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The first half of the novel which began Marcel Proust's ambitious seven-volume work Proust is widely considered one of the greatest authors of all time, and The Remembrance of Things Past is recognized as his most prominent work. In this first part of Swann's Way, Proust paints an unforgettable, scathing, and, at times, comic portrait of French society at the close of the 1 The first half of the novel which began Marcel Proust's ambitious seven-volume work Proust is widely considered one of the greatest authors of all time, and The Remembrance of Things Past is recognized as his most prominent work. In this first part of Swann's Way, Proust paints an unforgettable, scathing, and, at times, comic portrait of French society at the close of the 19th century, and reveals a profound vision of obsessive love.


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The first half of the novel which began Marcel Proust's ambitious seven-volume work Proust is widely considered one of the greatest authors of all time, and The Remembrance of Things Past is recognized as his most prominent work. In this first part of Swann's Way, Proust paints an unforgettable, scathing, and, at times, comic portrait of French society at the close of the 1 The first half of the novel which began Marcel Proust's ambitious seven-volume work Proust is widely considered one of the greatest authors of all time, and The Remembrance of Things Past is recognized as his most prominent work. In this first part of Swann's Way, Proust paints an unforgettable, scathing, and, at times, comic portrait of French society at the close of the 19th century, and reveals a profound vision of obsessive love.

30 review for Swann's Way, Part 1

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirstine

    ‘In Search of Lost Time’, and ‘Swann’s Way’ (the first part of which I’ve now read*), is about remembrance; memories and recollections. In fact, nothing much happens in this when you look at it storywise. There’s no plot, no clear, connecting narrative. It’s a continuous stream of recollections, starting from one point and spiraling outwards, at times returning to itself, to its starting point, only to depart again for some other place, over and over. A spiraling outwards and inwards, like an en ‘In Search of Lost Time’, and ‘Swann’s Way’ (the first part of which I’ve now read*), is about remembrance; memories and recollections. In fact, nothing much happens in this when you look at it storywise. There’s no plot, no clear, connecting narrative. It’s a continuous stream of recollections, starting from one point and spiraling outwards, at times returning to itself, to its starting point, only to depart again for some other place, over and over. A spiraling outwards and inwards, like an endless hourglass, memories streaming through, dislocated from time, recovered accidentally, from a smell, a place, a look, where it was stored, separate from us, but now brought back to remind us of moments, people and feelings we’d forgotten. Once I walked past a pizza place and something about the smell reminded me, almost violently, of time I spent in Nepal and suddenly I missed it awfully, something I never thought I’d do, but there I was; I’d stopped in my tracks, and stood completely still caught up in the memory of how the light hit the hallway in the morning as we woke up in Kathmandu and made tea after breakfast. Always the same tea and always placed on a small table in the hall, between our bedrooms and everything else. I’d forgotten completely, and suddenly I was back there for a moment. My entire recollection of my time in Nepal hasn’t been the same since, it brought back memories of light and happiness, of a habit I hadn’t realized I’d made and that I, in that one second, missed more than anything. The spiral of ‘Swann’s Way’ starts from a moment with our narrator in bed and moves outwards towards Combray, his mother, his aunt, his father, his first loves, Swann, all centered on the place Combray, spiraling in and out of each other, connecting and disconnecting, you’re constantly forgetting where you just were, all you remember is where you are right now. It’s a collection of memories that feel immediate, like they’re, for the duration of reading, memories we share, that are, in part, our own as well. It’s a poetic mosaic of moments suspended in time, waiting for someone to pass them by, open them up and let them live again. It is through experiences of the senses that we are thrust backward in time, to moments we had no recollection of before, and still, right then, it’s like being in it again, as if no time has passed, no years between now and then. You’re aware it’s a memory, but for a second it’s so vivid, so strong, so full of emotions you can’t fully decipher, that all you can do is exist in it, and enjoy it in all its glory. These memories that belong to the past but through which, we realize, we will know the future, our actions and feelings ruled as much by what we have forgotten as what we’ve remembered, as what we’ve overcome and as what we’re not aware we’ve brought with us. There’s no denying the narrator's complete dismissal of the present, however, and this complete submersion in the past hints at a future that is either very bleak or perhaps not very long. Is there a better, more opportune moment to look back at the past than at the end of a life? Where we see each memory with all the pain and joy it brought us later on, where we can fully compare who we were then with who we are now, where we can see both the past and the future in one glimpse, what has been, and what is yet to come for our young self. Nothing happens in this book, yet I found it difficult to stop reading, despite the dense prose, the beautiful, impossible, confusing sentences that insist on running on into the sunset. You’re carried effortlessly and imperceptibly from memory to memory, from place to place, it's so quiet and discrete you hardly known you’ve changed time and place till you’re halfway through it. It’s languid, insisting prose, that savors each moment, drags it on endlessly, wanting to remember everything significant about this one hour or day or year in time. It’s specific memories, memories of feelings that span years but can be boiled down to one event. It’s so impossible and so true and I’m in love. *(The version I’m reading is a Danish translation and it consists of 13 books, all but one of the original 7 books are split in two. I may move this review to a review of ‘Swann’s Way’ at some point, writing 13 reviews for 7 books seems dumb.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vanja

