In Search of Lost Time : Swann's Way Swann's Way v.1, Paperback

In Search of Lost Time : Swann's Way Swann's Way v.1 Paperback

2 out of 5 (1 rating)


This is an acclaimed, fully revised edition of the Scott Moncrieff and Kilmartin translation.

In the opening volume of Proust's great novel, the narrator travels backwards in time in order to tell the story of a love affair that had taken place before his own birth.

Swann's jealous love for Odette provides a prophetic model of the narrator's own relationships.

All Proust's great themes - time and memory, love and loss, art and the artistic vocation - are here in kernel form.




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Volume 1 of Proust's door stopper In Search of Lost Time, which belongs in a genre of its own. Proust records, in great detail, his thoughts and emotions from the past (while not intended to be autobiographical, the detail clearly comes from his personal experiences). I find the result to be uneven. The first part covers reflections of childhood memories, including the famous "madeleine moment" where flavour and aroma triggers a strong and possibly involuntary response bringing a long forgotten memory to the surface. But, he does go on. And on. Then follows the even longer account of Swann's love affair with a courtesan - a bizarre, stunted relationship that has little to do with genuine romantic love (was this based on any of Proust's relationships?). While most of this (very) long section is given in reflective summary, toward the end Proust goes into gorgeous detail of one evening social event attended by Swann. It is wonderfully descriptive, but why the change of style and content? Who knows? The volume closes with a first person account of a juvenile love affair (with Swann's daughter) - perhaps intended as a counterpoint to Swann's affair, but the authenticity of the children's relationship made the adult affair of Swann even more odd by comparison. So, in summary, interesting self-reflection on memory and emotion, along with dubious adult relationships. I'm glad I have read this, but I didn't enjoy it much. Read November 2011.