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4) [In Search of Lost Time #1] The Way By Swann's, by Marcel Proust

I haven't done very well in my sampling of Great Literature so far this year, so was braced for another bout of reading drudgery. But in fact I found myself completely captivated by this first of Proust's classic series; his evocations of children's perceptions of the world of grownups, and of what it is like to be a man in love, are simply superb. Sure, you have to smile a bit at the very long sentences - the editor protests that Proust's reputation for this is a bit unfair, in that "only" a quarter of the text consists of sentences that are longer then ten lines - yeah, right. But it would be impossible to unwind them. The pace of the book is of course very slow but I found that part of its charm. Roll on the second volume.

Also I was taken aback by the amount of girl-on-girl action. I'm not used to that in classic literature.

Top three UnSuggestions for this book:
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 4th, 2007 07:59 am (UTC)
I've tried to read Swann's Way twice now, and both times I've given up because I've lost track of how I got to where I was. In the small, the book is glorious. There are some marvellous descriptive passages, and at an intellectual level I appreciate the device of letting the plot flow as tangents from tangents, but I don't think that I have the discipline necessary to read such a novel.

It was also quite clear that Swann's Way is one of the great unread novels. All of the popular cultural references to it that I'd read - namely the experience of waking in a bed but not being able to work out which of the many beds in which you've slept it is, the smell that asparagus imparts to urine, and the infamous madeleine transporting the narrator to his childhood and his aunt's house in Balbec - occur within the first two hundred pages.

The other reason I've failed to finish it is that I was sidetracked by Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle....
Apr. 4th, 2007 09:32 am (UTC)
I keep meaning to read this and I get intimidated by its size & reputation. This review is encouraging.
Apr. 4th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
I bounced repeatedly off the Scott-Moncrieff translation of Proust which I found horrifically stilted, mannered and twee... are you reading the 'new' translations?

Apr. 4th, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
Yes, and the translator is scathing about the errors in Scott-Moncrieff and those who revised him without reference to the original - one particularly gruesome one is that apparently Swann's question to his girlfriend about her romping with women, Il y a combien de temps? is translated as "How many times?" rather than "How long ago?"

Boggle. That's pretty huge. You can see how a casual translator might make the mistake, but it shouldn't survive the editing process!
May. 1st, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
Swann's Way
I'm also reading Proust and blogging about him. It's an intimidating thought, but Proust should be read at life's different stages, because you as a reader bring various experiences into the mix which makes the volumes meaning and interpretation change over time. Kind of a Proustian thing. I'm putting a link to this posting in my blog: http://proustwhore.blogspot.com/ Reading Proust in Foxborough Odette (!)
Dec. 7th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
Muy buen libro. Por un momento pensé que podía ser algo pesado y aburrido, pero realmente la historia se Swann y Odette me parecio original para su época, y de alguna forma, también, el sentido de la gran obra de Proust creo que es parodiar, hasta el borde del ridiculo, las aristocracias francesas venida a menos que describe con genialidad. No sólo construye una visión social de la aristocracia francesa en decadencia, sino que además, la matiza con conceptos acerca del tiempo, la memoria involuntaria y reflecciones del ser y la naturaleza de la existencia, entre tantos de tipo filosófico; muchos de ellos a partir de Bergson. Es para continuar con los seis libros que faltan.
Mi aporte en español.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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