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In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower: In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 2 (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Paperback – January 25, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Indispensable... the critical modernist work, overtop-ping the books of even such giants as Joyce and Mann. -- Peter Brooks, The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Marcel Proust (1871 1922) was a French novelist, essayist, and critic, most famous for his autobiographical series of novels, In Search of Lost Time.

Christopher Prendergast is professor emeritus of French at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of King s College and the British Academy. He is the general editor of the Penguin translation of "In Search of Lost Time".
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (January 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039075
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I originally read the Moncrieff/Kilmartin/Enright (M/K/E) translation of "A la recherche ..." some years ago, and the new Penguin translations were an excuse to re-visit these books. I thought the Lydia Davis "Swann's Way" was serviceable, but lacked some of the poetry of the earlier version. However, when I was half way through "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower" I realised that something fundamental was missing from this translation. I took out my M/K/E translation and a copy of the original in French and compared them at a few random passages. What became clear was that the new translation is not closer to the original, but is in many respects an inaccurate representation of Proust's prose. I also found at least one instance where the translator inserted an idea which was not in the original (eg there is a quite bizarre reference to "Jansenism" in a paragraph where Proust uses no such term!). Aside from this, the new translation does not, in my opinion, read smoothly. By contrast the M/K/E translation more accurately captured both the substance of Proust's writing as well as the literal meaning. Their version also reads more naturally and is far less stilted, in my opinion. I have therefore switched back to the earlier version for this volume and will have to make a similar assessment for the subsequent volumes in the series.

I am surprised by the general criticism aimed at the Moncrieff version, particularly given that the later revisions by Kilmartin and Enright remove Moncrieff's excesses and the result is one of the most successful translation projects in history. As well as the high general quality of the translations, they are also consistent across all of the volumes.
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Format: Paperback
A book of this stature hardly needs another review explaining how great it is, and, not being all that cultured, I can't provide a lot of literary context or comparisons with past translations. I can offer a recommendation, though, as a young modern lay reader who suffers the usual hesitations about approaching classic texts.

With regard to previous translations, all I know is that this volume apparently used to be called In a Budding Grove - which may be the worst literary title ever - and is now called In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, which may be the best literary title ever. As far as I can tell the translation flows very smoothly, too, and even though Proust's style, as most people probably know, features sentences which go on for a very long time and have complex constructions buried in them (sort of like this one), I thought it was more readable than the likes of Joyce and Pynchon, because the power of the first-person voice often makes the meaning clear. There were a couple of points where I thought the translator used a word that seemed too modern and idiomatic - 'hubby' was one - but it's not that much of a distraction.

Proust's habit is to spend a lot of time discussing small, specific things, but that isn't to say he describes every single event of his childhood in excruciating detail - he often skips over major events, or describes something's prelude in more detail than the event itself, summarizing the things which had the deepest emotional impact on him at the time. The result is a narrative which is very engaging because all of the details in it, however small they might be, shed light on something deeper.
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Format: Paperback
Penguin's new translations of "In Search of Lost Time" were just the nudge I needed to read Proust's masterwork again. I was particularly impressed by the job the American writer Lydia Davis did with "Swann's Way". By contrast, I have a few complaints about James Grieves's rendering of "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower". Where Scott Moncrieff translated "petite bande" (of girls) with the expected "little band," Grieves uses "little gang," which to an American ear sounds rather tough. He mangles one of my favorite quotations. And there's a typo on the bottom of page 95: "not" instead of "now"!

Overall, though, I like the liberties Grieves takes with the text, and we were certainly overdue for a freshened-up translation of one of the most important books of the 20th century. Unlike Proust's French, Scott Moncrieff's English has come to seem dusty and overblown. (For example, he rendered the title of this volume as "Within a Budding Grove", the literal translation being too racy for his 1920s audience of post-Victorians.)

-- Dan Ford at readingproust dot com
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a great and thoroughly absorbing book. Proust really captures that time in adolescence when all you can think about is romance -- you evaluate everyone you meet on the basis of their appeal to you as a romantic target. Regardless of whether or not you ever actually speak to them. If you need to skip a few paragraphs, go ahead and do so. It is worthwhile to go back and read the beginning of a long sentence to be sure you understand his point. Although I usually tear through books just to find out the ending, I am enjoying the long journey through these books. I am postponing #3 until I am on vacation and can, without guilt, sit and read Proust the whole day.
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