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In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way, Vol. 1…

In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way, Vol. 1 (original 1913; edition 2003)

by Marcel Proust (Author)

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Presents the first book of Proust's monumental work "Remembrance of Things Past", introducing such themes as the destructive force of obsessive love, the allure and the consequences of transgressive sex, and the selective eye that shapes memories.
Title:In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way, Vol. 1
Authors:Marcel Proust (Author)
Info:The Modern Library (1998), Edition: Modern Library, 606 pages
Collections:Your library

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Swann's Way by Marcel Proust (1913)


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English (99)  French (7)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (3)  Italian (3)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (122)
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napisacu kasnije
  NenadN | Sep 6, 2019 |
For a long time I would go to bed early.

With those words, one of the greatest achievements of Western literature begins. Despite being a lit major, classicist and language-lover, I have somehow lived 28 years without ever committing myself to read Proust. In retrospect, I'm not sad about that, as I feel my heart, soul, and mind are more open to understanding the Frenchman's great 20th century tome with every passing year of my life.

In the opening volume, Du côté de chez Swann (Swann's Way, perhaps better translated as The Way By Swann's), the Scott Moncrieff-twice-updated-by-Kilmartin-and-Enright translation depicts the narrator's youth at Combray, his first crushes, and his elderly reminiscences of a world now gone by. Meanwhile, piecing together a tale that occurred before his youth, the narrator tells us of Charles Swann and his love for Odette de Crecy, in the fractured world of Paris society. It's a portrait filled with endearing and frustrating characters, precise observations about all kinds of humanity, always painful or poignant, hilarious or sly, erudite and insightful. I am eager to read the second volume, and excited for the journey I will take with Proust for the rest of my life.

Oh, marvellous independence of the human gaze, tied to the human face by a cord so loose, so long, so elastic that it can stray alone as far as it may choose!

Of course, it's no surprise that most people of my generation would never dream of reading these books, and many who start won't finish. Proust (or, perhaps, his narrator) is absorbed by description and detail. Pick any 20 pages and it's unlikely that much will happen - although I believe that's partly because this is the opening book in the series, and there is still much setup. Yet, for me, I've rarely been so delighted by a novel in all my life. Even when little plot moves (for instance, the sequence in which Swann grows increasingly jealous of Odette takes a good 100 pages), there is so much dense character development, growth of the novel's world, and immense understanding of human nature. After all, unlike what today's soap operas would tell us - or, indeed, what the 19th century romances before Proust would either - the story of love and human connection is not told in big revelations. It is told in those tiny moments, those repetitions, those instances. And they are so ably captured here. I've been reading an intelligent (if tragically brief) blog as I go, "182 Days of Proust", and have thus learned that many of the characters and places here will go on to develop later in the seven-volume sequence. This was something that, of course, Proust's contemporaries could not have known, which explains why some found the novel meandering. Everything has a place in this great study of memory; it's just a case of waiting for when.

"I love Odette with all my heart, but to construct aesthetic theories for her benefit, you'd really have to be quite an imbecile."

The country idylls at Combray present comedies of manners, in which the narrator gradually develops his psyche while a part of larger situations, some of which he cannot comprehend, even though he is often frustratingly aware that there is something he cannot comprehend. This contrasts with the middle-class character portraits of the Verdurin couple and their house parties, and the somewhat off-putting, satirised lives of the aristocracy. At this point, as a reader, I'm not yet sure how Proust felt about the class system, or where this great story is heading, but I'm quite excited for the experience. Admittedly, many of the references and social mores are now challenging for someone of my age to understand. As with any book focused on relations between people, there are parts that will always ring true, and parts that fade quickly as eras change. Yet, a little background reading and open-mindedness will cure you of that problem. Proust's lengthy sentences - and I mean lengthy, these babies can go on for a page when he feels like it - are also fascinating to us, and not always in a good way. For me, I adore the untangling of his wit. They are as luxurious as any older person's memories can be. The actor Neville Jason, who recently recorded 153 hours of the unabridged complete "In Search of Lost Time" for Naxos, said that these sentences are like music: one must find the way to phrase them, the way to link up each scattered segment. When one does, joy awaits.

