Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust (1920, trans. By C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Vol. III of In Search of Lost Time)

In Search of Lost Time (also referred to as Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust is one of the supreme achievements of European art. Maybe it is the very pinnacle. .  I last read it maybe forty years ago. I am so glad I decided to reread it.  I find it a very addictive world it pains me to withdraw from.  It, a work in seven volumes, is the very epitome of a reading life book. I urge all seriously into great literature to read this book as young as they can.  That way you can reread it numerous times and you will have a benchmark to place other works in perspective.  I think the biggest hindrance for most in reading this work is the great length of the seven volumes.  For many busy people, those with unpleasant things like jobs, would be loath to invest what could be a year of their reading time in Proust. Many of his readers seem to be academics.  

Volume Three, The Guermantes Way takes us into great pain for our narrator, his beloved Grandmother dies, and his great friend, Swann, is deathly ill.  Much of the narrative action centers around the fabulously wealthy ultra high society family of the Guermantes.  Marcel's family (the work can be described as fiction masquerading as autobiography) has moved next door to the Duchess de Guermantes and Marcel becomes obsessed with them.  He slowly enters their social circle and much of the work is devoted to a microscopic dissection of the social intricacies involved.  There just is so much in this book.  Balzac is the most referenced author, so far, and French society is divided by the Dreyfus case.   

I think this sentence fragment is among my favorites, especially that portion blued over 

I have begun Sodom and Gomorah.

1 comment:

Arti said...

I've read the first two vols. When I have time, will definitely continue. Thanks for this write-up. Looking forward to your future posts on Proust. Amazed that you've read the whole seven vols. forty years ago and now rereading. ;)