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I listened to the Audiobook and read simultaneously. My first reading took five months reading one hour a day on most days. First decision, what is the book about and does it interest me? There is a lot of well intentioned but misguided and potentially misleading info about Proust's book. Seek opinions from whomever you like. But I also strongly recommend seeking professional advice.

I have two books to recommend. Not to buy and read entirely at least not yet , but to read the introduction. If you have an e-reader, download these free samples and read them. These books are Proust's Way: These books address such questions as Proust's style and the length of the book. Next decision, which translation should I read?

Read it in French. That wasn't an option for me. In my opinion the translation question is way over emphasized. This isn't Homer, Virgil, Dante etc. Proust's book was written One Hundred years ago. All modern English translations are suitable for first time readers. I used the Public Domain C. Scott Montcrieff translation for all but the last volume which Moncrieff left unfinished at his death.

I chose Moncrieff's translation because it was what the Audiobook used. I was well satisfied. I have purchased the Modern Library version where I will post this review, but my second reading will also use Montcrieff's translation. If that kind of difference makes a difference to you, buy one of the expensive copyrighted translations. Next decision, what edition should I use? One with the fewest footnotes, endnotes, summaries, appendices etc. Proust wrote In Search of Lost Time to be a self-contained story. There are hundred's of character's but less than 20 main characters lots of references to paintings, music, plays, and books.

Character's names and titles for the aristocracy are mind-boggling. Proust understand's your concern and accommodates his readers. Names, places artwork etc that are important to the story are repeated over and over. Historical events are discussed by characters to understand what you need to know for the story. When such things are in past volumes, the circumstance of their location in the story are recalled to refresh the reader's memory. Stopping to look up such things in appendices or footnotes interrupts the narrative flow.

Narrative flow is important and one of the aesthetically pleasing aspects of the book. If you really want to know about a referenced art-work or historical event, make a note and look it up on Wikipedia after the day's reading. Next decision, what supplementary materials should I read to prepare for reading Proust? Proust generates and maintains suspense by deliberately pacing disclosure of even minor details.

Guides and notes I addressed above. Biographies of Proust are particularly counterproductive. The more you focus on Proust, the harder it will be to understand the "big picture" of Proust's book.

Z Routledge Critical Heritage Set

Next decision, listen to the Audiobook while reading? I learned some time ago that listening while reading gave me a tremendous advantage in accessing challenging literature. But Roger Shattuck puts the case best for listening to Proust, "The best way to discover and respond to Proust's expressive voice, as well as the deliberate pacing of his narrative, is to hear the prose, to read it out loud. Translations cannot convey the original texture, yet on this score the available versions perform remarkably well.

They all bear reading aloud. There are several Audio versions of at least the first volume Swann's Way.

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The text narrated is the Moncrieff translation for the first six volumes and Jason and another gentleman collaborated on a translation for the seventh volume which I didn't use because there was no published text. I made do with reading the last volume and was fine with it because I knew how to read the text and pronounce names by then. Having listened and read, I can't imagine listening to this book without reading. It just does not seem well-suited to casual listening, at least to me.

At hours, Naxos claims their Audiobook of Proust's book is the longest recorded to date. That's lots of time to listen to other books. As for abridged versions, As a matter of preference I don't read them. Your milage may vary. Next decision, other techniques? I don't normally highlight novels, but I highlighted a lot in Proust's book.

This was a learned process as I went along. First I highlighted shifts in time and place which are easy to loose track of. The narrator may be standing on a platform waiting to board a train, something makes him start thinking and we are off on a 20 page digression, its good to be able to flip back and see that we are still standing on the train platform. In a different color I highlighted names and titles of new characters and place names.

I highlighted interesting or funny passages in a third color and seemingly important passages in a fourth color. No, it became second nature. I scarcely listened to those anecdotes, something like the ones M. He does offer such a poetic presentation of these long hours listening to others' witticisms grow stale with every retelling, of gossip masquerading as current events, of current events being reduced to small talk thanks for the Dreyfus affair primer, V.

