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Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove (Vintage) Paperback – August 12, 1982

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove (Vintage)
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  • Remembrance of Things Past: Volume II - The Guermantes Way & Cities of the Plain (Vintage)
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  • Remembrance of Things Past, Vol. 3: The Captive, The Fugitive & Time Regained
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

From the Inside Flap

One of the great works of Western literature, now in the new definitive French Pleiade edition translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. Volume one includes SWANN'S WAY and WITHIN A BUDDING GROVE.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (August 12, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394711823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394711829
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By frumiousb VINE VOICE on October 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
Some time ago, I received the Vintage three-volume box set version of Remembrance as a gift. I had rashly mentioned to a friend that I wanted to read Proust and he took me at my word-- the heavy set arriving by mail and scaring me half to death. It took me a long time to get around to reading it, but I finally summoned up my courage and took down the first volume.

I have many thoughts on the books, and the experience of reading them was not always easy. I will summarize, however, by saying that I believe that I was amply rewarded for making the time and space free to tackle this piece.

It took me quite a while to let myself get into the prose. Although I found it immediately beautiful, haunting even, I struggled over the long complex sentences and the unusual structure. The only advice that I can give to the potential first-time reader is to stop trying to catch everything and let yourself swim along. Eventually if you stop fighting the structure, it really starts to work and you are drawn along with it to the point where you no longer experience it as difficult.

Where is the reward for the reader? There is a passage in the book where Proust is discussing how time flows in any given life. He argues that in order to capture time passing, the novelist generally is given to "wildly accelerating the beat of the pendulum, to transport the reader in a couple of minutes over ten, or twenty, or even thirty years." What I found the most amazing on my first reading of Swann's Way and Within a Budding Grove was that remarkable sense of time in life that Proust is able to portray. He uses more than the wild leaps and jumps that he attributes to his generic novelist. He condenses time, extends it, shortens it and rearranges it.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, Proust is difficult and, yes, he's worth the effort. However, very little is said of the Moncrieff translation. It's simply gorgeous. Compare his title, "Remembrance of Things Past," with "In Search of Lost Time." The first is poetry, the second the title of a History Channel program.
Buy the Moncrieff translation.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is absolutely staggering. I remember not just what I read from it, but what I was doing as I was reading, what the weather was, etc. It's such an overwhelming experience to be immersed in Proust's words, and truly un-like any other novel you'll ever read. I think it takes a sensitive disposition to really appreciate it and some will not like it, but I suggest reading a bit of it (the beginning is a good example of what to expect). It doesn't make any sense to consider the length when deciding whether or not to read-- if you like it, you'll want it to be as long as possible, and if you don't like it, it doesn't matter how long it is. I doubt many people have moderated feelings toward these books. And you can really enjoy these books on any level you want-- someone who casually reads it for pleasure may like it just as much as someone really into critical and literary theory.

A few of my favorite sentences:
"In the evening, when I came in from my walk and thought of the approaching moment when I must say good night to my mother and see her no more, the steeple was by contrast so soft and gentle, there at the close of day, that it looked as if it had been thrust like a brown velvet cushion against the pallid sky which had yielded beneath its pressure, had hollowed slightly to make room for it, and had correspondingly risen on either side; while the cries of birds that wheeled around it seemed to intensify its silence, to elongate its spire still further, and to invest it with some quality beyond the power of words.
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Format: Paperback
Commenting on Remembrance of Things Past as a whole.

It's awesome, complex and highly engaging literature that has a lot of substance to say about the modern world. It bears the impact of its time but it is by no means dated, and the chief insights it delivers are readily applicable to conemporary times. A lot of classics struggle to find a main relevance to later reading, seemingly either overly constrained to the factors that made them initially popular or such that it's puzzling why they took on great success in the first place. Proust doesn't have these issues, and it was apparent fairly early on in the reading what made it worth taking seriously as great literature and, even more pressingly, produced an engaging text.

As a novel it's about a lot of things, bringing in attention and a lot of insight into class, sexuality, anti-Semitism, literature, death, politics, nationalism and modernity. Beyond all these, what drives the book is the exploration of memory, reflection on previous events and the way they are recalled. In a large sense the protagonist isn't so much the main character as an individual but rather the memories of that person and the way they play themselves out. It's here that the immense length of the account works as a virtue rather than a flaw, providing a real sense of scale in depicting the mental relation to externality. It's a very wide ranging account and provides a real feeling into the experience of decades, offering a work highly condesnsed yet feeling solid enough in its arching over a whole lifetime. For lare segments this recollection seems to be hijacked by the biography of other people the protagonist encounters, giving substantive detail on their own ambitions, successes and failure.
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