    Even the lesbian scene couldn't save me from being bored to death. Even the lesbian scene couldn't save me from being bored to death.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tena

    One would think all the positive reviews before would not let me down. But they did. I, for one, am not one who doesn't appreciate quality literature, classics and similar. I can understand the quality and the importance of a book, especially for the time when it was written. I've struggled for 5 days with this book to finish reading it. And I probably wouldn't if I didn't have it assigned for school. It was an absolute disaster. Every night I had a goal, "only 50 pages, then you can go to sleep" One would think all the positive reviews before would not let me down. But they did. I, for one, am not one who doesn't appreciate quality literature, classics and similar. I can understand the quality and the importance of a book, especially for the time when it was written. I've struggled for 5 days with this book to finish reading it. And I probably wouldn't if I didn't have it assigned for school. It was an absolute disaster. Every night I had a goal, "only 50 pages, then you can go to sleep". It was depressing, it took me over an hour for those pages and it induced a kind of depression. Not to say Proust is overrated, but Proust is overrated. Apparently he's the second most-read author of the 20th century, right after Tolkien. That's alright, at least Tolkien has the lead there (and for a reason!). There's a great article I was reading, which starts with: If you haven't read Proust, don't worry. This lacuna in your cultural development you do not need to fill. On the other hand, if you have read all of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, you should be very worried about yourself. As Proust very well knew, reading his work for as long as it takes is temps perdu, time wasted, time that would be better spent visiting a demented relative, meditating, walking the dog or learning ancient Greek. I find this to be very true. I mean sure, if you'd like to have just that little bit of culture more, but else - in your free time - it's really not worth reading. It's long, dull, there's nothing really going on, and it's terribly confusing. Proust uses so many retrospectives and other time technique which just lead you into this black pit of no way out and you have no idea what's going on. Not to mention his sentences. I mean, great job with being able to put 200 words in a single sentence, but those are so long that you forget what he was talking about in the first place. But well, I guess the Latin saying can be well-used this time, too; de gustibus non est disputandum. If you really thoroughly enjoy this book, I've got nothing to say but bow to you and wish you a happy life. For I, for one, shall never read this book again. Also, for the curious: The Article on Proust

