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For this complete, authoritative English language edition, D J Enright has revised the late Terence Kilmartin s acclaimed reworking of C K Scott Moncrieff s translation to take into account the new definitive French editions of la recherche du temps perdu the final volume of these new editions was published by the Biblioth que de la Pl iade in I read the whole damn thing, for which I feel like demanding a medal A famous quote about this work goes, I may be thicker skinned than most, but I just can t understand why anyone should take thirty pages to describe how he tosses about in bed because he can t get to sleep I clutched my head I heartily agree Nor do I like dinner parties that take longer to read about than they took to occur The main problem with Proust and his admirers is that they are convinced that the French aristocr I read the whole damn thing, for which I feel like demanding a medal A famous quote about this work goes, I may be thicker skinned than most, but I just can t understand why anyone should take thirty pages to describe how he tosses about in bed because he can t get to sleep I clutched my head I heartily agree Nor do I like dinner parties that take longer to read about than they took to occur The main problem with Proust and his admirers is that they are convinced that the French aristocracy, with all their trivial concerns and all their trivial conversations, were actually interesting In reality, they were very dull and conventional people One of Proust s friends actually said that to him, but Proust was too status struck to listen.The only character in the books I liked was Charles Morel, because he screwed everyone over and treated them like dirt By the time I finished, I thought they deserved him When you read Proust, and learn to appreciate his extraordinary, dreamy, hypnotic, truly inimitable style this review is a mere shadow on the wall of a Platonic cave , which succeeds in making the syntax of language, usually as invisible as air, into a tangible element, so that, like literary yogis, we may feel, for the first time, how enjoyable the simple activity of reading, like breathing, can be and discover the delights of sentences which took the author days to construct and us an hour t When you read Proust, and learn to appreciate his extraordinary, dreamy, hypnotic, truly inimitable style this review is a mere shadow on the wall of a Platonic cave , which succeeds in making the syntax of language, usually as invisible as air, into a tangible element, so that, like literary yogis, we may feel, for the first time, how enjoyable the simple activity of reading, like breathing, can be and discover the delights of sentences which took the author days to construct and us an hour to read, unpacking layers of subordinate clauses to discover, nestling inside their crisp folds, a simile as unexpected and delicious as a Swiss chocolate rabbit, wearing a yellow marzipan waistcoat and carrying an edible rake, found in its cocoon of tissue paper under a lilac bush during a childhood Easter egg hunt or, steaming across the calm waters of a limpid grammatical lake in the capable hands of Captain Marcel and his crew, confident that they know the route from generations of experience, and will in due time, exactly on schedule, arrive at the main verb, pointing us tourists to it with justifiable, understated pride then you will gradually come to identify with the alchemical author, spending twenty years sitting, propped up by pillows, in his velvet dressing gown, transmuting the lead of his accumulated experience into gold, surrounded by galley proofs which he constantly rereads and revises, pasting in a parenthesis in the middle of this sentence, an apposition in that, so that the papers are gradually festooned, like bizarre Christmas decorations, with loops and curlicues of afterthoughts and waiting for life, his unfaithful mistress, to leave him, simultaneously knowing that it is inevitable, and also that she will never do so, at least as long as this, the greatest and strangest of all novels, is still not quite finished Why did Proust have to write a 4000 page novel, especially when there is not any discernable, coherent plot Was it really necessary to have those extended society scenes, some of which lasted for 150 pages or so Couldn t the whole thing have been tightened up a little and cut down to 1000 pages or so I asked myself these questions at various points over the nine months it took me to journey through Proust s masterpiece It was not until the final two volumes and particularly the latter half Why did Proust have to write a 4000 page novel, especially when there is not any discernable, coherent plot Was it really necessary to have those extended society scenes, some of which lasted for 150 pages or so Couldn t the whole thing have been tightened up a little and cut down to 1000 pages or so I asked myself these questions at various points over the nine months it took me to journey through Proust s masterpiece It was not until the final two volumes and particularly the latter half of Time Regained that it all started to make sense The point Proust is trying to make can only be experienced as opposed to realized intellectually if you have plodded through the seemingly endless series of anecdotes, asides and philosophical musings Proust is trying to tell us how the experiences of our past slip away from our memory and, as such, no longer have any obvious impact