The Seminar

The Project team and guest speakers held a seminar in St John’s College on 5 May 2017.

The speakers were Madeleine Chalmers (University of Cambridge), Igor Reyner (King’s College London), and Arthur Morisseau (Université de Tours).


Madeleine Chalmers, Translating Proust’s imaginary sonata: exposition, development, recapitulation
Proust’s works are notoriously difficult to translate into English, a problem compounded when working with Proust’s own ‘translations’ of imaginary music into language. This paper will draw on the construction of the classical sonata to consider how this project weaves together and harmonies the voices of multiple translators, and to ask how translation can help us to think about the relationship between music and language.

Igor Reyner, What do we mean by ‘music’ in Proust?
Is there a unifying notion of music in Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu? What is it that connects every musical episode in the novel? Despite the narrator’s eloquent theories of music and listening – routinely cited by Proust’s critics –, scant attention has been paid to the specificities of the narrator’s practice of listening. Proust’s narrator memorably describes specific pieces of music, such as Vinteuil’s Sonata and Septet, and writes about music as a philosophical category; it is these two aspects of music in the novel that have thus far interested critics and theorists. Yet another way to approach the question of music in the novel involves focusing on the act of listening. In this talk, I explore how the narrator’s experience of music emerges less through his theoretical pronouncements on the subject and more as a symptom in his writing. It is precisely this powerful but latent account of listening that has evaded critics in their studies of music in A la recherche. Proustian listening, as well as the radical idea of musical experience that it gives literary voice to, mobilises both the shifting and contradictory discourses around music in the period when Proust was writing, and amplifies a mode of listening that bears on the theories of figures as varied as Schönberg, Stravinsky, Adorno, Boulez, Schaeffer, and others.

Arthur Morisseau, Devenir Vinteuil
Vinteuil, compositeur fictif d’À la Recherche du temps perdu, compose, entre autres, une sonate et un septuor, créant sous la plume de Marcel Proust les plus fabuleux « imaginary concerts » (Alex Ross) de la littérature. Véritables appels à la création, ils invitent à diverses réflexions sur la littérature et la musique. Peut-on devenir un Vinteuil plus authentique que l’original ? Comment composer à partir du texte de Proust ?

mestrado-do-igor-21Igor Reyner is a final-year PhD student in the Department of French at King’s College London under the supervision of Professor Patrick ffrench and Dr Johanna Malt. His current research project, Listening in Proust, investigates how sound descriptions, metaphors, and listening practices circulate within an economy of the aural in Marcel Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu. By addressing the question of the Proustian vocabulary and the multifarious associations between sonic and non-sonic elements in the Recherche, this study accounts for how listening is mobilised by an audile narrator; that is, by a narrator ‘whose mental imagery or learning process is thought chiefly to involve the sense of hearing’ (OED).

After completing a B.A. degree in Music with an emphasis on piano performance, he was awarded an M.A. degree in Music with an emphasis on Sound Studies. His master’s thesis outlines the role played by listening in Pierre Schaeffer’s works between 1938 and 1966 interpreting excerpts from Le Côté de Guermantes with reference to Schaeffer’s notions of quatre fonctions de l’écoute, of comportement d’écoute and of écoute réduite.
He collaborates with the ARIAS (CNRS/ENS/Paris3) research project ‘Transculturalités des arts. Mots et concepts. Glossaires multilingues et interdisciplinaires’ as well as with the Federal University of Minas Gerais research group ‘Music, Technology and Society’, in addition to writing programme notes for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Minas Gerais. Igor Reyner is currently the recipient of a CAPES Foundation (Ministry of Education of Brazil) Ph.D. scholarship.

morriseauArthur Morisseau teaches literature at collège Marcel Proust in Illiers-Combray and at lycée Fulbert in Chartres. A PhD student at the University of La Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris, France), he is interested in making connections between literature and music and is writing a thesis in literature and musicology under the supervision of Cécile Leblanc (Paris3) and Vincent Cotro (Tours) on the character of Vinteuil. Recently, he published ‘L’après-Vinteuil : la partition littéraire proustienne vue par les compositeurs Jorge Arriagada et Hans Werner Henze’ (Quaderni proustiani, 2015), ‘Forme brève et musique chez Marcel Proust : Les Plaisirs et les Jours donnent le la‘ (Presses Universitaires François-Rabelais, 2017) and gave a paper about Vinteuil’s ‘petite phrase’ at the colloquium ‘Proust et la musique’ at the Singer-Polignac foundation (Paris, 2016).