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This paper traces one of the origins of Marcel Proust’s artistic vocation in his fascination for a novel by George Sand, François le Champi (François the Waif). In Remembrance of Things Past, the adult writer explores the gradual recognition of this early phase of his formation: Sand’s novel appears in the ‘Combray’ section in Swann’s Way and it reappears at the moment of apparent illumination regarding his future as a writer in Time Regained. Leaving deliberately aside the psychoanalytic implications of the story, this article will instead emphasise the ‘vocality’ of the story, taken from the oral tradition of the provincial Berry countryside and imbued with colloquial texture, to show how the retelling of this moment in time when the novel was encountered includes a definition of what artistic vocation is for the narrator.
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