Society is no place for a sensitive man with an artist's soul, as even the most celebrated wit at the salon will eventually turn him into a plaything or a vehicle of immortality, as great painters are demonstrably reduced to mundane portraiture that will only be nitpicked by unappreciative minds for failing to capture the subject's outer beauty and inner glow adequately enough to pacify an aging ego that is fighting the nullification of death with the frivolity of social escapades.

As a sobering reminder of such an inevitability, this volume also sees the loss of the Narrator's beloved grandmother it's not really a spoiler if the book in question is nearly a century old, right? The visible wreckage gathering in the Narrator's mother as she watches her own mother's life ebb away is heartache set to words and makes for one of the most sorrowful sequences I've ever observed as a reader, but also serves as a testament to the humanity with which Proust animates his already estimable writing.

The Narrator's own first taste of loss that runs deeper than simple interruption of a mother's nightly affections is the natural foil to the artificial high-society world he so often finds himself in, which emphasizes the skewed perspective of the latter and permanent void of the former. It seems that a book about recapturing lost times through recollections of the past is bound to memorialize the dead as well as serve as the predictable offspring of a society that is so obsessed with itself that it gleefully, and often maliciously, recounts its own clever turns of phrase when it's not reliving a favorite adversary's shameful misstep.

Because if that's not the epitome of living in a moment before it hurries into the fading past, what is? View all 23 comments. Guermantes Way is like the pretentious, over-educated older sister of Budding Grove who constantly outdoes her little sister at everything. She's longer, she's more boring, she's more interesting, she's wittier and funnier, and she just loves to show off how much she knows.

We really get to know Saint Loup in this volume, as well as the Guermantes family in general - who are some pretty superficial crazies anyway. We also get historical in this one with the Dreyfus affair as the background. There are a few Jewish characters, Bloch who is totally oblivious about being unwanted and annoying, and Charles Swann who of course we love and sympathize with since he married a whore.

The Dreyfus affair really wears Swann out, which is sad, but as a reader you're really distracted by the total creepiness of Marcel so you get over it pretty quickly.

The Guermantes Way

We get a LOT of Mme. Like Princess de Parma and etc. We also hear lots of gossip about people we've met, like Charlus and his dead wife and M.

My only complaint about this volume is I felt like it talked about the lineage of the Guermantes for way too long, and like, the lineages of everyone in all of France. It got rather dry for a good pages, but it picked up later. This book kind of kills Elstir in M. There's a really funny scene and witty, go figure where B. Could there have been a clearer way of saying to you: Guys, Proust is basically the Agatha Christie of page novel-y things that sorta don't have a plot and sorta don't have action verbs and stuff.

You would die without knowing if you didn't ever read volume four. How could you live with that suspense? View all 7 comments. After being a little disappointed in the second volume of Proust, this one returns to the absolute wonderfulness of Swanns Way. I noticed that another reviewer commented on the addictive quality of Proust and I have to agree. A few weeks ago when I started Swanns Way I figured I'd read one of his books, and then maybe next summer go into the next one and leisurely through the remaining years of my thirties read one Proust book a year and enter into my forties being able to say that I'd read Prou After being a little disappointed in the second volume of Proust, this one returns to the absolute wonderfulness of Swanns Way.

A few weeks ago when I started Swanns Way I figured I'd read one of his books, and then maybe next summer go into the next one and leisurely through the remaining years of my thirties read one Proust book a year and enter into my forties being able to say that I'd read Proust. Instead though as soon as I finish one of his books I want to immediately begin the next. Thinking about this book and if I was asked to tell someone 'what it was about', a question I've been asked by three people while reading this book. One of them, a security guard at work,and one someone in one of my library classes and the third a person in the park who none of the characters of this book would ever associate with.

