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Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to in Search of Lost Time Hardcover – October 27, 2008

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  • Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to in Search of Lost Time
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Editorial Reviews


An indispensable companion for readers of Proust…. Precisely what’s been needed for about 90 years.

” (Rochester Post-Bulletin)

“A visually stunning and surprisingly accessible book that brings out subtle facets of Proust’s masterpiece, as well as the artworks he cites…Karpeles comes close to encapsulating Proust’s vision…Paintings in Proust could serve effectively as either a concise preface or a meaningful afterword to the monumental novel. What’s more, it can be appreciated entirely on its own.” (Art in America)

About the Author

Eric Karpeles is a painter who was educated at Haverford College, Oxford University, and The New School. He lives in California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1st edition (October 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500238545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500238547
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By colotes on October 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an absolutely essential companion to Proust's In Search of Lost Time. The book reproduces all the paintings and drawings that Proust makes clear reference to in his novel. It also contains works that he alludes to, but doesn't name or definitely describe, which Karpeles judges may have been the source of the inspiration. Some of these works are very difficult to track down; Karpeles does a truly wonderful service to all Proustians by gathering them together in one book. There are 206 illustrations, 196 in color. The quality of reproductions is excellent, although the details of some of the larger paintings suffer from reduced size.

The book is arranged by the seven volumes of the novel. Each work of art is accompanied by a short introduction setting the context within the novel and the excerpt which references it. Karpeles also provides a helpful index which lists every reference in the novel to either the painters or paintings mentioned. The references include the page numbers from the French Tadie Pleiade Edition as well as the Moncrieff/Kilmartin and Moncrieff/Kilmartin/Enright translations (but not the latest Penguin translation).

The footnotes at the end of the book are a gold mine of Proustian tidbits and should not be ignored. In addition to listing where the works are displayed and dimensions, Karpeles provides much interesting information and clarifies some textual issues. For example, in discussing the painter Mihaly Munkacsy, he explains that due to "Proust's often illegible scrawl ... Munkacsy's name was never used in the earliest editions of the novel .... The intense [editorial] scrutiny of Jean Yves Tadie restored Munkacsy to his rightful place ... and his correction resulted in the change also finally being made by ...
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on October 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a dedicated Proustian for twenty happy years, I have read his long novel several times but this new book by Eric Karpeles has taken my pleasure to a new level. Although I enjoy looking at paintings, I have a very limited knowledge of art history and, as a result many of Proust's allusions and even many descriptions were wasted on me. Vermeer's `View of Delft' is such an important part of the novel that I made a point of finding a copy of the painting - but I lacked the knowledge to track-down all the other wonderful references that Proust uses. Who was the daughter of Botticelli's Zipporah that could so win Swann's heart - even though she was not his `type'? Thanks to Karpeles, I now know what she looked like and have also become aware of all the other wonderful faces that Botticelli created.

What were the paintings of Pieter de Hooche that inspired this exquisite description of Vinteuil's sonata? "He began, as always, with the sustained tremolos of the violin part which for several bars was heard alone, filling the whole foreground; until suddenly it seemed to draw aside, and - as in those interiors by Pieter de Hooch which are deepened by the narrow frame of a half opened door, in the far distance, of a different color, velvety with the radiance of some intervening light - the little phrase appeared, dancing, pastoral, interpolated, episodic, belonging to another world." I have savored that description for many years but, being unfamiliar with the painter I could only go so far in my appreciation.

Eric Karpeles has assembled every pictorial reference that Proust made in all seven volumes of the novel. He has tracked-down the reference - however obscure or arcane - and his publisher has reproduced each one, alongside the original quotation.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Reich Claude on November 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This publication will undoubtedly please any Proust fan and will make you wonder how nobody had the idea before. It lists and reproduces all the paintings alluded to in Proust's masterwork "A la Recherche du Temps Perdu" (In Search of Lost Time). Each work is reproduced in full color, next to the passage of the book in which Proust mentioned it (or sometimes just alluded to it, only mentioning a detail of the work without naming it, and this is where the book does a wonderful documentation job).

The illustrated works (more than 200 of them) range from Renaissance paintings by Titian, Fra Bartolomeo, Da Vinci, etc, to Vermeer's famous View of Delft (illustrated next to the description of Bergotte's death), to modern works by Degas or Manet, but there are also numerous works by lesser-known artists, whose reproductions would be very difficult to find elsewhere (Léon Bakst, Gustave Jacquet,Jehan-Georges Vibert...).

This book is all the more important to the understanding of Proust as he himself acknowledged that "La Recherche" was a work whose theme was the birth of an artistic vocation in the narrator's soul, the novel itself being the result of this birth. He also wrote that " my book is a painting" (as quoted in the present book). Art, and painting in particular, holds a central part in the whole work and, until now, no one had undertaken the necessary task of documenting this. "Paintings in Proust" is at the same time a very helpful and a beautiful contribution to the study of one of the most important works in Western literature.
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