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4) [In Search of Lost Time #3] The Guermantes Way, by Marcel Proust

I don't think I will manage to finish all seven volumes of Proust this year, but I'm not doing badly. This took me several weeks of dipping in and out of it while reading other books, which I'm coming to realise may be the way to approach Proust. I have to say it is my favourite of the three volumes I have read so far. I felt that the descriptive passages near the beginning were, once again, beautiful reflections on memory and on how we see and remember other people, and felt almost a bit resentful when elements of actual plot began to intrude on the writing. But in fact, there isn't a lot of plot, and what there is more or less frames two big set-piece social events organised by the Guermantes family, which together take up 250 of the 600 pages.

I felt I could relate to the structure of the book a lot better than the previous volumes, though again perhaps this is just me getting used to it; I found it much easier to sort out the characters in my mind and to be interested in them. The translation is very good too - especially dealing with the excruciating puns perpetrated by some of Proust's characters, with discreet footnotes explaining them and subtly leaving you with the impression that, like Proust's narrator, the translator (Mark Treharne) didn't really think they were very funny.

Anyway, will keep it up. Bits of this will linger with me for a good while - not so much the two big set-pieces, but the disastrous lunch with Rachel, the grandmother's death, the psychopathic M. de Charlus, the seduction of Albertine, the narrator's unspoken love for Robert de Saint-Loup.

(Another Proust site here.)

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
webcowgirl
Sep. 12th, 2007 08:43 am (UTC)
You're reading the Treharne translation, too?
The one thing I have not enjoyed about this volume is the, what was it, ten pages on military tactics? It was the first time I actually skipped ahead, and even though it was only probably three pages I felt quite guilty.

Ah, the lunch with Rachel. I remember it well. I keep seeing it as a "type" for certain dysfunctional couples, the kind that have no idea how irritating they are and try to draw you into their unpleasant scenes. Bah! Have lunch on your own, wretched drama queens!

BTW if I actually get through my How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel (Alain De Botton) and/or Proust's Way: A Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time (Roger Shattuck), perhaps I can send them to you ...

nwhyte
Sep. 12th, 2007 08:57 am (UTC)
Re: You're reading the Treharne translation, too?
Oh, thanks! I think what I will do is try and get through the seven vols on my own first, then turn to de Botton and/or Shattuck.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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