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Time Regained by Marcel Proust
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Time Regained (1927)

by Marcel Proust

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: In Search of Lost Time (Book 7)

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English (11)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Finally, finally, finally; after reading about 10 pages a day for an entire year, In Search of Lost Time is read. I will never, ever read it again but I am definitely glad I read it. I can now lift my head high in the company of others who have climbed Everest and been to the South Pole. Maybe slightly higher actually.

The final volume of the novel is both a reflection on life lived as well as a return to the 100-page musings on a single sliver of life that are characteristic of the earliest volumes.

In a departure from the others which are a continuous thread of time, the seventh installment dances through a few eras in the narrator’s life culminating with yet another dinner party at the Guermantes’ place. In arriving there, he slips on an uneven flagstone and the universe parts in homage as he reflects on this for what seems like an eternity. There are bits worth reading in there, but quite honestly, it’s all getting a bit tired. If at this point you are counting pages off like a prisoner marking the
walls of his cell, I don’t think you have anything at all to feel guilty about. And if you meet someone at a dinner party of your own and they baulk at your confession of this, you can take some comfort in the fact that, had Proust met this person, he no doubt would have parodied their elitism by using them as the basis for a character from the Guermantes’ set.

The entire novel is, quite obviously, a masterpiece written by a genius. It is loaded with perceptive observations of the world we inhabit and, more importantly, how we inhabit it and in terms of the sheer scale of its achievement it deserves a place on the podium of award-winning literature.

That said, it’s not going in the Arukiyomi hall of fame, and let me tell you why.

It’s bloody hard to read, that’s why. In parts (and those parts are hundreds, not tens, of pages long) it’s exceedingly boring. While Proust is able to turn a slip on a paving stone or the touch of a Madeleine to the tongue into the most mesmeric meditations, he seems unable to reign in a propensity for verbosity when it comes to relating conversations.

And the book is crammed full of conversations, particularly at meaningless parties or soirees at salons where the social elite get together and glance at the few only so slightly above them or, mostly, down on the masses below. These conversations are utterly futile and, if you are supposed to get the point that such social gatherings were, in themselves, utterly futile, you pick that up in the first ten pages. You don’t need thousands of pages to make that point. Either Proust does, or he thinks we do.

I can recall many memorable descriptions of things: cakes, flowers, the sea, hair, sleep, stones, sound, relationships. But I cannot recall one single conversation that any of the characters had in 3800 pages of writing. Every now and then, a character might say something pithy or worth noting. But “every now and then” in Proust means every 500 pages. Don’t hold your breath.

It seems such a shame that someone who is such a genius could not cobble together some great conversation in his literature. But then, if he had done, would we mere mortals have been able to reach the summit of what is, despite its faults, lofty literature? Probably not.

But there is something more problematic for me. One of the most famous quotes from the entire novel I can paraphrase as ‘it is not new places we need to see but to see with new eyes.’ But the problem with this philosophy as Proust applies it, quite literally at length, is that eyes that are new have not yet learned how to focus. Not only that, but new eyes have not yet gained the experience to allow them to see things in perspective. Thus, throughout this volume just as throughout the previous six, a flagstone and a world war are given fairly equal treatment.

So, it is with joy that I finish this review knowing that I have scaled the mountain, reached the summit and now find myself free to rest my aching limbs in the soft rolling verdant valleys of slimmer volumes. Whatever I read, it will not tax me to the same extent again. That’s a good feeling. Thanks for the workout Marcel. ( )
1 vote arukiyomi | Feb 27, 2015 |
My clearest memory of reading Swann's Way consists of pouring over one of the large illustrations, softly colored and darkly lit and so much more interesting than the Biomaterials lecture I was sitting in, an aisle-edged seat that necessitated swift cover ups from the professor's gaze as well as ensured a swift getaway at the ring of the bell. Now, I am at the close of eleven months on, more than three hundred miles away from the beginning and likely to never join in on such a high and mighty science lecture ever again. Older, and wiser, I would hope, but as the latter lacks as much concreteness that stuffs the former to a painfully nostalgic brim, I will leave it to others to determine that particular note.

I had been wondering whether I would need two reviews, one for the parcel and one for the whole, but this is Proust. Forty two hundred pages and counting, an author that died before the work had ripened into a fully snipped and spliced together piece, and still it all comes together. The color, the music, the people, the literature, the feverish thralls of machinated society culminating at long last in war, Paris' own Pompeii. And Time. Always Time.

I will still put something down for the megalodon of the complete edition, but later, I think. I think, in that I will leave it to Time to determine whether it is truly necessary or right to an attempt an encompassing of my first experience in Searching for Lost Time, a Time spent alongside my own Time so full of turmoil, temperament, and translation. French and I did not part on the best of terms after so many years of it being just another grindstone for my unwilling youth, but I still remember. And after this work, I begin to wonder, if it would not perhaps be worth it. For Le deuxième sexe, for Les Misérables, for this. That question I will leave to Time as well, for unlike the narrator finally embarking on his composition at the end of so many pages, that I have in plenty.