Each time I told them it was about France around the turn of the century. Each in turn told me they were sorry and it didn't sound interesting, I should note that not one of the people knew who Proust was, a fact that left me a little baffled I mean what's the point of reading the highest of high brow literature if you can't 'wow' people with your reading material, is there really another reason to be reading this stuff?

When I think really what this book is about the answer is almost worse then saying it's about France to people who never heard of the author. Instead it's about a couple of parties, and a little bit of stuff that happens before them. Of course the characters and description given to these couple of parties is so fucking good you might find yourself cursing Proust a little bit when he switches gears and goes back into his internalized bits, but after a few pages of inner monologue I always found myself in following the words with a rapt attention.

Now on to Cities of the Plain. Apr 30, Sue rated it it was amazing Shelves: Yes there are moments that seemed to go on In The Guermantes Way, our unnamed narrator has matured somewhat, though his exact age remains unspecified. He is now attending the salons of those who he has admired from a distance, especially Mme de Guermantes, the woman he virtuall This may be my favorite book of ISOLT so far. He is now attending the salons of those who he has admired from a distance, especially Mme de Guermantes, the woman he virtually "stalked" in the streets, setting up regular "impromptu" meetings during her daily travels around Paris.

A love-struck teen or slightly older perhaps. But at these salons, exciting things happen--not duels or sightings of fabulous art and people so much as overhearing wonderful conversation. Our narrator learns about people, his heroes and heroines, himself, and we learn about him. The politics of the time are discussed, with the Drefus case front and center, views on that "race matter" being central, anti-semitism rampant.

Then there are the posing and poseurs, the toadying for favors, and the finding that people are not who they outwardly appear to be. And all of this is done in Proust's quite wonderful prose. Here is a description of the Guermantes and their interactions with others. And yet, to take an example, all of them--all those who were true Guermantes, that is--when you were introduced to them, indulged in a kind of ceremony, almost as though by holding out their hands to you they were performing an act as weighty as confirming a knighthood upon you.

The moment he heard your name uttered, a Guermantes, even a twenty-year-old Guermantes, but treading already in the footsteps of his elders, let fall upon you, as though he had not made up his mind to acknowledge you, a gaze that was generally blue and always as cold as a steel blade, seemingly destined to plunge into the deepest recesses of your heart.

Marcel Proust, the critical heritage / edited by Leighton Hodson - Details - Trove

And this is just what the Guermantes imagined themselves to be doing since they all regarded themselves as first-class psychologists. They also felt that this inspection intensified the affability of the greeting that was to follow it, which would not be delivered without a shrewd idea of your worth. All this occurred at a distance from yourself that would have been too close for a passage of arms, but seemed immense for a handshake. To read more of Mme de Guermantes, you really must read this book.

Proust comes into his own here, in my opinion, with his clever witticisms, sometimes gentle but biting descriptions and some beautiful language. There are some sections that seemed s bit long but it also seemed I was rewarded for these by a writerly gift or two throughout the novel. Highly recommended with the caveat that you should begin with Swann's Way View all 40 comments. Nov 11, Kelly rated it really liked it Shelves: At the time, things were generally pretty intense and serious inside his head.

Yes, in fact, I do know I have a knack for understatement, thank you. But, it must have been about three-quarters through, there was this one little scene where he let Swann leave his house and his head to attend a party. There, he encounters various ridiculous figures whose characters he sums up and then assassinates in the matter of a paragraph or two of simple observation. It was a delightful, all-too-brief break from the concentrated drilling and mining that had been relentlessly marching on. It reassured me that Proust, too, went down to the corner bar, had some sort of snooty adult beverage and gossiped from time to time.

Be careful what you wish for. Because my wish was granted many times over in this volume. Proust gave me everything that I asked for, and hundreds and hundreds of pages more. Instead of having a brief, lucid, in-the-present moment that shone out from the morass of wallowing and the trips to the land-of-never-was around it, we almost never left the party. In this volume, Marcel goes full on Parisian.

