From Library Journal
What was it that Churchill said about Russia's being an enigma wrapped in a riddle inside a ? French writer Raczymow (Pauvre Bouilhet) does Churchill one better in this meditation on Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu: "It's true that Swann was saved by Proust. I mean Haas. That is, Proust means Haas. And Haas alone. Haas alone was saved. He became Swann." Even the most informed reader will have little idea of what the author is talking about unless he or she is almost obsessively familiar with Proust's great work. To clarify the example given, Charles Swann was one of the major characters in Proust's magnum opus, and Proust is said to have modeled Swann on Charles Haas, a dandy of the era. Ranging as far afield as Groucho Marx and Jeremy Irons, Raczymow investigates such issues as the meaning for Proust of Swann's name, the significance of his real-life counterpart's being a Jew in French high society, and the relation of Proust the author to Proust the narrator of the work. There are moments of humor here, as when Raczymow brings Proust the writer to task for his manner of "advancing a behavior, a type of speech, an ideology and attaching thirty-six thousand explanations to it without promoting one of them as most probable." Readers who thought they knew all there was to know about A la recherche may well gain further enlightenment from this slim volume, which should find a place in academic collections on Proust.Edward Cone, New York
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"A splendid work of art . . . deftly touches on the very essence of In Search of Lost Time." --Le Nouvel Observateur
"Exciting, palpitating, pertinent, profound." --Le Figaro
"Devotees of Proust will welcome Henri Raczymow's delightful new book." --L'Express