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joe Bambridge

    I had never thought to read Proust until I read Benjamin on Proust. Proust, it turns out, is the perfect, if unexpected, compliment to Benjamin; if Benjamin writes with his face turned back against the forward march of history to excavate the detritus it leaves behind in our collective psyche, Proust does something similar to the individual. In these never ending sentences, Proust painstakingly tries to unthread what memory weaves together as time passes, we sleep, dream and eventually, selectiv I had never thought to read Proust until I read Benjamin on Proust. Proust, it turns out, is the perfect, if unexpected, compliment to Benjamin; if Benjamin writes with his face turned back against the forward march of history to excavate the detritus it leaves behind in our collective psyche, Proust does something similar to the individual. In these never ending sentences, Proust painstakingly tries to unthread what memory weaves together as time passes, we sleep, dream and eventually, selectively, forget; that is, life in all its drama and excitement and pain. In Benjamin’s words, Remembrance of Things Past is ‘the constant attempt to charge an entire lifetime with the utmost awareness’ through a ‘radical attempt at self-absorption.’ And far from some bourgeois navel gazing exercise, it does feel genuinely ‘radical’ - A somewhat insane, but as far as I can think, singularly successful effort to fight back against the passing of time and, through artistic achievement, wrestle some kind of victory that all of humanity can revel in. I don’t think I’ll be attempting the second chapter for some time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    In his essay on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, Jean-Paul Sartre writes, "This unspeakable present, leaking at every seam, these sudden invasions of the past, this emotional order, the opposite of the voluntary and intellectual order that is chronological but lacking in reality, these memories, these monstrous and discontinuous obsessions, these intermittences of the heart--are these not reminiscent of the lost and captured time of Marcel Proust?" Philosophical questions about Time ca In his essay on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, Jean-Paul Sartre writes, "This unspeakable present, leaking at every seam, these sudden invasions of the past, this emotional order, the opposite of the voluntary and intellectual order that is chronological but lacking in reality, these memories, these monstrous and discontinuous obsessions, these intermittences of the heart--are these not reminiscent of the lost and captured time of Marcel Proust?" Philosophical questions about Time can really be found in the work of so many of the great writers -- the so-called modernists -- of this period, from Dos Passos to Woolf to Fitzgerald. Proust's work is a novel, but also a philosophical discourse -- in this sense not unlike Tolstoy's War & Peace -- but it is also seasoned generously with poetic imagery, similes and metaphors (and in this sense -- particularly in the Overture -- his style reminded me a bit of Flaubert, an important influence on Proust, and also of Djuna Barnes). In this first part of Remembrance of Things Past/In Search of Lost Time memory dominates, but the influence of art on memory and perception is also an important theme (from music -- Vinteuil's sonata for Swann -- to paintings and literature -- the writings of Bergotte for Marcel). We also have in this work the weight of idealization over reality, as both Swann and Marcel base their adoration of Odette and Gilberte, respectively, on the images they have built in their imaginations rather than on the real images that confront the eye, which are a bit more disappointing. When I first read this work I wrote in my review: "There were times when I was swept up in this world of Proust's creation, but there were also times where the work stagnated for me. But then Proust would write something and it completely reinvigorated me, as with the whole last section of "Swann in Love"(almost like the sonata, with its passages -- sometimes having a lulling effect and other times stirring up a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions)." On a second reading, knowing what lies ahead in the next few thousand pages of the entire work, I found greater appreciation of the lulls and having read some biographical pieces on Proust I was interested in finding connections between his work and his life and the influence of other writers (like Flaubert and Balzac) upon his style. Sartre is right about Proust (but perhaps not about his fellow Frenchmen in general) when he states: "Proust is a Frenchman and a classicist. The French lose themselves only a little at a time and always manage to find themselves again." Perhaps Proust does at times "lose himself," and when I first read it I wrote that "at times the prose seemed, to use a phrase I particularly enjoyed from Proust, 'rather laboured, like whipped cream.' But those other moments!" What Proust coaxes us to do as readers is to slow down and pay more careful attention to the details of life that we otherwise just let slide past us. The description of Marcel's Oedipal relation with his mother -- his willingness to use deception to elicit a goodnight kiss -- that is so prominent in the Overture, the petite madeleine drenched in tea that sends Marcel back in memory to Combray, the sadism of Vinteuil's daughter and Marcel's voyeurism, the snootiness of the characters -- allegedly not unlike the author, those ridiculous moments at the Verdurins' salon, the power of the sonata and art over the imagination, the similarities between Marcel and Swann and their idealized loves. I could go on and could quote at length the many underlined passages in my copy of this work, but I do not feel that this would be doing any service to this literary masterpiece, and already I feel that I am rambling. The copy of Swann's Way that I picked up is from 1934 and the pages are yellowed and leave a bit of a gritty/pulpy feeling on one's hands when reading it. It was originally a library copy, and even had a library checkout card in between the leaves of the book. Somewhere down the line, this work ended up in someone's private library, as the inside cover is marked with "This book belongs to . . ." Whether or not the book passed through other hands before I snatched it up at one of my favorite used book stores (over a thousand miles from its original home), I don't know. But it is interesting to think of the past of this object in relation to the musings of Mr. Proust. What I found most interesting and a bit sad was that in its 80 years, I was apparently the first person to read the book in full as many of the pages (perhaps 2 dozen) were joined together at the bottom, and apparently had never been sliced open since the book entered the market (I'm sure there is a term for this, but I don't know it). In its long journey, the book has found its way into my hands and I am pleased that this is the case. Now I am all set to begin on part two of Proust's massive multi-volume classic, Within a Budding Grove. It does seem this way, as the following cartoon suggests: Source: Art.com (www.art.com/.../victoria-roberts)

  6. 4 out of 5

    ichimatsu

    ugh

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marija

    This book is just a part of a bigger book and that's why I didn't like it. It's just a introduction with too much characters and descriptions that need to be fit into something but aren't. I didn't know when I was in the past and when in the present. Another thing I have to mention is that the author changes his toughts so quickly that you can't remember what you read two pages before. And the last thing that I didn't like was the main character, he was so annoying and I couldn't understand him This book is just a part of a bigger book and that's why I didn't like it. It's just a introduction with too much characters and descriptions that need to be fit into something but aren't. I didn't know when I was in the past and when in the present. Another thing I have to mention is that the author changes his toughts so quickly that you can't remember what you read two pages before. And the last thing that I didn't like was the main character, he was so annoying and I couldn't understand him at all. But this is just my opinion :/

