. Semiotic Notes on the Recherche
Marcel Proust has repeatedly stated that À la recherche du temps perdu is not an autobiography and that all its characters, including the Narrator, are products of invention. This article intends to address the issue from a semiotic point of view, excluding the empirical author from the methodological horizon and considering the relationship, entirely internal to the text, between the Enunciator, understood as the general strategy of composition of the work, and the Narrator, understood as a simulacrum of the Enunciator placed in the text as an intradiegetic actor and voice of the narration. There are innumerable textual constructions that produce an antinaturalistic effect: the variable and ambiguous organisation of the points of view; the extreme complexity of the temporal order; the Escherian structure of a novel about a literary training that reaches its starting point, in Le temps retrouvé, when the novel has actually already been written and read; the humorous effects, never assumed by the serious Narrator but always produced by the Enunciator who operates behind the scenes of the text, like an invisible puppeteer. This analysis as a whole aims to show how in this masterpiece banal autobiography gives way to the only truth that Proust recognises: that of the profound and unique life of every true artist, and of the hard intellectual and creative work that the latter must do to give expression to it.