Introduction

This blog began at my other one, called Bookishness, but it soon took over that blog to the exclusion of people who might want to read about something other than Proust. So I am migrating those entries over here.

This is a journal of my efforts to read Proust's In Search of Lost Time at the rate of at least ten pages a day. I discovered that making my commitment public and documentable worked. Although my previous attempts usually bogged down somewhere in the middle of Swann's Way, making blog entries forced me to focus on what I was reading and to discipline myself to keep at it.

Now, it's not that Proust is "hard" (although he's sometimes obscure and arch) or that his world is alien to us (although his literary allusions and historical references need lots of footnotes) or even that the book is long (which even though it's a collection of individual novels, it indisputably is). Joyce is hard; the world of Dickens is not ours; War and Peace is long. And yet I've managed to get through those novels. Proust challenges us in other ways: He can go on at unconscionable length about a flower or a church; some of his characters don't snap sharply in focus but gradually evolve; relationships between them are often analyzed in excruciating and seemingly pointless detail; and much of the flavor of the original is undoubtedly lost in translation. He needed an editor who would iron out his inconsistencies and prod him to "get on with it."

But he rewards patience. He gives us real insight into the nature of our relationship to the past, as well as making us appreciate the moment. There is god's abundance in his characters. And he is often really laugh-outloud funny -- the most surprising thing I've learned from my trip through the Search.

As for the text, my French is not sure enough to tackle it in the original, so I've chosen the recent Penguin translation, published in America by Viking. (At least the first four volumes; the remaining ones are still held up by copyright and are available only in Britain. When I reach them, I may have to switch to the Scott Moncrieff translation if I can't order the newer ones.)

Please join me on the journey, and please comment along the way.

1 comment:

Bro -ther-K said...

Hi. I just happened upon your blog and was delighted to read your first entry. I will come back for more and hope to follow your entire Proustian journey. I'm astounded to see that you read the entire "novel" in 182 days. I've been plugging away at it for years (albeit with some serious gaps in reading) & am only just now starting The Prisoner.

Congratulations--it's quite an accomplishment.