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arthur

    Good story about ego quality; suppose it benefits to rationalize man is not a being totally alone but his friends are somewhere in this world. Clandestine writer writing presage passages so firm and kindled likable persons take some personal flight or fanciful envy themselves to characteristically truly love this book. I swung under many gloomy passages and for a time long enough to just rationalize how important it is to come and know the family and his situation that are extremely comical and Good story about ego quality; suppose it benefits to rationalize man is not a being totally alone but his friends are somewhere in this world. Clandestine writer writing presage passages so firm and kindled likable persons take some personal flight or fanciful envy themselves to characteristically truly love this book. I swung under many gloomy passages and for a time long enough to just rationalize how important it is to come and know the family and his situation that are extremely comical and many in variation. There is a two way road. So meaningful for the composition. Not at all alienable like following undisguised his little line for a remark to be chosen. I liked this book. Very enjoyable once I finally finished. And knowing so much more. And really left solely inspired. I’m sure I’m not alone. Ah! It great knowing there is more to the series. I’m reading the C.K. Scott Moncrieff translations. My favorite part of Swann’s Way is when Marcel Proust shows Swann as another man even for a person of great society. And implies Swann dines with royalty and keeps this knowledge to himself because of instead making it remotely public. And Marcel Proust made Swann out as a giftedly smart and great man with a meaning and logic as well as humored. There is enough intelligence for hints of hidden adventure in the brooding temper of Swann too and makes him seem to come alive. This is more all at the latter end of the book and after reading so much about the families interested in Swann. Quote:- He would enter the drawing-room; and there, while Mme. Verdurin, pointing to the roses which he had sent her that morning, said “I am furious with you !” and sent him to the place kept for him, by the side of Odette, the pianist would play to them—for their two selves, and for no one else—that little phrase by Vinteuil which was, so to speak, the national anthem of their love. He began, always, with a sustained tremolo from the violin part, which, for several bars, was unaccompanied, and filled all the foreground; until suddenly it seemed to be drawn aside, and—just as in those interiors by Pieter de Hooch, where the subject is set back a long way through the narrow framework of a half- opened door—infinitely remote, in colour quite different, velvety with the radiance of some intervening light, the little phrase appeared, dancing, pastoral, interpolated, episodic, belonging to another world. It passed, with simple and immortal movements, scattering on every side the bounties of its grace, smiling ineffably still; but Swann thought that he could now discern in it some disenchantment. It seemed to be aware how vain, how hollow was the happiness to which it shewed the way. In its airy grace there was, indeed, something definitely achieved, and complete in itself, like the mood of philosophic detachment which follows an outburst of vain regret. But little did that matter to him; he looked upon the sonata less in its own light—as what it might express, had, in fact, expressed to a certain musician, ignorant that any Swann or Odette, anywhere in the world, existed, when he composed it, and would express to all those who should hear it played in centuries to come—than as a pledge, a token of his love, which made even the Verdurins and their little pianist think of Odette and, at the same time, of himself— which bound her to him by a lasting tie; and at that point he had (whimsically entreated by Odette) abandoned the idea of getting some ‘professional’ to play over to him the whole sonata, of which he still knew no more than this one passage. “Why do you want the rest ?” she had asked him, “Our little bit; that’s all we need.” He went farther agonised by the reflection, at the moment when it passed by him, so near and yet so infinitely remote, that, while it was addressed to their ears, it knew them not, he would regret, almost, that it had a meaning of its own, an intrinsic and unalterable beauty, foreign to themselves, just as in the jewels given to us, or even in the letters written to us by a woman with whom we are in love, we find fault with the ‘water of a stone, or with the words of a sentence because they are not fashioned exclusively from the spirit of a fleeting intimacy and of a ‘lass unparallel’d.’

  9. 4 out of 5

    adeuroin

    I know many people would consider me crazy and out of my mind because I gave Proust a star,but it is what it deserves.The first time I picked it up, I read one page and then got stuck rereading the same sentence over and over again. Right then and there I knew I was in a lot of trouble. Not ony did it take me almost 2 months to read it, but a piece of my soul died in the process. It just bored me to death and if it weren't a school assignment,I would have never picked this book up by myself and I know many people would consider me crazy and out of my mind because I gave Proust a star,but it is what it deserves.The first time I picked it up, I read one page and then got stuck rereading the same sentence over and over again. Right then and there I knew I was in a lot of trouble. Not ony did it take me almost 2 months to read it, but a piece of my soul died in the process. It just bored me to death and if it weren't a school assignment,I would have never picked this book up by myself and my life would have been better. This book is just one of those books I hated and am never touching again. Even with a 4 meters long stick. Also,when I was doing some research on this book I found this article and I could have not said it any better myself. -''Reading his work for as long as it takes is temps perdu, time wasted, time that would be better spent visiting a demented relative, meditating, walking the dog or learning ancient Greek.'' And dear fellow readers, it would have taken me less time to learn ancient Greek than finish this book. Apparently not for mister James Franco. I read in his internet biography that In Search of Lost Time is one of his favourite books. Really? Am I being lied to? If not,CONGRATS to James Franco on finishing it! So I guess he's already fluent in ancient Greek,visited a demented relative,walked a dog and meditated to the point where he could actually read this whole novel in 7 volumes, not die in the process and make it his favourite book. I'm truly impressed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    I didn't like this book at all. The reason may be the short time I had to read it or maybe just the fact that this is a typical modern novel. No happenings at all... I think I misunderstood some of the parts so the depth of the novel hasn't been clear for me. I shall try reading it in 10 years and we'll see what happens. I didn't like this book at all. The reason may be the short time I had to read it or maybe just the fact that this is a typical modern novel. No happenings at all... I think I misunderstood some of the parts so the depth of the novel hasn't been clear for me. I shall try reading it in 10 years and we'll see what happens.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Martina

    I had to read this for school,but oddly enough,I actually really enjoyed it. It was different that any other book I've read before. The main idea for this are this kid's memory of his childhood,there are no special plot or story to be told. It got me interested in his life and the writing style is also amazing. I had to read this for school,but oddly enough,I actually really enjoyed it. It was different that any other book I've read before. The main idea for this are this kid's memory of his childhood,there are no special plot or story to be told. It got me interested in his life and the writing style is also amazing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    My voyage through Proust begins... Loved the color... descriptions bringing the settings and those in them to rich life. This is a read to be sipped and savored...like a cup of chocolate at Angelina's in Paris. My voyage through Proust begins... Loved the color... descriptions bringing the settings and those in them to rich life. This is a read to be sipped and savored...like a cup of chocolate at Angelina's in Paris.