I asked nothing more from life in such moments than that it should consist always of a series of joyous afternoons.

All of which is to say, starting "In Search of Lost Time" is a big commitment. Like any great work of art from a previous generation, it requires some willingness on the part of the reader to be patient, to absorb themselves in the world. Yet it will reward in spades, and is often not as hard as one might think. So many of the social jests still ring true, and certainly all of the giddiness and confusion of the young narrator - and the complexities of Odette and Swann's relationship - haunt me so. Perhaps I will find the later novels harder, as I have not yet lived through some of the experiences, but when it comes to young love and development of artistic and social temperament, it's delightful (or, occasionally, sorrowful) to feel one's own past experiences so represented in print. Particularly when the book's entire discussion is on what we have lost, and whether or not we can ever regain it.

What we suppose to be our love our our jealousy is never a single, continuous and indivisible passion. It is composed of an infinity of successive loves, of different jealousies, each of which is ephemeral...

(A note on translations - the new Viking editions, each by a different translator, are apparently quite good in bringing a more modern taste to the works. For me, I'm very happy thus far with the current Modern Library/Vintage edition. The original English translation, by Charles Scott Moncrieff, has been regarded as a classic for more than 90 years. However, it had notable Victorian traces that obscured some of the greatness of Proust, and has now been updated twice, first by Terence Kilmartin in the 1980s, and more recently by DJ Enright. One day, I will certainly read the Vikings, however I am currently enjoying the connection to the past. Scott Moncrieff lived in Proust's era; to have his works complete with expert emendations seems fitting, particularly for someone like myself interested just as much in the academic conversation around the books which, for many years in the Western world, used Scott Moncrieff as the foundation stone.)

A.E. Housman said, "This is the land of lost content". Over the course of this first volume, the narrator - and, as I'm sure will be confirmed once I read my first Proust biography - the author himself desperately attempts to return to this land, taking us all with him, reminding us all of how much we have lost with each passing year. The question becomes whether we let ourselves drift back, desperately, to that land, or whether we attempt to fashion a life out of what remains. I trust Marcel Proust to take me further on this journey, aided by the skilful English translators, and I have no doubt that the "Search" will prove to be the masterpiece of the Western canon that as so many great minds before me have discovered.

The memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.
1 vote therebelprince | Aug 4, 2019 |
The only way I can truly describe this book is by analogy. You know when you have a really sore spot on your gum, and it hurts, and you are compelled to press on it, which doesn't relieve the pain but changes the sensation to something strangely enjoyable (or at least less painful), then you remove the pressure and the pain returns? That is reading this book. It has been lauded as a masterpiece, so I tried to get it, but all I came away with was a very original, sometimes sublimely written, self-indulgent piece of inner vision. It makes sense to me it was written by a guy in a room lined by cork. Short on story and action, long on self-consciousness. The breathtaking prose is oddly compelling, but I often felt cheated. Unlike others, I will not be reading the other volumes. I saw the beautiful movie, "Time Regained", and that satisfied my need to find out what happens/doesn't happen in the opus, but I'm not so masochistic that I'll actually read page after page of description of a leaf. I'll just accept my philistine status when it comes to Proust. ( )
1 vote cinders54 | Jul 11, 2019 |
I've begun my journey to read all of In Remembrance of Things Past and I have to say it's off to a good start. This first volume begins with the narrator as a child visiting Combray, then shifts to Charles Swann's obsession with Odette de Crecy, and then ends with a short section where the narrator meets and begins his own obsession with Gilberte, Swann and Odette's daughter.

This isn't a real review, because this is obviously only part of the whole. As such, it sets up many themes which I'm looking forward to seeing developed. Memory is important, both how it is triggered by the senses, especially smell and taste, and how it is hard to truly recreate a moment. Love, which I gather is going to be more about obsession, begins immediately, with the narrator obsessed as a small child with receiving a kiss from his mother each night. Swann's obsession and jealousy of Odette, a woman he barely knows, is already continued in the narrator's obsession about Gilberte. One thing that bothered me, though I think it was intentional to make a point, was how little Odette is developed. She doesn't have much personality of her own, and just seems to be a reflection of Swann's obsession.