on us In some cases, i.e sexual jealousy and grief , this is a good thing, lest the pain of these losses would forever burden us But it also isolates us from those moments of pleasure, of experiencing pure beauty We can try, through the vehicle of voluntary memory to retrieve the good old days but we will get nothingthan a snapshot, and will not feel the experience of what it was really like in those moments The only way to recapture lost time, Proust tells us, is through the involuntary memories that spontaneously arise from random sensory input the taste of a madeleine soaked in tea, the experience of standing on uneven paving stones, the clang of a spoon against a dish as it triggers the memories of the last time we experienced the same sensations along with the other physical and emotional sensations with which the catalytic sensation is associated The experience of these sensations is actually of a purer form than we experienced when they happened to us the first time, because they are not impeded by all the other competing stimuli that were impinging on us at the time At the time, for example, we may have been disappointed that this resort was not exactly what we had in mind, we may have been worried about the health of a loved one, we might be distracted by concerns of our professional careers In this moment of recapturing the past, all that comes to us is the unadulterated form of the experience of pleasure Of course, this is a pretty unreliable mechanism to tap into our past and, as Proust shows, it is fleeting as well The only way to recapture the past in a lasting way is through the creation of a work of art which is where the book comes in How does a writer depict an experience which is eventually forgotten, and is then perfectly recaptured years later Well, you have to help the reader have the experience of long stretches of time, of the entirety of a long life lived, complete with all the hundreds of people and experiences and moments of inspiration and self doubt that come with it When, in the last pages of Time Regained, Proust describes the incident of the good night kiss one of the earliest episodes of the book , I felt like this did occur 40 years ago, given how long ago I read it And, as Proust, through his magnificent prose lovingly reconstructed the scene, it came back to me with the full force of his original description He had succeeded in helping me recapture this literary event, and how beautiful the experience of it was I certainly don t want to try to compete with the length of In Search of Lost Time itself with this review, so let me conclude quickly Please, if you have any interest at all in serious literature, do not be thrown off by the length of this book It is an unparalleled work of genius for which, as I hope I have argued successfully above, the length is an essential element If you make the commitment, you will be rewarded I took today off work because I need to put everything I own into boxes so I can move tomorrow, but obviously I can t begin doing that until I get some of these obsessive thoughts about Proust out of my system I mean, can I Nope I can t After all, this house is where I read Proust wait, I read Swann s Way before I moved here, which is pretty nuts to think about and so how can I move without reviewing the whole thing I do feel pretty traumatized after finishing this book Sort of shells I took today off work because I need to put everything I own into boxes so I can move tomorrow, but obviously I can t begin doing that until I get some of these obsessive thoughts about Proust out of my system I mean, can I Nope I can t After all, this house is where I read Proust wait, I read Swann s Way before I moved here, which is pretty nuts to think about and so how can I move without reviewing the whole thing I do feel pretty traumatized after finishing this book Sort of shellshocked and confused with all these half formed thoughts and intense inexplicable feelings bouncing around in me, and I don t know what to do with them or myself Yesterday I wound up sitting in my friend s bar explaining Proust s aesthetic theories, but that kind of behavior ll get you kicked out of most places, and is not really becoming a young lady And obviously that s where this website comes in what is it for, if not to unload just this kind of mental baggage Reading Proust made me wish I wereof a scholar, so I could try to puzzle out some kind of literary context for what this book is I feel like people think of Proust as being stuffy and old fashioned and all crusty and ancient, but I think a lot of that has to do with the subject matter a lost time with superficial resemblance to Jane Austen s milieu , so it s kind of shocking to remember what else was going on while he was writing this I know this is dumb and there re much better comparisons, but I kept thinking while reading this that it was like thinking your whole life that New York punk in the seventies was all about the Ramones and imagining you really got what was going on then from just listening to that but then when you re in your mid twenties someone suddenly plays you Television for the first time, and you re like whatLike you think you know what modernism is, it s like Ulysses or whatever, but then you find out it s got this completely insane cousin across the river who s just doing all these things that appear at first to have no relationship at all to everything you ignorantly thought you kind of understood at least a little bit before Again, I