Role of memory and the art of life-writing in Alice Munro and Marcel Proust
The present study seeks points of contact between the works of Alice Munro and Marcel Proust beyond the chronological, geographical and cultural distances that separate the two authors, arguing that they similarly regard the role of memory in creativity and the relationship between art and life. In the construction of their fictional universe both Munro and Proust uncover the inconsistencies of the act of remembering, a cognitive operation of selection and interpretation which follows the laws of narrative. Focusing on extracts from À la recherche du temps perdu by Proust and on the short stories ‘The Peace of Utrecht,’ ‘Princess Ida’ and ‘The Ottawa Valley’ by Munro this study aims to demonstrate that the investigation of memory reveals that the past is a subjective rather than objective category of experience. A survey of the definitions of the genre of autobiography situates the kind of writing of the self which is peculiar to Munro and Proust. Both authors do not disregard the richness of their lives but instead find inspiration in their autobiographical experience, creating works of fiction that challenge the boundaries between history and story-telling, truth and imagination. Considering Munro’s autobiographical novel, The View from Castle Rock, and Proust’s Search this study seeks to bring to light the connections between the authors’ poetic that are grounded in the intersection between art and life. Munro and Proust’s vision converge in suggesting that man constantly shapes his life into narratives; looking backward therefore implies a recognition of the fluctuation of the sense of identity. The significance of art lies not in grasping reality, which is subjective and transformative, but in escaping subjectivity through art, thus transcending the individual to reach the universal, where the connection with the audience is possible.