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Swann's Way (Modern Library Classics) Mass Market Paperback – April 27, 2004

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"Reading Swann's Way was a rapturous experience." - David Denby --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (April 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972092
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,017,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

221 of 225 people found the following review helpful By Zeldock on August 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Fortunately, I was never assigned Proust in school and, prior to picking up Swann's Way, knew of Proust mainly through a Monty Python sketch. I thus came to the book with almost no preconceptions. It was, without exaggerration, one of the best reading experiences I have ever had. Proust is unlike any other novelist, somehow looking at life with both incredible analytical detachment and, at the same time, a neurotic coloring that is all his own. But, to fully appreciate this work, you have to take it at the right time. That time, for me at least, is middle age, when you begin to accept your own neuroses, when your own life consists of 50% memories, and when you can appreciate the relentless dissecting of the immortal "types" who inhabit every society. I have gone on to read the next two novels in Proust's series and now have to force myself not to consume the remainder too hastily. Even if Proust turns you off the first time around, wait ten years and try again.
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86 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
We apply "classic" and "masterpiece" too liberally, but regardless of how loosely or strictly we deploy the terms, Marcel's Proust's extraordinary novel belongs to the shortest of short lists deserving such description. At the risk of hyperbole (though I do not thing it is hyperbolic), Proust is the one writer of the 20th century who perhaps belongs to the ages more than to his own time, who belongs with Shakespeare and Dante and Homer.
Many are put off Proust by not understanding the structure of his work and his writing strategy. The book, to many, seems to have no point and no plot. The novel actually does have a plot, albeit a simple and not easy to discern one: Will the narrator (usually termed "Marcel") become a writer? Through seven long volumes, we watch Marcel variously resolve to write and then forsake his resolve, we see him even forget for enormous lengths of time his intent to write. Through love affairs, through events with his friends, through reflections on all matter of subjects and experiences of every kind, Marcel finally comes in the final volume to rediscover his vocation and the subject of his work.
This first volume in the series contains many of the most famous episodes in all of Proust. The famous passage in which the Narrator tells of his not being able to fall asleep as a child is found in the first pages. The most famous section in all of Proust, that of his eating as an adult a madeleine that first creates an inexplicable sense of joy and then engenders a plethora of involuntary memories of his childhood, is also found in this volume. The second half is the remarkable story of "Swann in Love," in which family friend Charles Swann falls in love, much to his surprise, with the courtesan Odette.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Swann's Way is the gateway to the most beautifully written novel there is, that is, the whole of the "Search for Lost Time". Contrary to reputation, it is not "difficult" (in the way, say, Joyce or Faulkner can be) but it is not for people who prefer to skim across novels rather than immerse themselves in them. There is no use in my pulling out the superlatives; to do so would just invite redundancy to the books that have been written on him. But for anyone who loves reading (and who checking out this review does not) I would consider it a great loss to have gone through life, loving books as you do, and having missed out on Proust. It is an experience that will remind you of why you love to read and stay with you throughout your life.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Fuchsia on February 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
One of the most fascinating and beautiful books I've ever read, Proust had a knack for taking the smallest detail and making it meaningful and beautiful. His sentence structure is very different from anything I've ever read before and his writing style is very dense(somebody once told me that it was like swimming through mayonaise) He is one of most original writers of this century and certainly one of the most poetic. Reading Swanns Way has made me hungry to read more of Proust. I've looked everywhere for the whole set of In Search of Lost Time(or Rememberence of Things Past) luckily Amazon has the whole set. Everybody should at least try to read Swanns Way.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Obviously, Swann's Way is a classic piece of literature, one of the most vital works of fiction of the 20th Century. The prose, whether in the original French or in the beautifully translated English, is lush, evocative and deliriously prolix--from the moment the narrator takes a bite of that famous pastry, the reader is swept up into a world so tangibly realized and, at the same time, so hallucinatory in its lushness that he or she cannot fail to be drawn in, quite despite the fact that there's not much of a "plot" to carry the thing along. Instead, we are given intimate access to the minds of Swann, Odette and Proust himself and they are unbelievably fascinating people--so complex, so "real" that one is actually quite sorry when the book ends. Which brings me to my main point: Don't stop here. If Swann's Way is the most famous volume in the monumental "In Search of Lost Time" series, it is not necessarily the best. It is, in fact, something of an extended prologue to the later books, gracefully and movingly setting the scene for the far more dramatic twists and turns that will culminate in the mind-blowing final volume "Time Regained." While Swann's Way is a most compelling and satisfying read on its own, you'll miss out on so much beauty, drama and passion if you don't follow up and read through the full series, rich as it is with intrigue, consuming love, staggering insights into the human mind and outright entertainment value. So, Swann's Way is a must read, but one has to come to it realizing that the end of the novel is only the beginning of Proust's enormous, all-consuming magnum opus. No one will tell you that committing to Proust's fictional world is a slight undertaking, but it is a deeply rewarding one and a required one for all serious readers.
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