This essay takes the last pages of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time at its word: at the moment the narrator achieves a definitive conception of the work he intends to write, he sees society composed, not of people of flesh and blood, but of monsters fit for a museum of natural history. As the novel culminates in images and concepts that are essentially nonhuman, inhuman, or posthuman in character, it demonstrates an exacting knowledge of what the present is only now beginning to realize: after two world wars and humanity’s recent entry into what is called the age of the Anthropocene, certain fundamental relations (between subject and object, between nature and history, between past, present, and future) must be rethought to account for both the eclipse of the human as well as nature’s ultimate survival. This essay seeks to develop a philosophical form that would approximate the novel’s discovery of this posthuman natural history.

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