Everyone knows that Proust is one of those literary mountains we want to climb, but do we have the stamina? We know it’s a semi autobiographical story of childhood , youth and the maturation of an artist --narrated as a recollection. One of the great literary evocations of love, desire and loss. Thus the title In Search of Lost Time . But in six volumes: who has the time? Those long spiraling sentences that feel like paragraphs! The cast of hundreds! The dense cultural context of belle epoque France! Philosophical resonances on the nature of memory, the power of music and art, the paradoxes of erotic desire! Nothing is linear, but thematically it is seamlessly orchestrated.
We will read Swann’s Way (which includes the childhood recollections of the village “Combray” and the portrait of the older family friend in “Swann in Love.”) Swann’s Way works as overture to the multivolume whole, but it also stands alone. Reading takes some getting used to, but once you are hooked, it is addictive!
1. Introduction: Proust’s World
2. Introducing Combray, pp 1-65. On Memory. Mother’s goodnight kiss
3. Combray Revealed, pp 65-123. The Village, the Church, its Inhabitants
4. The family circle: Aunt Leonie, Francoise, Legrandin,pp 124-188
5. Village Walks: the Meseglise Way and the Guermantes’ Way, pp 188-264
6 The Verdurins’ salon; Swann meets Odette, pp 265-310
7. Courtship and consummation: pp 310-356
8. Enter the rival, Fourcheville: pp 356-405
9. Jealousy, quarrels, “love is an illness” pp 405-457
10. Society party; the “belle monde” pp 45-501
11. The end of the affair pp 502-543
12. “Place names” p 545-606
13. Proustian Themes: final questions, comments, discussions
In Search of Lost Time, Volume 1: Swann’s Way.
First published in French in 1913.
Translation of Moncrieff, Kilmartin and Enright. Based on the French Pleiade edition of 1954-1989. 2003 Modern Library Paperbacks.
There is an Audible audio unabridged edition of this volume read by John Roe
Roger Shattuck. Proust’s Way: a Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time
New York, 2000
Andre Aciman, The Proust Project . New York 2004
William C Carter. Marcel Proust: a Life. Yale,2000, 2013 (2nd edition)
Edmund White, Marcel Proust. Penguin Lives, Viking 199
Celeste Albaret. Monsieur Proust. Trans Barbara Bray . NYR Books, 1976
Specialized Works (this is a highly selective , partial and personal list)
Eric Karpeles, Paintings in Proust.Thames and Hudson 2008
Arthjur D. Trottenberg. A Vision of Paris. 1963
Anka Muhlstein. Monsieur Proust’s Library. Other Press, 2013
Bernard Strauss, The Maladies of Marcel Proust 1980
Phyllis Ross. The Year of Reading Proust : A Memoir in Real Time
Lorenza Foschini. Proust’s Overcoat. Trans Eric Karpeles. 2010
Caroline Weber, Proust’s Duchess: How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Fin-de-siecle Paris. Knopf 2018
The Visual Proust
Swann in Love. Film starring Jeremy Irons
Le Temps Retrouve. Film by Raul Ruiz
The Fugitive. (French film)
There is a German film, Celeste, which looks at Proust’s life from point of view of his devoted housekeeper
There is a French TV miniseries where narrator is played by a woman. 2011.
Stephene Heuet has done a graphic novel adaptation of Within a Budding Grove
Two short films and a CD by musicians Maria and Nathalie Milstein reprise candidates for the musical Proust’s composerVinteiul and his “little phrase”