Ideal Reader : Proust, Freud and the Reconstruction of European Culture
Literary criticism is often ephemeral; it has served its purpose if it stimulates discussion about the work of art under scrutiny. Not so with essays like these. They demand an active reading, as do the original works themselves. They do not easily yield their significance. Among the critics who came into the French literary scene in the years immediately preceding and following the First World War, Jacques Riviere has been least affected by the attrition of time. His studies of Proust and Rimbaud still rank among the two or three essential works to be read on these authors. Few other critics have gone further in a sensuous perception of these authors' work and the intellectual lucidity in analyzing it. Reviere had few pretensions to profundity and a great purity of style. In an age of slogans and judgments, this volume reminds the reader of the extraordinary role of European critical thought in the twentieth century.