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Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove (Vintage) Paperback – August 12, 1982
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Buy the Moncrieff translation.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read in the past. I wanted to complete my 3 volumes. Great read. Take time and enjoy France and Proust's way of describing France in the 1850's. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Happy Camper
In advance, I apologize to all Proust lovers.
I read Flaubert's "Madam Bovary" and was genuinely impressed. Read more
Marcel Proust is famous for writing long sentences, so this can be a difficult read. However, this is a book that is begging to be read over and over again. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mark F. Robb
Was Proust addicted to methamphetamine? That's a serious question. If you're interested in a challenging and rewarding book, read Being and Time. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Dasein
Let it never be said that I shy away from a challenge (at least from a literary standpoint, I'm not about to go punching bears or anything). Read morePublished 18 months ago by Michael Battaglia
Extremely thorough notes for which the serious student will be grateful. The translation, however, is only adequate: it cannot match John Ciardi's version, which remains, after... Read morePublished 18 months ago by EZ
I have a rule not to read classics in translation. There are plenty of great books written in English yet to tackle. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Randall L. Wilson