There's lots more - the set up between the aristocratic Guermantes vs. the Verdurins, the various discussions of the arts, etc. Suffice to say I'm enjoying the dreamy, reflective writing style and looking forward to starting the next volume in a month or so. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 7, 2019 |
A la Recherche du Temps Perdu est avant tout l'histoire d'une conscience, des progrès d'un individu qui, d'abord plongé dans la vie, et dans la vie souvent la plus superficielle, découvre sa vocation et du même coup ce qui lui paraît être la véritable signification de la vie. Mais si le sujet du livre est plutôt abstrait, les illustrations en sont extraordinairement concrètes. C'est d'abord les souvenirs de Combray, où l'enfant s'est formé ou déformé, avec les admirables paysages qu'on lira dans ce volume. La topographie des environs de Combray est élevée par Proust à la hauteur d'un symbolisme spatial. Deux « côtés », comme on dit à la campagne, le côté de Guermantes et le côté de Méséglise, représentent deux directions de sa vie sentimentale et sociale. Ces deux côtés paraissent sans communication possible à ses yeux d'enfant. Mais de même que pour les grandes personnes Méséglise est à quelques kilomètres de Combray, de même, beaucoup plus tard, la rencontre dans un salon de Mlle de Saint-Loup, fille de Robert de Saint-Loup (côté de Guermantes) et de Gilberte Swann (côté de Méséglise) révèle au narrateur qu'au point de vue social il n:y a pas loin non plus de l'un à l'autre. Un Amour de Swann est composé avec des souvenirs à la deuxième puissance, des souvenirs ayant été racontés au narrateur. L'amour de Swann, l'homme le plus élégant de sa génération, l'amateur délicat et supérieurement intelligent, pour une femme sans valeur et dont il n'aime même pas le type, est analysé dans un récit plus ramassé que les autres récits de Proust. Un Amour de Swann est d'une très grande importance dans l’oeuvre, car ce récit est destiné à présenter un modèle de l'amour qui, de l'aveu même du narrateur, devait avoir une influence particulière sur l'idée que celui-ci allait se faire de l'amour, et par suite sur sa conduite ne amour. On y trouve aussi le premier tableau comique du « petit clan » des Verdurin, riches bourgeois entichés de bohème et dédaigneux, jusqu'à nouvel ordre, des gens du monde.
  Haijavivi | Jun 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
Als we nu vanuit het microniveau van deze ene zin extrapoleren naar het geheel van dit eerste deel van de Recherche, kan volgens mij de conclusie niet anders luiden dan dat deze vertaling van Martin de Haan en Rokus Hofstede – maar dat gold ook voor die van Thérèse Cornips – bijzonder overtuigend is. Het accent ligt bij hen op vernederlandsing, maar de getrouwheid, zeker ook aan Prousts subtiele humor en ‘dubbelzinnige glimlach’, blijft steeds optimaal. Daarbij bereiken ze in de dialogen, iets wat hier totaal onderbelicht is gebleven, een grote levendigheid die Proust volkomen recht doet.
added by Jozefus | editDe Reactor.org, Clemens Arts (Mar 7, 2016)
Maarten 't Hart bespreekt de nieuwe vertaling van Swanns kant van Marcel Proust. De NRC meldde dat het een slordige vertaling zou zijn. Maarten 't Hart is het daar niet mee eens. Zij is soepeler dan de vroegere vertaling en daardoor prettiger leesbaar.
Toch is Swanns kant op een aanwinst, want de lezer heeft nu meer te kiezen: het idioom van De Haan en Hofstede is eigentijdser dan dat van hun voorgangers. Ze schrijven ‘kletspraatjes’ waar Thérèse Cornips, met haar voorkeur voor het schilderachtige, ‘palavers’ schrijft. Proust lezen is al zo’n onalledaagse ervaring (door die lange zinnen, maar ook doordat het verhaal zich in hoge Parijse kringen rond 1900 afspeelt) dat zijn taalgebruik, althans op plaatsen waar het niet gemarkeerd is door een eigenzinnige woordkeus, beter niet te barok vertaald kan worden.
Dat gebeurt wel vaker, dat lezers die hartstochtelijk van Proust houden, zich over een vertaling opwinden; op zichzelf is daar niets mis mee. Maar formuleringen die me de wenkbrauwen deden fronsen werden me vervolgens door mijn ergernis voorgespiegeld als onzorgvuldigheden – en dat terwijl de vertalers nu juist uiterst accuraat, daarvan ben ik inmiddels wel overtuigd, te werk zijn gegaan. Verder komen kleine foutjes in elke tekst voor, het is kinderachtig voor een criticus om daar zelfs maar over te beginnen.
Ik ben klaar om me te laten bedwelmen door de rest van de cyclus. Ik ben klaar om meer tijd te nemen dit eerste deel te herlezen om Proust dieper te doorgronden, zelfs in zijn meest slaapverwekkende proza, slaap is per slot van rekening ook een vorm van bedwelming. Je suis un proustien.
added by Jozefus | editTzum, Johannes van der Sluis (Jun 15, 2015)

