As may have become clear from my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I’m rereading IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME. To be honest, lately I’ve felt emotionally disconnected from most of the things I’ve been reading–I’ve abandoned multiple books halfway through–and this is one of the few things that has held my attention. I think this is because Proust’s appeal is not, to me, primarily emotional. Although there is plenty of emotion in the work, the mindset is so analytical and the narration is so distant. The work isn’t about feeling, it’s about trying to feel.
The first time I read the series was in 2011, when I was 25. That time I read the six volumes in the course of about seven months (with time in between to read other things). This time I’m doing it differently. I’m going to read all six volumes in succession, and my plan is to get through them in about a month.
The shocking thing about ISOLT is the extent to which it really is one cohesive whole. Characters, motifs, and events recur throughout the work, and it doesn’t really give much leeway to the fallibility of human memory. Last time I read it through I definitely found myself struggling, by the end, to remember some of the earlier events. I’m hoping that a shorter timeframe will this time help everything gel much better.
Oh, the other difference is that last time I read the new Penguin translations (where each book had a different translator), whereas this time I’m reading the 1990s Enright revision of the 1980s Kilmartin revision of the classic 1920s Moncrieff translation. Not sure what a difference this will make, but this is the one that was recommended to me by one of my Hopkins professors.
Anyways, I finished SWANN’S WAY yesterday, and I have thoughts!!! But I will share them tomorrow. Right now am reading WITHIN A BUDDING GROVE. To be honest, the first two volumes are great but they are not my favorites. I think the best are the third, THE GUERMANTES WAY, the fourth, SODOM AND GOMORRAH, and the sixth, FINDING TIME AGAIN, so I feel like this read through will only get better as it goes on.