Author(s): Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
The Weather in Proust gathers pieces written by the eminent critic and theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in the last decade of her life, as she worked toward a book on Proust. This book takes its title from the first essay, a startlingly original interpretation of Proust. By way of Neo-platonism, Buddhism, and the work of Melanie Klein, Sedgwick establishes the sense of refreshment and surprise that the author of the Recherche affords his readers. Proust also figures in pieces on the poetry of C. P. Cavafy, object relations, affect theory, and Sedgwick's textile art practices. More explicitly connected to her role as a pioneering queer theorist are an exuberant attack against reactionary refusals of the work of Guy Hocquenghem and talks in which she lays out her central ideas about sexuality and her concerns about the direction of US queer theory. Sedgwick lived for more than a dozen years with a diagnosis of terminal cancer; its implications informed her later writing and thinking, as well as her spiritual and artistic practices. In the book's final and most personal essay, she reflects on the realization of her impending death.
Featuring thirty-seven colour images of her art, The Weather in Proust offers a comprehensive view of Sedgwick's later work, underscoring its diversity and coherence.
"...nine solid, finished-feeling essays on topics that preoccupied Sedgwick throughout her prolific career. These topics - which include webs of relation in Proust, affect theory, non-Oedipal models of psychology (especially those offered by Melanie Klein, Sandor Ferenczi, Michael Balint, Silvan Tomkins, and Buddhism), non-dualistic thinking and antiseparatisms of all kinds, and itinerant, idiosyncratic, profound meditations on depression, illness, textiles, queerness, and mortality - will be familiar to anyone who has spent time with Sedgwick's previous work, which includes the groundbreaking Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (1985), Epistemology of the Closet (1990), Tendencies (1993), and Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (2003)." Maggie Nelson, Los Angeles Review of Books "This selection of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's unpublished papers and talks covers a wide range, from lively fragments of a projected book on Proust, to Cavafy, psychoanalysis and Buddhism. They illuminate Sedgwick's attempt to establish an epistemology of the individual subject... Sedgwick had a ludic mind which engages the reader, even when one finds that her concepts are not those one would have used oneself. In the papers dealing with feminist and gay theory, her project is, it seems, to show the limits of psychoanalysis in describing the individual, for all theory must respect the basic axiom that every human being is different from everyone else." - Allen Thiher, Times Literary Supplement, September 21st 2012 "The Weather in Proust is not just a random final collection of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's essays. It is a frank and flowing analysis of the conflict of pleasure and destruction that shapes our attachment to life; it is an account of the deities that artists invent to embody these dramatic life forces; and, perhaps above all, it is what she calls a 'fantasy book,' a stimulus to follow out affect beyond the conventions of thought. Like the artists and psychoanalysts whom Sedgwick seeks out, this work provides a 'calm voice, so contagious and easy to internalize' that 'a new mental faculty' emerges: through crystalline prose, clear-sighted formulations, and an unsurpassed aesthetic patience, Sedgwick's engagement with sexuality, politics, and reading closely constitutes a sublime teaching." Lauren Berlant, author of Cruel Optimism "With breathtaking range and brilliance, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick once again, and in myriad ways, reminds us of the complex relationality of affective life. These extraordinary essays give life to her claim that something about queer is inextinguishable." Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor, University of California, Berkeley "The Weather in Proust is a collection of nine essays, five of which were intended to become part of a book on Proust and an additional four that encompass Sedgwick's three decades of queer scholarship. The book is a meeting of the old and the new, both a retrospective on this founding mother of queer theory and a glimpse into what occupied her mind in the final years of her life. In Proust, Sedgwick finds a kindred spirit. Both writers are notorious for their excruciatingly detailed and nuanced literary dissections of the hidden crevasses of human desire and esoteric references to spirituality, philosophy, and classics... Great authors live as long as their ideas remain relevant to the present world, and given the current political and cultural landscape, Sedgwick's philosophies make her as alive as she has ever been." Chase Dimock, Lambda Literary Review, April 15th 2012
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950-2009) was Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of "Epistemology of the Closet," "Between Men," and "A Dialogue on Love." Her books "Touching Feeling"; "Tendencies"; "Fat Art, Thin Art"; "Novel Gazing"; "Gary in Your Pocket"; and "Shame and Its Sisters" (co-edited with Adam Frank), are all also published by Duke University Press.Jonathan Goldberg is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English and Director of the Studies in Sexualities Program at Emory University. He is the author, most recently, of "The Seeds of Things."