» Add other authors (81 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proust, Marcelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Compagnon, AntoineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conte, RafaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cornips, ThérèseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davis, LydiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enright, D. J.Translation revisionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fernandez, RamonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Galantière, LewisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginzburg, NataliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howard, RichardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, TerenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lijsen, C.N.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raboni, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salinas, PedroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, InkeriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veenis-Pieters, M.E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Longtemps je me suis couché de bonne heure (Du côté de chez Swann)
Ma mère, quand il fut question d’avoir pour la première fois M. de Norpois à dîner, ayant exprimé le regret que le Professeur Cottard fût en voyage et qu’elle-même eût entièrement cessé de fréquenter Swann, car l’un et l’autre eussent sans doute intéressé l’ancien Ambassadeur, mon père répondit qu’un convive éminent, un savant illustre, comme Cottard, ne pouvait jamais mal faire dans un dîner, mais que Swann, avec son ostentation, avec sa manière de crier sur les toits ses moindres relations, était un vulgaire esbrouffeur que le Marquis de Norpois eût sans doute trouvé selon son expression, «puant». (A l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleur)

Le pépiement matinal des oiseaux semblait insipide à Françoise. (Le côté de Guermantes)
On sait que bien avant d’aller ce jour-là (le jour où avait lieu la soirée de la princesse de Guermantes) rendre au duc et à la duchesse la visite que je viens de raconter, j’avais épié leur retour et fait, pendant la durée de mon guet, une découverte, concernant particulièrement M. de Charlus, mais si importante en elle-même que j’ai jusqu’ici, jusqu’au moment de pouvoir lui donner la place et l’étendue voulues, différé de la rapporter. (Sodome et Gomorrhe)
Dès le matin, la tête encore tournée contre le mur, et avant d’avoir vu, au-dessus des grands rideaux de la fenêtre, de quelle nuance était la raie du jour, je savais déjà le temps qu’il faisait. (La prisonnière)
"I do feel that it's really absurd that a man of his intelligence should let himself be made to suffer by a creature of that kind, who isn't even interesting, for they tell me she's an absolute idiot!" she concluded with the wisdom invariably shewn by people who, not being in love themselves, feel that a clever man ought to be unhappy only about such persons as are worth his while; which is rather like being astonished that anyone should condescend to die of cholera at the bidding of so insignificant a creature as the common bacillus.
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Disambiguation notice
Swann's Way is the first volume of Proust's monumental Remembrance of Things Past. However, at least one publisher issued Swann's Way itself (and other volumes of Remembrance of Things Past) as multivolume works. Thus, you can have Swann's Way, Part One which is part 1 of part 1 of Remembrance of Things Past. Thus if you use "Part 1" as part of your book title make sure you distinguish between Part 1 of Remembrance of Things Past and Part 1 of Swann's Way.
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