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Deveopment of the Artistic Self THE DEVELOPMENT OF T


The unorthodox nature of homosexuality undoubtedly affects the narrative environment of Proust and Gide. In a way that attains significance if one knows their personal histories, the literary egos of these two figures and what must be taken as their professional need to function effectively in a comfortable social, intellectual, and emotional universe, serve to insulate them from the preoccupation with homosexuality of their fictional alter egos. To be sure, The Immoralist and Remembrance of Things Past take as a fundament of their texts the connection between the emergence of individual identity, in private, and the identity that individuals project into the world. Yet both Gide and Proust make a fictional presentation of sexual identity that is an unreliable presentation of their own sexual fundament. They deal with homosexuality as an issue of character, but they do not unambiguously impose their personal sexual selves on their protagonists. Instead, they conceal beneath layers of character and incident what today would be called their sexual preferences, granting such preferences to secondary characters or to the environment in which their protagonists move. One has to wait for Genet for a modernist author's portrayal of a homosexual self as a direct analogue of personal existence, though as a playwright Genet is not confined by a narrative point of view. Instead he may present a whole range of "selves" as characters in the immediate environment of his fictional world. This, too, is a conceit of literary concealment.

An understanding of these authors' evident preoccupation with homosexuality on one hand and the deliberate concealment of it on the other is useful if one is to understand the depth and form of aesthetic commitment to the idea of elaborating the artist's self. Both Remembrance and The Immoralist are profoundly personal works, the former as an acknowledged autobiographical mod...

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