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Blum, H.P. (2012). The Creative Transformation of Trauma: Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. Psychoanal. Rev., 99(5):677-696.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Review, 99(5):677-696

The Creative Transformation of Trauma: Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time

Harold P. Blum, M.D.

Hidden childhood trauma beneath poignant memories is a central aspect of In Search of Lost Time. Marcel Proust's magnum opus may be psychoanalytically understood as an extraordinary literary transformation of severe trauma and associated unconscious conflicts. Proust's nearly fatal childhood asthma and concomitant medical mistreatment contributed to an intense ambivalent bond and bondage with his mother, replicated in the ambivalent relationships depicted in his novel. The retrieved and re-created past is relived in the novel's fantasy playground of time and space. Proust's intuitive grasp of significant aspects of time, memory, trauma, and transference was consistent with psychoanalytic thought. In the vast novel, the narcissistic mortification and losses of the protagonist are mourned, worked through, and partially redeemed. I interpret the famed joyous tasting of the madeleine in tea as an artfully disguised, temporally displaced, and affective reversal of life-threatening trauma. This article probes the role of Proust's intractable asthma in his breathless journey to ego mastery and timeless creativity.

In Search of Lost Time is the correct English title of Marcel Proust's (1871-1922) novel, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. This epic masterwork comprises seven interwoven volumes of some three thousand pages (Proust, 1993). It was originally translated from the French into English as Remembrance of Things Past, a title apparently chosen by the translator and English publisher of the work.

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