  13. 4 out of 5

    majstoricamagije

    I'm very sorry, even embarrassing, to say, but this was totally bored I'm very sorry, even embarrassing, to say, but this was totally bored

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karla Westfall

    I've never read a book this boring before. Reading this was almost unbearable... I've never read a book this boring before. Reading this was almost unbearable...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nella

    i dont know what i read

  16. 5 out of 5

    BokHrvatLovro KakoSte

    Could not finish it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    *** There be spoilers ahead *** Years ago I picked up some dusty 1920s volumes of Swann's Way, of course translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, and it appealed to me to read this his translation, if only because it is contemporaneous of the times À la recherche du temps perdu was first published. And then there's the history of this book, the beautiful paper, it's smell, the feel - all this adds to my enjoyment. But I know that some aren't so keen on his translation - right from the title Remembrance *** There be spoilers ahead *** Years ago I picked up some dusty 1920s volumes of Swann's Way, of course translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff, and it appealed to me to read this his translation, if only because it is contemporaneous of the times À la recherche du temps perdu was first published. And then there's the history of this book, the beautiful paper, it's smell, the feel - all this adds to my enjoyment. But I know that some aren't so keen on his translation - right from the title Remembrance of Things Past. And I read that even Proust himself felt "Moncrieff tended to smooth out or sweeten certain knotty or perverse moves in Proust". Anyway, I'm a hundred pages into Swann's Way, so a long way to go. I do feel some trepidation, but I'm hoping to just immerse myself in it, and go with the flow. I have to say I've been delighted so far - and some of the humour is wonderfully droll; actually made me chuckle out loud, which is not normal for me, being somewhat a grumpy curmudgeon. I want to embrace this work with a gentle feeling. ---- I've definitely become a little more obsessive with time and memory as I've got older, and how I relate to my younger selves: I look back and feel quite detached from that younger self/selves, and find it hard to relate to the person that was - they seem like someone else entirely separate from me. But I do have these madeleine moments, and on occasion connect with a past self; even though I was well aware that this moment happens in Proust, heard it referenced a multitude of times, reading the actual passage, and then the ending ( all this sprang "from my cup of tea"), it still had the power to make me well up. A wonderful description of the sensation, of for a moment feeling whole. ---- Continuing with Proust, slowly. I’m already a painfully slow reader (I’m only just starting Swann in Love after a good ten days), but here I am glad to be so slow, to allow me to absorb the nuances of the scenes and events described; to grasp and hold onto the meaning accumulated over a long meandering sentence - not always easy. Hah - in one scene, it took me a few moments to realise that it seems young Marcel had been masturbating out the window! Something else that has startled me: he evokes so many aspects of my own dysfunctional past, and relationships. Things that I have noticed, or only half noticed and brushed away, are brought out to be turned over and examined - constantly I'm thinking: I know someone who does that; I’ve been in that situation before; and more sheepishly, oh yeah, I’ve done that... Every dozen or so pages I pause, and I realise its packed full of observations and thoughts I want to hold onto, to savour. And to learn from too, I think; make my own. ---- Also it's very funny! That took me completely by surprise too... for instance, the antics of Aunt Leonie had me chuckling out loud, something that rarely happens for me when reading. ----- When I read that particular passage [masturbation], I thought, that sounds almost as if he's.... wait a minute, is he? Nah, surely not, its would be a bit weird... but it is a rather odd description though - - and hot on the heels of all that longing for a peasant girl to emerge out of the earth... oh, I think he did! I think if he hadn't described an erotic dream, and probably wet dream at that, in the first few pages of Swann's Way, I'd have assumed he was just being emotionally over-wrought at that moment. Yes, I also read a few articles about the first few "chapters" I had read, and it helped a lot in pulling together some themes and ideas which I missed, or didn't fully understand or appreciate. I'm really glad I finally started reading Proust. ---- I've just ordered La Mare au Diable and Francois le Champi (by George Sand), as I found the second (Francois the Waif) deals in part with incest, something that that touches on Proust's worries about his relationship with his mother - it was also mentioned in Quest for Proust, so I might read this in parallel - this is something that will be easy in which to indulge while reading Proust - there are some many tangents and references dropped along the way, which can lead to explorations and discoveries. Today I explored some of the paintings referenced, specifically Botticelli's figure of Zipporah, Jethro’s daughter, which is to be seen in one of the Sistine frescos, wjo he likens to Odette. Or rather, the painting provides a route to adoring Odette. ---- 'm nearing the end of Swann in Love, which I'm finding very sad, and slightly despairing. But I like Swann. Sigh... I'm not sure if its "normal" to recognise yourself so much in Proust, but I do, constantly: sometimes with humour and a certain tenderness; sometimes squirming in my seat, feeling a little flushed. I've been obsessively and abjectly in love too - so it brings back some of those moments in my life quite vividly - but thankfully I never got in quite as deep as poor old Swann. But then he does wonder if his being a man of "independent means" allows him the luxury of being so entrapped, so... there but the grace of God, and all that. But there is humour still here, especially in some of the descriptions of the maneuverings and oneupmanship of high society. Lightens the load. One of the things I like about reading Proust is it constantly provides opportunities to go off at a tangent, away from the text, and discover all sorts of new things. I saw there's a book all about paintings found in Proust, which I am tempted buy. And then there's using Zipporah in Botticelli's fresco to conjure up Odette - and how through almost sheer force of will Swann attempts to make Odette appear like her to him. Funny, one of the things people often say about novels is they allow you to build up an image of the characters in their mind's eye - and here it's almost as if Proust/Swann is saying: no, you fool - this is her! But in the meantime I've ordered George Sand's Francois the Waif, which is the novel that young Marcel's mother reads to him when she gave into his demands for a goodnight kiss early on in Swann's Way, and landed up sleeping in his bedroom all night. Surprise, it has an Oedipal theme to it... it's short, so maybe next weekend another break from "the text". ---- I forgot when I was younger, one coping strategy for bouts of depression I suffered was to tell myself: it will pass. And now, finishing Swann in Love, I realize how extraordinarily closely I followed Swann, empathised with him, as he dug his pit furiously, fueled by obsession and jealousy; then jumped in (I followed him), and still not contented, proceeded to rain clods of earth down upon his head, planting himself in the mire for eternity – I despaired for 250 plus pages - and then! - in a mere dozen - suddenly - he completely discombobulates me; catches me totally off guard; side swipes me with cheerful insouciance, as in one bound: he’s free! The cheek! I actually muttered aloud in the café: “You bastard!”. And yet suddenly I too felt freed, and realized how Swann’s despair had permeated my week, drenched me in melancholy. And now, I too felt free, felt lightened. The man is a genius. But of course, the ending all raises more questions than it answers… sigh. I need a pint.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Hrvoić

