Ironic Immunity: Proust’s Sustainable Extinction


This article argues for the importance of irony in Anthropocene discourse. It reads Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu as portraying an “immunitary paradigm” that is grounds for human extinction, exemplified by modern “sustainability” strategies that seek to sustain private property and unequal distribution. In his novel, Proust depicts an “immune” class of hyper-privileged elites, and I suggest that, by reading the irony on which Proust bases their existence, we can rethink cultures founded on extractive appropriation. Irony is, then, the improper reading of other voices—those kept silent by a prospective extinction not written in their name.

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