m not much of a scholar and what I m saying probably doesn t make any sense To be honest, I don t even know what modernism means, I just know it sounds literary I think what I m trying to get at is that the relevance of Proust s concerns to his time aren t immediately obvious because his approach to them initially seems so weird and unfamiliar But then you realize, while you re in it, that Proust is actually so much of his time it s incredible, and that what he s saying and doing was hugely innovative and exciting at the beginning of the last century, and actually, I d say, remains as much so today And I just kind of wish that I knewabout art and literature and whatnot so I could tie it all in better, since I sense there re all these fascinating connections and reference points, but I don t know what they are I d sort of like to sneak into some college class or something where they re reading Proust, and listen in, or at least steal their syllabus do they even read Proust in college I feel like they don t I mean, I never heard of him when I was in college, or after I really hadn t I honestly had no idea who Proust was until I started hanging out on this website.Anyway, for me the most relevant contemporary writer I thought of while reading this wasn t a novelist A little background I always really loathed the discipline of psychology and thought it was stupid When I unwittingly enrolled in social work school, I was dismayed to discover that getting my MSW involved reading pages and pages of precisely this stuff I d always looked down on My happy discovery was that Freud, at least, was actually a fabulous writer, and a lot of his ideas are totally fascinating and very beautiful What I realized finally is that I just resented psychology for its pretension of pretending it s a science But actually psychology s concerns and sometimes even their expression are hugely significant among the most significant and kind of wonderful In fact, I decided, I love psychology, as long as it knows its place and realizes it s an art, not a science Freud said he wanted his case histories to read like short stories, so I think he understood this Proust, of course, took this to an extreme, by exploring essentially the same territory, not in a short story, but in an extraordinarily long and in some ways kind of ridiculous novel In Search of Lost Time is about the development of the mind, the experience of consciousness, the influence of past events and relationships on one s emotions and behavior all the same stuff Freud cared about, only it madesense to me here, presented this way.I completely lost my shit reading the last couple pages of this book, and broke down on some fundamental level in a way I imagine was akin to what you can get from really top shelf psychotherapy Towards the end of the book, Proust explains everything he s been trying to do, and just did, in writing this novel It s his theory of art and specifically of literature, and it s pretty hard to argue with since you ve watched him just do it One of the things that Proust says is that readers of his book would not be my readers but readers of themselves, my book serving merely as a sort of magnifying glass, such as the optician of Combray used to offer to a customer, so that through my book I would give them the means of reading in their own selves p 384 I guess that could sound unexciting, ripped out of context, but he really does do this, and it truly is astounding I felt throughly convinced by Proust s theory of what art is for, and as far as I m concerned he was totally successful in accomplishing his aims Like psychotherapy, ISoLT attempts to dive into the murk of the unconscious past to retrieve experiences and cognitions that have become inaccessible Proust dives in and swims down to the bottom, and he finds them, and he grabs them, and he brings them back up and then hands them to you Which is pretty nuts I mean, it s intense I feel fucked up from it.Hm I thought I wanted to talk about this book, but maybe I just want to pack up my shit after all I really do want to review this book, but maybe it s too soon It s a really insane novel, and there s tons of stuff in it I d really love to dork out about on here but yeah, maybe too soon I might come back and say somethingcoherent later on, when it s all settled down a bit.I guess the only thing I need to add right at this moment is that I really felt like Proust gave me this particular combination of the things I need most I really can t read anything too difficult or serious, and to anyone who s considering giving Proust a try I can t emphasize this enough forget what you heard this book is anything but a ponderous drag It s silly and hilarious and smart and bizarre, and there s tons of fashion and sex and depravity and satire and insane plot twists that don t make any sense I personally have a very short attention span and I cannot and do not read anything that isn t vastly entertaining In Search of Lost Time is VASTLY ENTERTAINING Except for The Captive, which is only somewhat entertaining This is not to say that it s for everyone, and I can see how lots of people would totally hate this HOWEVER it s definitely worth a shot, because this book could change your life I mean that It could I m a completely different person now than I was when I started So what if this means I m now an obsessively jealous, elitist, antisemitic, agoraphobic pervert who speaks exclusively in run on sentences I think I m better for it, and you might be too