Proust’s place in literature is analogous to Manet’s in painting: was he the last of the great classics or the first of the revolutionaries? Manet’s work is linked to the art of the past through its sources and often through the subjects it treats, but it looks ahead to the most radical innovations of Monet and the impressionists, although Manet still resisted having his works exhibited alongside theirs in the Salons des Refusés. In fact Manet maintained to the last an ambiguous attitude toward official art and “academicism,” even though he was rebuffed by the public and the press at the different salons that took place over the years. In Proust, as in Manet, continuity and discontinuity, tradition and revolution, make for a strange, unstable mixture in which meaningfulness and the purely “pictorial,” the novelistic and the impressionistic, realism and blurred vision coexist.
Proust entre deux siècles 1989 by Antoine Compagnon; translated as Proust Between Two Centuries 1991 by Richard E. Goodkin, p. 20.