    I had this book for a quite long time and although I was longing to start reading it I waited until I managed to get whole collection of In search for time lost. And it wasn’t what I expected/hoped it to be. I found protagonist’s softness bit irritating and I’m not a big fan of endless daydreamish descriptions of churches’ rooftops, flowers and seasons. His way of presenting characters is somewhat different. He gently dances around of seemingly worthless details, starting out of nowhere, prepari I had this book for a quite long time and although I was longing to start reading it I waited until I managed to get whole collection of In search for time lost. And it wasn’t what I expected/hoped it to be. I found protagonist’s softness bit irritating and I’m not a big fan of endless daydreamish descriptions of churches’ rooftops, flowers and seasons. His way of presenting characters is somewhat different. He gently dances around of seemingly worthless details, starting out of nowhere, preparing to get you fallen asleep just as with rooftops, before, out of nowhere, he strucks you with kind, but twisted twist in their personality and life, revealing deep secrets and flaws of human character. And that was something I liked very much, and something that kept me turning pages one after another. As I have said it wasn’t what I expected and it doesn’t look like my favorite type of literature, but it has that something that draws me to itself and forces me to finish whole collection. And its title is really cool.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    It takes some patience to break the shell of this literary egg...but the effort is worth it...as the innocent chick is actually a peacock in the making! Some of the passages...even in translation...are almost surreal in their colours, scents & thoughts...& made me an admirer of this great writer...much to my surprise...& my gratitude: another 7 volumes to enjoy in this period of utter frustration with the world of lock-downs & social-distancing. What would Marcel have made of this nightmare for It takes some patience to break the shell of this literary egg...but the effort is worth it...as the innocent chick is actually a peacock in the making! Some of the passages...even in translation...are almost surreal in their colours, scents & thoughts...& made me an admirer of this great writer...much to my surprise...& my gratitude: another 7 volumes to enjoy in this period of utter frustration with the world of lock-downs & social-distancing. What would Marcel have made of this nightmare for artists & aesthetes?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I was assigned to read this for school. EVERYBODY hated it. Majority couldn't make it first past 10 pages..but i liked it. It was a while ago and i still find myself involuntary thinking about this book. Like the entire idea of searching for something that's already lost really makes perfect sense and it doesn't at the same time. Seemingly about nothing, actually says a lot. I was assigned to read this for school. EVERYBODY hated it. Majority couldn't make it first past 10 pages..but i liked it. It was a while ago and i still find myself involuntary thinking about this book. Like the entire idea of searching for something that's already lost really makes perfect sense and it doesn't at the same time. Seemingly about nothing, actually says a lot.

