Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

September Books 4) [In Search of Lost Time #3] The Guermantes Way

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.)
Tags: bookblog 2007, writer: proust
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