Beyond the Epistemology of the Closet

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The model of secrecy and exposure set up in À la recherche du temps perdu (and later theorized by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick) has inflected ways of thinking about and breaking open the “closet” for non-normative sexualities since the publication of Sodome et Gomorrhe I in 1921. Nearly a century later, as archival documents from the turn of the century re-emerge from editorial or familial censorship, our critical methods for apprehending such queer texts need recalibration. If we have been anachronistically reading certain fin-de-siècle archives through a lens that was shaped by Proust’s novel and its twentieth-century reception, what might a different, more germane reading look like? I reflect on this question using a single letter written by Proust in 1905, unpublished and kept out of public view until 2019.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-192
JournalNineteenth-Century French Studies
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2020


  • Marcel Proust
  • Queer theory
  • Secrecy
  • Archives
  • Letters
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick


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