  21. 4 out of 5

    J

    Requires real patience and concentration. Proust will spend so much time on describing one anecdote, then move on so quickly it can be confusing. Then again, this is a vignette of a man’s childhood. Combray comes to quite a wonderful conclusion that is both deflating and affirming.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Keehr

    I had to buy a version of this on cassette because the libraries no longer include it in their catalog. I listened to it during my commute to Troy and during our vacation in Gatlinburg. I wish I could read the rest. 9/12/11

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Too many overlong descriptions for my taste and quite a number of sentences I was unable to comprehend, which is on me, but it definitely stopped me from enjoying my time reading this.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Hull

    This book -- and by this book I am, naturally, referring only to the first volume of Proust's masterwork, that is, Swann's Way, itself composed of four smaller parts, the second of which, Swann in Love, was some years ago made into a film (not forgetting that there have been a number of other cinematic and televisual adaptations of parts or, indeed, the entirety of this tome) -- is perhaps the most challenging I have ever read, though others, notably Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! come close (and This book -- and by this book I am, naturally, referring only to the first volume of Proust's masterwork, that is, Swann's Way, itself composed of four smaller parts, the second of which, Swann in Love, was some years ago made into a film (not forgetting that there have been a number of other cinematic and televisual adaptations of parts or, indeed, the entirety of this tome) -- is perhaps the most challenging I have ever read, though others, notably Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! come close (and clearly Faulkner was influenced by the earlier work), as indeed does The Man Without Qualities, the unfinished novel by Robert Musil, although my memory of reading this (albeit not completely, for I was perhaps more easily distracted, or impatient, or simply careless in my younger years) tells me that it was, while slow and challenging, somehow more stimulating in a visceral sense, if indeed "visceral" is the correct term to use to describe the feelings generated by the strange mixture of confusion and fascination imparted by Musil's words; and while the effort required of the reader by Proust, an effort which is, at least in part, due to the seemingly endless, almost tortuously twisting and branching sentences which now channel the reader into lengthy culs-de-sac and now render him or her dizzy with the disorentation peculiar to such an amalgamation, nay an onslaught of words, while this effort certainly challenges and discourages and, in fact, generates irritation and even revulsion in some eyes, it can also work a particular magic, in that the very effort made to comprehend the writer's intention on a purely narrative level somehow sucks the reader into a deeper, non-literate world, a world in which the emotion, the sensitivity, the, as it were, background radiation of the writer's universe infuses the mind and we find that on a fundamental level we understand, we almost become the writer, we commune with him, and in doing so experience what is simultaneously the fundamental purpose and the rarest accomplishment of literature or any other of the arts, namely, we understand another human being. Or maybe not. Depends. But I fully intend to read the rest of it some day, when I recover from reading this much.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Writing this when I'm well into the third of my 13-volume edition. Which will be a companion for some months (reading other books as well - otherwise I do not think I could cope). Will only write very brief reviews - all has been said - but I do really enjoy the ride. In spite of it's reputation, I don't think it's a "difficult" read, but of course only to be read when you can give it your full attention. Some passages are pure magic, the meticulous probing into every detail of any minuscule inc Writing this when I'm well into the third of my 13-volume edition. Which will be a companion for some months (reading other books as well - otherwise I do not think I could cope). Will only write very brief reviews - all has been said - but I do really enjoy the ride. In spite of it's reputation, I don't think it's a "difficult" read, but of course only to be read when you can give it your full attention. Some passages are pure magic, the meticulous probing into every detail of any minuscule incident, expression, human behaviour, artistic expression etc is simply fascinating.

  26. 5 out of 5

    albin james

    California by Joni Mitchell Sitting in a park in Paris France Reading the news and it sure looks bad They won't give peace a chance That was just a dream some of us had Still a lot of lands to see But I wouldn't want to stay here It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here Oh but California California I'm coming home I'm going to see the folks I dig I'll even kiss a Sunset pig California I'm coming home I met a redneck on a Grecian isle Who did the goat dance very well He gave me back my smile But he kept California by Joni Mitchell Sitting in a park in Paris France Reading the news and it sure looks bad They won't give peace a chance That was just a dream some of us had Still a lot of lands to see But I wouldn't want to stay here It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here Oh but California California I'm coming home I'm going to see the folks I dig I'll even kiss a Sunset pig California I'm coming home I met a redneck on a Grecian isle Who did the goat dance very well He gave me back my smile But he kept my camera to sell Oh the rogue the red red rogue He cooked good omelettes and stews And I might have stayed on with him there But my heart cried out for you California Oh California I'm coming home Oh make me feel good rock 'n' roll band I'm your biggest fan California I'm coming home Oh it gets so lonely When you're walking And the streets are full of strangers All the news of home you read Just gives you the blues Just gives you the blues So I bought me a ticket I caught a plane to Spain Went to a party down a red dirt road There were lots of pretty people there Reading Rolling Stone reading Vogue They said "How long can you hang around?" I said a week maybe two Just until my skin turns brown Then I'm going home to California California I'm coming home Oh will you take me as I am Strung out on another man California I'm coming home Oh it gets so lonely When you're walking And the streets are full of strangers All the news of home you read More about the war And the bloody changes Oh will you take me as I am? Will you take me as I am? Will you? © 1970; Joni Mitchell

