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In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by…

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (original 1918; edition 2004)

by Marcel Proust

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2,131263,070 (4.41)1 / 21
Title:In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower
Authors:Marcel Proust
Info:Viking Adult (2004), Hardcover, 576 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:prose fiction, Modernism

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In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower by Marcel Proust (1918)


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English (22)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Proust continues with a trip to the seaside resort of Balbek which is the backdrop for the majority of the second volume of In Search of Lost Time. It’s a volume which explores the young man as he begins to venture out into the world making relationships with his peers on his own terms, both male and female.

The style continues to be stunningly beautiful. So evocative at points that, despite the length of the entire novel and even individual sentences, you find yourself wanting to re-read sections just because you know there is more there than you can take in on first reading. Check out some of the quotes below which I collected along the way.

What did I learn? Again, as with the first volume, I was encouraged how many hopes, fears and relational longings Proust and I shared as we grew into adulthood. I learned that even a genius like Proust, who was the last person in history who would be stuck for a way to capture anything in a description that captures its essence, even he can’t

fathom women. Ha! So, now I don’t feel so stupid after all.

Two key relationships begin in this novel, one with a young man and one with a young woman. The man is Robert de Saint-Loup, a dashing army officer who is the outward-going counterpart to our narrator’s shy and observant caution. The woman is Albertine Simonet who plays a far less central role in this volume than does Gilberte in volume 1 and yet who has a far deeper influence on our hero. This is an influence that will be felt, I believe, in volumes to come.

So, I enjoyed this for its description of the transition from adolescence to adulthood, for the characters that play through the pages and, most of all, for the sublime use of language from Proust. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jun 14, 2014 |
Before I'd even gotten more than half way into this volume, it inspired me to write, in gratitude for the pleasure it had already given me, this blog post: On the unsuspected joys of Proust

And this is from the context, I should say, of someone who, while loving the other modernists she'd read, was not really looking forward to Proust, thinking he'd be stuffy, overly romantic, and reactionary. Well, was I wrong. I'm hooked. There are hills and valleys in this long, long journey, but there are so many great vistas, I'm looking forward to traveling on. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
The second book in Proust's series In Search of Lost Time involves our narrator contemplating art in its various forms - writing, painting, acting. He is trying to discover what it is that makes works great, and is at that age when two things happen: 1, you have started to develop some taste, so you find yourself for the first time faced with things you thought you would like, but didn't, and 2, you start wondering if other people are seeing something you're missing, or if they're just toeing the party line on what is great so that they don't seem like Philistines. It's an interesting theme, of course investigated from all angles.

The narrator is, predictably, also contemplating girls. The first book left him infatuated with Gilberte Swann, and we see a sort of resolution of that entanglement here. Then he goes to the seaside at Balbec and is intrigued by a group of girls who wander together and look like they're having a lot of fun. The changeable nature of adolescent love comes to the forefront, and Proust pokes at the idea that at that age, you're just looking for someone to be in love with. Circumstances can play a bigger part in actually falling in love than any quality of the loved one.

Not much happens in the way of plot, of course, but I think this is an intriguing book for the time period it covers in the narrator's life. So much happens in these awkward years internally, and there are episodes where the narrator seems impossibly childish, then quite grown up, then so completely unsure of himself that I am saying out loud, "what a dolt" in reaction to something he does. It's full of warmth, humor, nostalgia, and the confusion over what might be going on in other people's heads. It has solidified my desire to keep going with this series.

Recommended for: people who remember being a teenager, people who realize that every generation throughout history has said "Kids these days!"

Quote: "So it is that a well-read man will at once begin to yawn with boredom when one speaks to him of a new "good book," because he imagines a sort of composite of all the good books that he has read, whereas a good book is something special, something unforeseeable, and is made up not of the sum of all previous masterpieces but of something which the most thorough assimilation of every one of them would not enable him to discover, since it exists not in their sum but beyond it." ( )
  ursula | Apr 22, 2014 |

I finished the second book of In Search of Lost Time over Thanksgiving weekend, and I was struck by its deliberate pace.

The Victorians move their books slowly, and I dislike them for that. Dickens in particular is a long jangle of plot twists that never seem to go anywhere, but Austen and the Brontes, too, move at a snail's pace. There are twenty thousand words for every action.

Proust moves even more slowly, but I enjoy it more. It's not the slowness of action and inaction filling the page, it's that he fills every page with thoughts. What is the narrator thinking, what does he think the person he's talking to is thinking, what is that person actually thinking, and then finally, what do they say to each other?

It's an extraordinary novel, but at times it feels like an exercise. In the same way that Joyce challenges his readers to keep up with him (spattering his pages with references to Greek mythology and the Latin mass), Proust seems to challenge the reader to follow him down the rabbit hole into his own head. His passages on memory and longing for the possible strike me the most.

I'm thankful I have an edition with key plot points summarized, because otherwise I might have become hopelessly lost in the unclear passage of time. ( )
  jscape2000 | Jan 10, 2014 |
bookshelves: autumn-2013, series, fradio, france, published-1918, bellybutton-mining
Read on November 14, 2013

Marcel recalls the awakening of passion and his painful transition from boy to man. Stars James Wilby and Imogen Stubbs.

Listen here

'Why does everybody like this?'

Found this bed-head notcher to be more interesting than Swann's Way; it is a little more structured, however the repetitions, with just a little deviation each time, can either be wearisome or one can let oneself just immerse.

2* Swann's Way
2.5* Within a Budding Grove ( )
  mimal | Jan 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (113 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proust, Marcelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beretta Anguissola, AlbertoContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Maria, LucianoEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enright, D.J.Translation revisionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galateria, DariaContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, TerenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raboni, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salinas, PedroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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När monsieur de Norpois första gången skulle bjudas hem på middag till oss, uttryckte min mor sitt beklagande dels över att professor Gottard befann sig på resa, dels över att hon själv helt upphört att umgås med Swann, ty såväl den ene som den andre skulle säkerligen ha intresserat den före detta ambassadören - men min far svarade att en utomordentligt angenäm bordsgäst och berömd vetenskapsman som Cottard alltid var ett välkommet tillskott vid ett middagsbord, medan Swann med sitt självsäkra sätt och sin vana att skryta med alla bekantskaper var en vulgär bluffmakare, som markis de Norpois med all säkerhet skulle ha betecknat som en "högfärdsblåsa".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143039075, Paperback)

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower is Proust’s spectacular dissection of male and female adolescence, charged with the narrator’s memories of Paris and the Normandy seaside. At the heart of the story lie his relationships with his grandmother and with the Swann family. As a meditation on different forms of love, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower has no equal. Here, Proust introduces some of his greatest comic inventions, from the magnificently dull M. de Norpois to the enchanting Robert de Saint-Loup. It is memorable as well for the first appearance of the two figures who for better or worse are to dominate the narrator’s life—the Baron de Charlus and the mysterious Albertine.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:32 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A definitive new translation of the second volume of In Search of Lost Time captures the intricacies and challenges of male and female adolescence and awakening love, based on the narrator's reminiscences about Paris and the Normandy coast.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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