I didn't used to think so. Decide your career at 17, obtain a career at 21, work at said career for the rest of your life. It wasn't so long ago that books seemed the only future left to my own true volition, and I still find myself speeding ahead into the void if I'm not too careful. The thing about writing is the cultivation of it; a reading here, a friendship there, a life that does not require a filled résumé to be worthy of script. The path I am walking now is slower, but surer, and the beauty found in its natural growth of passionate productivity is all its own. I am not so set in the concept of interchangeability of people and places as Proust, but I do see the wisdom in living for the sake of living, letting the gardens grow without worrying too much about the resulting opus.

If you wish to write: read, watch, listen, think, live. A piece here, a piece there, when the spirit takes you. Look for beauty, look for hypocrisy, look for the intersection of details in reality, memory, and iridescent mist that lies between. Mind your illusions, but also love them, for as long as you are able. Find your niche, pursue your instincts, and no one will be able to say that your Time has been wasted. Every so often, cast your line back, far back into that cloaking brilliance and those soft-edged shadows, and wonder.Fragments of existence withdrawn from Time: these then were perhaps what the being three times, four times brought back to life within me had just now tasted, but the contemplation, though it was of eternity, had been fugitive. And yet I was vaguely aware that the pleasure which this contemplation had, at rare intervals, given me in my life, was the only genuine and fruitful pleasure that I had known.I do not agree with everything Proust has said, but what I do is of immense value and phenomenal insight. I do not view my loves the way Proust did, but much of it I recognize in parts of pain and parcels of profundity, and will color my effects forever on. Ever so often I snorted and sneered at his pompous pratfalls, and more times than I can count was I lost in a rapture of sight, of sound, of trains of lines of letters flitting this way and that over coursing streams of thought and form and sometimes, sometimes, the very soul of a name, a place, a pleasure. I have spent a longer length of effort in his pages than I have with any other author, a plunge that was in no way previously prepared for to any practical extent. Fifteen hundred and fifty-six people there are now in '2013: The Year of Reading Proust' group, and the percent I've interacted with is a mere smidgen of a handful of a precious few. I am a poor player in the daily discussion realm, but I do hope that my small contribution of reviews have helped.

Thank you, Proustitute, for your leadership as both coordinator and titular figurehead of the most witty sort. Thank you Kalliope, Aloha, Kris, for your efforts within the group as well as without. Thank you one and all for every like, every comment, every spur onward towards this final conclusion, the culminating finality of the first journey through word, through page, through volume, through Proust. Much has changed since that first library check out of that first ponderous edition, and much remains the same. The entirety of all that is what this reading experience has given me, that which will play out for the rest of my days as both influence and insight and whatever saying that one has read the entirety of ISoLT is worth in the world these days. Not much to most, quite a bit to those who count, and most importantly, however I see fit to me. And I see fit to value it very, very much.

I know that I am far too quick in my finishing for most, so for those in the midst, those in the beginning, those on the cusp of finishing, those who have finished within the last month or so and still bear the flitting of certain pages on the borders of that electric spitfire of the brain, those who made their last way long ago enough to be thinking on another journey. Those who are halted partway, those who view with trepidation, those who have yet to come. Good luck, good reading, good living. Come for the reputation, come for the incentive, come for the love of others past, present, future. Proust is not perfect, but by god he is something special.Sweet Sunday afternoons, beneath the chestnut-tree in our Combray garden, from which I was careful to eliminate every commonplace incident of my actual life, replacing them by a career of strange adventures and ambitions in a land watered by living streams, you still recall those adventures and ambitions to my mind when I think of you, and you embody and preserve them by virtue of having little by little drawn round and enclosed them (which I went on with my book and the heat of the day declined) in the gradual crystallization, slowly altering in form and dappled with a pattern of chestnut-leaves, of your silent, sonorous, fragrant, limpid hours.

-Swann's Way
Adieu, Marcel Proust, adieu. Till we meet again. ( )
  Korrick | Feb 26, 2014 |
bookshelves: currently-reading, fradio, radio-4x, published-1927, wwi, glbt, bdsm, autumn-2013, france
Read on November 18, 2013


Paris is ravaged by the Great War. Marcel despairs at his own failures, but the simplest of discoveries awakens astonishing possibilities. Stars James Wilby.

Spank Me!

Goodness but he tied (handcuffed) everything up well, and at the end of this vast opus we are left with the certain knowledge that Marcel will, at last, sit down and start writing a book; he will start with a bell, a kiss, dipped madeleines, and the sweep of Swann's Way.

That's if folks - a circular epic that pulls every emotion known to man across the red hot coals of time.

