in the Age of Media, Computers, and Internet
READING PROUST'S 'RACHEL WHEN FROM THE LORD': INTERPRETATION OF THE WHOLLY OTHER
Wolfgang Iser's forthcoming "The Range of Interpretation" brilliantly and daringly explores the liminal space between the interpretation and what is interpreted. That space, in Iser's view, becomes a whirling vortex with a life of its own. For Iser, interpretation is always "translation," that is, a transposition, never wholly successful or seamless, of what is interpreted into another register for a specific use and according to specific protocols of meaning ascription that change through time and from one interpreting community to another. Especially interesting is what Iser has to say, apropos of Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption, about the "traveling differential" as a way of translating the "immeasurable" into knowledge and therefore into a kind of measurement. For Marcel Proust or for "Marcel," the first-person narrator/protagonist of A la recerche du temps prerdu, the other person, for example Marcel's beloved Albertine, is an embodiment of the "immeasurable." The problems of interpreting or "translating" the immeasurable other are dramatized in a brilliant episode involving Marcel's encounter with his friend Robert de Saint-Loup's mistress, Rachel. Marcel had first met Rachel as a prostitute and had called her "Rachel When From the Lord" (an allusion to Halévy's opera La Juive). The passage is also full of Biblical allusions (both to the Old and New Testaments). These allusions are dramatic examples of the appropriation of traditional texts into a different register for a specific use. In the end Rachel herself is seen as a text or set of signs open to various interpretations, by Marcel, by Robert de Saint-Loup, by the reader, none ultimately verifiable as what Rachel "really is." since that remains forever secret. The episodeexemplifies in a spectacular way the perplexities of the act of reading and the difficulties of "reading reading."