What matters is that this situation gives Marcel the springboard for a new obsession. Fortunately for him, his latest residence comes ready made with someone who fits that description exactly: I Am Obsessed with Mme De Guermantes Of all things I never thought would matter for a volume of Proust, I feel compelled to start with a brief plot overview of the beginning of this book: A big part of what he sees, of course, is its connection to the Guermantes, in case anyone has forgotten his childhood obsession with them from Combray. This is the beginning of a violent, immediate and renewed passion for her.

He then starts scheming! Which is totally shocking. He gets back to Paris and is still angling for a meeting that eventually comes far too late. It takes two hundred more pages, a death, a season changing, some sex, and some outright humiliation from his mother to get himself over the worst of the situation.

Obviously, this section is about more than the sum of the parts that I just told you about. Actually, everything I just said is the best evidence I could give you that focusing on plot in this book really gives you absolutely no idea of what it is really about or how it reads. But I think it is important for us to keep in mind that however beautifully he writes, however lovely his thoughts might be, usually we judge people by what they say and what they do, yes? So while plot will never be king here, that does not mean that it should be entirely dismissed. But this is an excellent reason to make sure we pay attention to them, particularly in this society focused book which is all about watching how people build up their public personas and relationships and finding the holes and inconsistencies in them.

Which I am quite sure he intended. There are a few good examples of this in this section. The first, and perhaps the most hilariously pathetic, is when he has gone to visit Saint-Loup at the barracks.

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While he is there, he notices that Saint-Loup has a picture of Mme de Guermantes in his room, which he quickly becomes obsessed with and desires to possess. Out to dinner with him one evening, he hems and haws about it, bringing it up and saying to him: And it takes all of one more exchange for the whole curtain to come rolling down when he finally just outs with: What a little emotional manipulator our little Marcel is.

He sees his friend has moral scruples and decides to hate him for it. But examining the plot aside, I will give his writing its due. Even in this section, in the midst of all of this ridiculousness and light operetta-like manuevering, Marcel takes a lot of time out for some beautiful pondering on the meaning of relationships, how they are formed and why they are maintained, and what a huge role perception plays in all of it.

But here, it reaches its full flowering. He goes out of his way to spend dozens and dozens of pages talking about these haughty aristocrats trying to impress him, for reasons he protests are not even apparent to himself. But the more revealing and, it seemed to me, true-to-life example of that is Albertine.

The focus of his desire, at least in a nebulous way, in the second volume, her appearance here comes far too late, after Mme de Guermantes, after his encounter with the Baron de Charlus, and especially after the death of his grandmother. She comes to see him, ready to get it on, far beyond the point where she could possibly get the best of him. At least Proust is self-aware enough to deliver his own verdict on this: Cutting the Cords Unlike the first portion of this book, which, as I mentioned above, to some degree keeps the focus and the priority on the same sorts of themes that were present in the first two volumes- relationships, memory, the past, subjects and people that are pretty close to home or interwoven fairly tightly with his somewhat solitary life.

This next section, I think, quite consciously begins to move him away from that. The death of his grandmother is the surprisingly short interlude that does most of the work. I was there in the room, but in another way I was not there, because she was ignorant of the fact, and like a woman who has been caught unawares at some piece of handiwork that she will hide away if anyone comes in, she was absorbed in thoughts she had always kept hidden in my presence.

The only part of myself that was present- in that privileged moment which does not last and which, during the brief space of a return, we suddenly find ourselves able to perceive our own absence- was the witness, the observer, in traveling coat and hat, the stranger to the house, the photographer who has called to take a photograph of places that will never be seen again. What my eyes did, automatically, as I caught sight of my grandmother was to take a photograph.

Swann's Way, In Search Of Lost Time Vol 1, Combray 1 by Marcel Proust

We never see those dear to us except in the animated workings, the perpetual motion of our incessant love for them, which, before allowing the images their faces represent to reach us, draws them into its vortex, flings them back onto the idea of them we have always had, makes them adhere to it, coincide with it. This cuts his ties with some more of the ideals of his childhood. His mother takes care of the next step and humiliates him about his stalking behavior towards Mme de Guermantes, which takes care of that for a little while.