2* Swann's Way
2.5* Within a Budding Grove
3* The Guermantes Way
3.5* Sodom and Gomorrah
4* The Prisoner and The Fugitive
4* Time Regained ( )
  mimal | Jan 1, 2014 |
An amazing conclusion, but also a little sad- what would Proust have done with this volume had he lived just a year or two longer? There are obvious problems (characters die, then reappear; Marcel meets people and then says he hasn't seen them etc...), but the more important problem is with the theory. Is Proust's experience meant to be a yardstick for *all* literature, or only for his novel? Would he have ended up more with a 'other people's books help you to read yourself' theory, or with a 'your book helps you to read yourself, insofar as you're the author' theory? Because these two things are very different, and depending on which way he went, the reading of the conclusion to A la recherche will be wildly different. Most readers would hope that Proust believes there's a good reason for them to read his book, and so will seek themselves in it; but you can't deny that the opposite possibility exists. It might just be that Proust should send us not to other novels, but to writing bad memoirs.

Theory aside, this is one of the stronger volumes on its own terms- the war adds spice, there's no denying it, and, well, there's lots more BDSM. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
More than a commentary on Swann’s jealousy or M. Charlus’s homosexuality or the frivolity of the Guermantes’ sorties, Marcel Proust’s monumental work In Search of Lost Time paints the unsuccessful reconstruction of a forgone world and a lost existence from fickle memories, which like morning mists would fade with the rising sun. The narrator Marcel, longing for a past that didn’t exist but must be created, sought to experience Bergson’s continuous time rather than the fragmented and still-framed instantaneous moments by attempting to blur the boundaries between Cambray and Paris, childhood and adolescence, and Swann and himself and integrate here and there, before and after, and him and me through memory fragments of previous objects, people and sensations. As in a neural network or a mind-map, the madeleine linked his aunt to his mother, who in turn was linked to Albertine through jealousy, which also connected Marcel with Saint Loop and Swann, who, as with his (Marcel’s) grandmother, linked his childhood and adolescence. And through recollection, Marcel would try to relive the buried years and resurrect his grandmother and Albertine.

But even during the narrative, Marcel realized memory’s willfulness and the variation in hues, shapes, pitch and timbre between the actual object and its mental reconstruction. When he encountered an old friend, the facial features were so different from his recollection and reconstruction, for better or for worse pregnant with all the emotions, preoccupation, biases, that he could not match face with voice.

Because recollected sensation can never equate with the actual experience and time, like a patient thief, steals memories a morsel at a time until one day the owner would realize he was ruined, Marcel ultimately would fail to recapture and assemble stolen sensations and decayed seconds and in the end, must create new moments, new sensations and ultimately a new biography, through the synergy between past experiences and creative imagination. From those deceased hours and decayed memories sprouted In Search of Lost Time, not only Proust’s novel but also that of the narrator.

Whether we savor Marcel’s frailness, Swann’s infatuation, Charlus’s pompousness, Franscoise’s independent-mindedness, the sorties’ frivolousness or the social revelation of the Dreyfuss Affair, we can enjoy Proust’s classic without resorting to Marxist or Freudian or Feminist critique. And the sentences, like the serpentine Amazon, seemed to flow unceasingly into the distant horizon carrying with it the sparkling sunlight. Although ascending the novel’s three thousand pages appears precipitous, the effort will be well worth the while and, at the end of the adventure, the reader can rest on the crisp apex and savor time’s transience and memory’s playfulness as if they were alpine zephyrs. ( )
  Leonard_Seet | Oct 3, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proust, Marcelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berges, ConsueloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enright, D. J.Translation revisionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, JoannaRevision of guidesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, TerenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayor, AndreasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raboni, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suni, AnnikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Jag skulle knappast ha någon anledning att uppehålla mig vid denna vistelse i närheten av Combray - en tid då jag kanske mindra än någon annan gång i mitt liv tänkte på Cpmbray - om det inte just av den orsaken åtminstone provisoriskt hade bekräftat vissa tankar som först hade kommit för mig i trakten kring Guermantes, och även andra tankar som sysselsatt mig i trakten kring Méséglise.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375753125, Paperback)

Time Regained, the final volume of In Search of Lost Time, begins in the bleak and uncertain years of World War I. Years later, after the war’s end, Proust’s narrator returns to Paris and reflects on time, reality, jealousy, artistic creation, and the raw material of literature—his past life. This Modern Library edition also includes the indispensable Guide to Proust, compiled by Terence Kilmartin and revised by Joanna Kilmartin.

For this 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 Á la recherché du temps perdu (the final volume of these new editions was published by the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in 1989).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:53 -0400)

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The final installment of French writer Marcel Proust's autobiographical novel, in which the narrator returns to Paris after World War I and reflects upon his life thus far. Includes a guide to all of "In Search of Lost Time" containing character, person, place, and theme indexes.… (more)

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