Proust e Vermeer. Elogio dell'imprecisione
Proust and Vermeer: In Praise
1999, pp. 128
Remembrance of Things Past contains a well-known passage
in which the elderly writer Bergotte visits a Dutch art exhibit
and, while examining a detail of Vermeer's "View of Delft",
falls ill and dies. That scene, that painting, that detail
have attracted the attention of a multitude of critics: Bergotte's
final thoughts before dying faithfully reflect Proust's idea
of art. But, in Vermeer's painting, what is the real meaning
of the "petit pan de mur jaune", the small piece
of wall of which Proust speaks? The philologist's passion
- or the puzzle-solver's, or the detective's - and perhaps
the obstinacy typical of all Proust scholars leads Lorenzo
Renzi to carefully examine every bit of evidence in Remembrance,
in Proust's life, and in Vermeer's art which might lead to
a constantly fleeting identification. But is it worth the
effort? Is this the duty of a critic? Once we identify the
wall, what will we have learned about Proust and his novel?
Renzi's book is an investigation, but at the same time a reflection
on the investigation itself, an ironic ship's log of a philologist
who is an enemy of excess and interpretative perseverance.
At the end of the quest we discover that Proust was imprecise
and that his imprecision cannot be addressed with the weapon
of precision: exactness and truth do not necessarily go together.
Romance Philology at the University of Padua.
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