Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Photography and the ‘Jeu des clefs’: À la recherche du temps perdu in the light of Paul Nadar's portraits

Yacavone, Kathrin


Kathrin Yacavone


The year 1978 saw the first exhibition of photographic portraits of Marcel Proust's family, friends and acquaintances taken by Paul Nadar, an event leading to renewed interest in the subject of À la recherche du temps perdu as a roman à clef. This article examines two interpretations of Proust's novel in the light of these images, as put forward by William Howard Adams and Roland Barthes. While Adams and Barthes both take George Painter's Proust biography as a starting point for their own readings of the photographs as ‘keys’ to the novel, they offer two contrasting perspectives on À la recherche: Adams emphasizes the transparent and positivistic connection between the author's life and work, whereas Barthes focuses on a more fluid, dialectical and productively ambiguous relation between the two. Both of these perspectives, but particularly Barthes's, it is argued, shed light on the novel's production and the broader, multi-faceted relations between photography, (auto)biography and literature.


Yacavone, K. (2012). Photography and the ‘Jeu des clefs’: À la recherche du temps perdu in the light of Paul Nadar's portraits. Nottingham French Studies, 51(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2012
Publication Date Oct 30, 2012
Deposit Date Mar 10, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 10, 2017
Journal Nottingham French Studies
Print ISSN 0029-4586
Electronic ISSN 2047-7236
Publisher Edinburgh University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Issue 3
Keywords Roland Barthes, biography, Paul Nadar, George Painter, Marcel Proust, photography, À la recherche du temps perdu, roman à clef
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This has been accepted for publication by Edinburgh University Press in Nottingham French Studies.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations