First Advisor

Carrie Collenberg-Gonzalez

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in World Languages & Literatures: French and University Honors


World Languages and Literatures


Marcel Proust (1871-1922). À la recherche du temps perdu -- Criticism and interpretation, Marcel Proust (1871-1922) -- Characters -- Gays -- In literature, Homosexuality and literature -- France -- In literature, Cruising (Sexual behavior) -- In literature




The composition of Marcel Proust’s, À la recherche du temps perdu, unfolded in a fin de siècle Paris rife with public sex, much of it between men. Queer desire and public space intersect repeatedly in the novel and, in light of the theorization of cruising during the last two decades, deserve special attention. While cruising may not be the key to understanding the Recherche, its entanglement with the novel’s more famous themes (time, memory, society, etc.) facilitates innovative readings and contributes to a growing conversation about the role of eroticism in Proust. With a minor passage in Sodom and Gomorrah concerning the duc de Châtellrault and the Guermantes’ usher as a touchstone, this reading explores the significance of cruising’s spatial liminality, offers the pantheistic spiritual world of the Recherche as an interpretive model for cruising, and interrogates the utopian potential of cross-class intimacy that public sex engenders. Ultimately Proustian homosexuality, and cruising in particular, entails an anonymous, impersonal sociability that runs counter to the novel’s generally pessimistic portrait of society. This kind of sociability troubles the ideology of public and private space that has come to define the modern city and encourages a rethinking of intimacy in an urban context.


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