“iProust and the iReader, or, The Wandering ‘I’”
“It’s pronounced ‘Prowst,’” proclaimed the biochemist with all the loftiness of his status as an advanced thésard. “Oh, no, I think it’s ‘Proost,’” responded his more humble but more literary interlocutor. Such a debate over Proust’s very name itself seems only emblematic of the vertiginous array of approaches applied to A la recherche du temps perdu in the century since his death in 1922, when, as Mallarmé wrote of Edgar Poe, “Tel qu’en Lui-même enfin l’éternité le change”. While eternity may have changed Proust the writer “into Himself,” his work, like his readers, is ever-evolving. What follows is an attempt to explore certain implications of the mushrooming array of technologies through which, as we observe and reflect upon the centenary of Proust’s death, we now access his work. How has the simple, physical act of reading his volumes changed over the last century, and what are the implications of our new reading habits for interpretation?