His cynical pursuit of Mme de Stermaria and gross interlude with Albertine completes the mourning process. After it spits him out, it thrusts him whole-hog back into Parisian society, into dinners with Saint-Loup and company and taking up, finally, with the Guermantes. Two things struck my attention in this section.

The first was how very passive Marcel presents himself in these volumes. I suppose it is inevitable for any book that is observational in nature, but it really does seem as if he scarcely talks to anyone. His lines are sparing and rare is any exchange of back and forth conversation that involves him. If he is compelled to speak, he often gives the reader reasons why, as if that is necessary. Like the lady who was convinced that he was related to a boring French Admiral.

He HAD to respond to her and then disparage her character. His intelligence and pretension definitely needs to be put in its place. But generally, he seems to simply sit silently and watch, in detail, the exchanges and dialogue of others. Presumably, while this is happening, he is having conversations of his own off-screen that he finds more interesting, since he is seated next to people at dinner and generally describes himself as being in a knot of conversation while he is visiting places. Is he the rudest person imaginable, ignoring his conversational partners to obsessively watch someone else?

Why are these people all convinced he is brilliant and special when he rarely says a word? The second was something that had been going on since the beginning of the book, but which became more apparent in this volume, given that we spent so much time on more quotidian happenings, rather than on intense reveries. It was really that.. For example, towards the beginning of the book, he goes to see the actress La Berma. He spends pages analyzing why he finds her better now than he did back when he saw her while he was obsessed with her. What does it boil down to?

So it was a let down. There were moments of more in-depth insight, as we saw with his moment with his grandmother above, but for the most part his insights really could be reduced to rather fortune-cookie style ideas, in substance. Which is why, of course, the style of Proust matters so much, as it does any great author. I noticed the same thing going on in Joyce and Tolstoy. Charlus, a relative of the Guermantes, comes from the upper echelons of society.

He is generally a quite haughty and rather awkward person who places the highest importance on his own rank and worth in such a way that it seems to prevent him from acting like a genuine person with most people that he meets, even the ones with whom it is apparent that he would like to form a connection.

Nin also mentioned that Proust had a way of making characters unforgettable, and the servant Francoise is a prime example of the sort of character one can never forget once one has encountered her: In the first section, Proust has moved from Combray to Paris due to his ailing grandmother. Our protagonist is still as sensitive as ever and is in love with the married Mme Oriane de Guermantes. He turns out to be quite the obsessed, creepy stalker but at least his infatuation of her inspires some poetic passages: We are introduced to the shallow aristocratic society of salons and bluestockings.

And there is scandal and slander galore. It reminds me of how one is often philosophical when confronted with death: It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance. View all 15 comments.

Frustrating, from its beginning, with the narrator's obsession with Duchesse de Guermantes that mirrors his earlier obsessions, as if he hasn't learned anything, which is true: This is a looking back on what he didn't know then with the knowledge he has now. So, of course, the reader sees before he does and to read of his later awareness is a joy The unraveling of an ingrained cherished belief is laborious and we need to see the whole thought process So when I again became frustrated, much later, by a long digression about Duchesse de Guermantes' way of speaking, I wished to tell our narrator: Each time I thought I couldn't possibly take one of these passages any longer, they either ended or up popped one of those lines that seems a throwaway but immediately causes excitement, my inner self perking up to pay even more attention.

Though the narrator's world may seem constrained by the aristocratic set that has befriended him, the narrator-as-character is becoming just a tiny bit more clear: This moment set compliments the 1st sixty eight quantity set of Critical history released through Routledge in October The Achievement of Pirandello Toronto Italian Studies The Nobel Prize-winning dramatist Luigi Pirandello is unquestionably probably the most leading edge playwrights of the 20 th century and likewise some of the most advanced.

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