Throughout the seven volumes of À La Recherche du Temps Perdu, Proust's narrator, Marcel, postpones the moment of writing. It is only at the very end of the last volume, with the discovery of Time (capital T), that the narrator finds himself ready to begin. What is “Time” and how is it a justification for literature in the Recherche? This question, which seems to be at the core of Proust's masterpiece, has been consistently neglected by theorists. To address it, I will propose that, in the context of Proust's novel, Time can be identified with a higher reality, which exceeds perception and can be captured through literature. It is because objects perceived only in the present have a temporal dimension that exceeds the present, that literature becomes a necessity for Marcel. Such an idea of Time can be associated with the pre-Einsteinian notion of a fourth dimension that became popular in Europe during the end of the nineteenth century. It also points to a broader connection between temporality and literature that extends beyond Proust's work and deserves further investigation.

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