Childhood as Memory, Myth and Metaphor
Proust, Beckett, and Bourgeois
Legenda: Oxford, 2013
A fascination with childhood unites the artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) and the writers Samuel Beckett (1906-89) and Marcel Proust (1871-1922). But while many commentators have traced their childhood images back to memories of lived experiences, there is more to their mythologies of childhood that waits to be explored. They invite us to move away from familiar ideas — whether psychological or biographical — about what a child can represent, and even what a child is. The haunting child figures of Bourgeois, Beckett and Proust echo each other as they show how imagining origins — for a life, for a work of art — involves paradoxes that test the limits of our forms of expression. Art meets literature, profusion meets concision, French meets English, and images of childhood reveal new insights in this encounter between three great figures of twentieth- and twenty-first-century culture.
Catherine Crimp holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and is currently Lectrice d’anglais at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon.