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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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2,200272,948 (4.4)1 / 23
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 (23)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
(There are no "spoilers," I promise.)

Madame Swann at Home

a new Swann; a new Cottard — "fashions change, being themselves begotten of the desire for change" — the Marquis de Norpois — Berma in Phèdre — "the cruel anxiety of the seeker after truth" — "But when one believes in the reality of things, making them visible by artificial means is not quite the same as feeling that they are close at hand" — the literary life; the value of shares — Françoise; Michelangelo — King Theodosius — Mme. Swann's salon — "archduchess or prostitute" — Bergotte's aesthetic influence — "In theory one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can rest assured. So it is with Time in one's life." — Françoise's aspic — new year; new friendship with Gilberte — "Our desires cut across one another, and in this confused existence it is rare for happiness to coincide with the desire that clamoured for it" — the beloved's face — water-closets; fevers — "And we realised that this imbecile was a great physician" — "I asked myself whether there was not an existence altogether different from the one I knew, in direct contradiction to it, but itself the real one" — chez Swann — gâteaux; livres — appropriated mannerisms and expressions — Mme. Swann's "day" — Albertine: "She's certain to be dreadfully 'fast' when she's older, but meanwhile she's an odd fish" — "like a kaleidoscope which is every now and then given a turn, society arranges successively in different orders elements which one would have supposed immutable, and composes a new pattern" — confusing royalties — the Cottards and the Bontemps — love; fear — "in the company of orchids, roses and violets" — "that anxiety ... which destroys in us, in the presence of the person we love, the sensation of loving" — Vinteuil's "little phrase" — "And we shall love it longer than the rest because we have taken longer to get to love it" — art and posterity — Mme. Blatin and the Singhalese — objects; meanings; souls — the Zoological Gardens — Princess Mathilde — "as though [English] had been a secret language known to our two selves alone" — Odette's Anglomania — Bergotte's name (and nose); the Narrator's name — carnations in buttonholes — Bergottism — genius; mirrors; power — on Berma's Phèdre — "A powerful idea communicates some of its power to the man who contradicts it" — "a prophetic warning" of "the danger of that kind of love" — Gilberte as a composite Mélusine — "a single intelligence of which everyone is a co-tenant" —"Nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect" — brothels and Jews and "Rachel when from the Lord" — "our memory does not as a rule present things to us in their chronological sequence" — "There can be no peace of mind in love, since what one has obtained is never anything but a new starting-point for further desires" — unknown languages; sealed fortresses — contradictory severance letters — the third Gilberte — Mme Swann's flowers — five-o'clock tea — "Dear Mme Verdurin is not always very kind about other people's flowers" — electricity; telephones — "When we are in love, our love is too big a thing for us to be able altogether to contain it within ourselves" — renunciation — "regret, like desire, seeks not to analyse but to gratify itself" — when what is "smart" becomes what is "trashy" — the charm of a Botticelli — the colors of Mme Swann's at-home dresses — 10,000 francs — two strollers in the Avenue des Champs-Élysées — "the healing effect of isolation" — interpreting dreams — "The person whom we love is to be recognised only by the intensity of the pain that we suffer" — letters; lies; the past tense — Mme Swann's parasol

Place-Names: The Place

"It is our noticing them that puts things in a room, our growing used to them that takes them away again and clears a space for us" — three knocks on the adjoining wall — habit; new bedrooms; lofty ceilings — "it is the light that displaces and situates the undulations of the sea" — the guests at the Grand Hotel — Mme de Villeparisis, "the most powerful of fairies" — Françoise's friends —"those peculiar places, railway stations... those marvellous places, railway stations" — "those who love and those who enjoy are not always the same" — "the enraptured traveller Ruskin speaks of" — reading Mme de Sévigné on the train — a milk-girl, beauty, and happiness — Balbec Church and the Virgin of the Porch — the Grand Hotel — "the horror of my own nonentity" — the Princesse de Luxembourg and a loaf of rye bread — "a carriage which reeked of harlot a mile away" — carriage rides; young girls in flower —"our desire for people ... is the only kind that leads to anxiety" — three trees — Chateaubriand on moonlight's melancholy — "a creature of habit" — Saint-Loup — "adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything" — a Jewish colony — Bloch contre Ruskin; the "lighft-boy" — human kindness; defects — "we ought at least, from prudence, never to speak of ourselves, because that is a subject on which we may be sure that other people's views are never in accordance with our own" — Baron de Charlus's gaze; a memory of Tansonville — the Guermantes: "in that family they change their names as often as their shirts" — Charlus's "obsession with virility"; an awkward tea — "A photograph acquires something of the dignity which it ordinarily lacks when it ceases to be a reproduction of reality and shows us things that no longer exist" — the Baron; a book of Bergotte's; the narrator's bedroom — "in the state of mind in which we 'observe' we are a long way below the level to which we rise when we create" — dinner at the Blochs — Saint-Loup's mistress — "the wall which remained silent" — "I was going through one of those phases of youth ... in which at all times and in all places ... we desire, we seek, we see Beauty" — "the little band" of jeunes filles — "a girl with brilliant, laughing eyes and plump, matte cheeks" — "To strip our pleasures of imagination is to reduce them to their own dimensions, that is to say to nothing" — "a mirage of desire" — "aristocracy is a relative thing" — the name Simonet — seascapes; sunsets; Whistler's Harmony in Grey and Pink — Dreyfus; a change of season; Rivebelle — "Perhaps some of the greatest masterpieces were written while yawning" — too much port; music; seductiveness — "two separate bouquets that had exchanged a few of their flowers" — love; inebriation — "we say that we often see animals in our dreams, but we forget that almost always we are ourselves animals therein" — sleep; waking; "the shipwreck of my nervous storms" — Elstir, the famous painter — "The most exclusive love for a person is always a love for something else" — Elstir's studio; art fostering immortality — the blurred boundaries between sky and sea, land and sea — "If a little day-dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time" — the name Albertine — ambiguous gender; Elstir's portrait of Miss Sacripant — "The particulars of life do not matter to the artist; they merely provide him with the opportunity to lay bare his genius" — states of consciousness; the evolutions of those whom we love — multiple Albertines — "We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves" — railway stations; invitations; letters; "the profundities of 'still life'" — "Pleasure ... is like photography" — meeting Albertine — a beauty mark: fluid then fixed — Octave; the Mlles d'Ambresac; Andrée; Gisèle; Rosemonde — "it was their flowering-time" — successive loves and their similarities — women's fashion — the Creuniers cliffs; picnicking — "Loving helps us to discern, to discriminate" — girls' voices — "The individual is steeped in something more general than himself" — je t'aime — Gisèle's letter from Sophocles to Racine — "every fresh glimpse is a sort of rectification, which brings us back to what we in fact saw" — a game of ferret; hands; hawthorn — "the selfish angle which is that of love" — "the photo-telephone of the future: the visual image ... clearly outlined in the sound" — bedrooms; an urge to kiss; the ringing of bells — Albertine in society: "killing several birds with one stone" — "Oh, you men!" — interchangeability — "when studying faces, we do indeed measure them, but as painters, not surveyors" — multiple selves; darkened rooms; departure ( )
  proustitute | Jul 17, 2014 |
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 |
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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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Meine Mutter hatte, als davon die Rede war, zum erstenmal Monsieur de Norpois zu uns zum Abendessen zu bitten, ihr Bedauern ausgedrückt, daß Professor Cottard auf Reisen sei und daß sie den Verkehr mit Swann ihrerseits abgebrochen habe, denn beide hätten zweifellos den ehemaligen Botschafter interessiert
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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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