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Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time
Eric Karpeles
In Search of Lost Time
Marcel Proust, C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Andreas Mayor, Terence Kilmartin, D.J. Enright, Richard Howard
Within a Budding Grove (In Search of Lost Time, #2)
Marcel Proust, C.K. Scott Moncrieff, Terence Kilmartin, D.J. Enright

Autoportrait

Autoportrait - Édouard Levé, Lorin Stein Levé has a unique way of inviting his readers into his melancholy; reading this, I was reminded of Suicide and what I can only term—and this is a project on which I’m currently working as well—Levé’s performance of melancholy. While many people feel that depression, melancholy, and despair are highly individualized emotional states that the majority do not speak about, Levé channels some of the confessional school in his work (both photographic and literary) but suggests that he needs an interlocutor in order to fully feel his way through the anguish.Which is not to say that Autoportrait is a depressing read; like Suicide, it is full of a macabre humor and a very dry wit. I think it was wise on the part of Lorin Stein to render the title in the original French rather than as “self-portrait”: the quick, declarative sentences here are almost machine-like in their monotony at first. It is almost as if Levé is confessing mechanically and automatically rather than organically, but as the confessions continue we see some repetitions (we even see a few places where Levé contradicts himself while still insisting on speaking only the truth) and we acclimate ourselves to Levé’s confession. We get to know him inside and out through this short 120-page book, in fragments and at random. One comes away from Autoportrait feeling as though one has learned all there is to know about this man’s life, his thoughts, his views on art and his work, his obsessive meanderings about his body, his childhood memories, his sex live, his hatred for the color green in interior design, and a host of other desires, worries, joys, and regrets that make Levé who he is. It also makes one wonder, as a reader, what this strange yet intimate relationship is between Levé and his reader, what is this insistent need for company in the midst of chaos.