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein

    What does one say about a book whose sentences typically run a paragraph or a page long? Perhaps I am exaggerating but the first three or four of my attempts to read this book ended in failure because I found it so cumbersome to read. Perhaps I needed to grow up, be more patient and sure enough, when I got older, I was a little more patient. Patience is what you need a lot of in reading this tome. But once you get the knack and find your way into inhabiting the world of Proust as presented in Sw What does one say about a book whose sentences typically run a paragraph or a page long? Perhaps I am exaggerating but the first three or four of my attempts to read this book ended in failure because I found it so cumbersome to read. Perhaps I needed to grow up, be more patient and sure enough, when I got older, I was a little more patient. Patience is what you need a lot of in reading this tome. But once you get the knack and find your way into inhabiting the world of Proust as presented in Swann's Way, there is a lot to consider, to find pleasure in, to think about or simply to let go of whatever impatience you have left. I found that when I resolved to read it him properly this time, I was rewarded. I found reading it to be meditative and calming. No need to rush, take one small step and realize how that little step compares to all the other little ones that you will be making and needing to get through reading the whole of it. The plot itself is not that complicated but the cast of characters are laid bare with all their little crazy thoughts. At times you will get infuriated by all the details: do I really need to know all of that to read this, you ask. But then again, you will find yourself being challenged. Just what did Proust really have in mind when he wrote this? What did he really want the reader to take away? Perhaps it is an individual thing, a private thing that you may not want to disclose to anyone, but there it will be, in your internal world, to be enjoyed by you alone. That is what I experienced reading and finally finishing Swann's Way.

  28. 5 out of 5

    S

    The language, the use of descriptions, is simply phenomenal. And I appreciate Proust's way of guiding us through the seemingly irrelevant bits of stories with threads of ideas and concepts that ultimately leave us feeling that no matter how random most of the described events were, there was something to this in the end. I admire Proust's way to handle such amount of concepts while keeping his eye on the price, so to speak. However, since the narrative wanders from one place to another seamlessly The language, the use of descriptions, is simply phenomenal. And I appreciate Proust's way of guiding us through the seemingly irrelevant bits of stories with threads of ideas and concepts that ultimately leave us feeling that no matter how random most of the described events were, there was something to this in the end. I admire Proust's way to handle such amount of concepts while keeping his eye on the price, so to speak. However, since the narrative wanders from one place to another seamlessly, I had to focus a lot to the reading process itself: my mind started to wander about, too, if I didn't focus hard enough. Though that's okay, too, I think - at least if you have time to read this book in your own phase. The second bit I'm a bit unhappy about is - surprise surprise - the lack of plot. Though I have to say that the need for one isn't very pressing: I'm quite happy to have this book as a diverse montage of multiple small images, but I would have enjoyed it more, if the main thread had been more pronounced, instead of it just popping up every now and again very briefly. But like I already said, the book is what it is and I respect it for it. The language itself is a reason to read this. Three stars plus one extra for the language.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rikke

    “If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all the time.” I cannot explain what the plot is in this book. I am not sure if there even is a plot. Instead this is a book of deep thoughts and musings, long and curly sentences and an endless amount of atmospheric and momentarily impressions. Proust is able to stop time and space, to split every second into an eternity and to define every sense jolting through his main character's body. It is “If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less, but to dream more, to dream all the time.” I cannot explain what the plot is in this book. I am not sure if there even is a plot. Instead this is a book of deep thoughts and musings, long and curly sentences and an endless amount of atmospheric and momentarily impressions. Proust is able to stop time and space, to split every second into an eternity and to define every sense jolting through his main character's body. It is beautiful. A tiny and hesitant bite of a madeleine transports the reader, the author and the main character on an incredible journey; memories come to life, old times become present - and every word is a delicate and tangible part of the experience. The rest of the book is memories boiling up with the steamy scent from a filled teacup. This book is filled with long and complicated sentences, impossible words and a perfectly disorientated timeline. But every page is a journey, every word is a memory and every single letter is an experience.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jere

    Remarkable for its Madeleine cake scene, in which the narrator's memory becomes involuntarily activated. While boring to some, I found it particularly exciting how he describes the scenes of the past, how vivid are the images of trees in sunlight and shadows, how curious the interactions between characters - stopping to admire the surroundings and finding beauty in the mundane,so to say (and that is something everyone should take from this book). Interesting to see how "the story" develops (as t Remarkable for its Madeleine cake scene, in which the narrator's memory becomes involuntarily activated. While boring to some, I found it particularly exciting how he describes the scenes of the past, how vivid are the images of trees in sunlight and shadows, how curious the interactions between characters - stopping to admire the surroundings and finding beauty in the mundane,so to say (and that is something everyone should take from this book). Interesting to see how "the story" develops (as this was just the 1st out of 10 in the Finnish edition of the series). Recommended for readers who do not read primarily for the plot.

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