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Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust
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Sodom and Gomorrah (1922)

by Marcel Proust

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: In Search of Lost Time (4)

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2,037315,244 (4.37)84
Since the original, prewar translation there has been no completely new rendering of the French original into English. This translation brings to the fore a more sharply engaged, comic and lucid Proust. IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME is one of the greatest, most enjoyable reading experiences in any language. As the great story unfolds from its magical opening scenes to its devastating end, it is the Penguin Proust that makes Proust accessible to a new generation. Each book is translated by a different, superb translator working under the general editorship of Professor Christopher Prendergast.… (more)
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Loved. Plan to reread and reread again. Need some time to digest, so I can write something more thoughtful. ( )
  Robert_Musil | Dec 15, 2019 |
Women shall have Gomorrah and men shall have Sodom - Alfred de Vigny, epigram

"[The Sodomites] form in every land an oriental colony, cultured, musical, malicious, which has charming qualities and intolerable defects."

For his next trick, Marcel Proust contrives to up-end much of what has come before, as his narrator goes ever further in search of lost time. (My reviews of the first three volumes can be found: here, here, and - what do you know? - here.) I'd have to say that volume four, Sodome et Gomorrhe (Sodom and Gomorrah, more poetically, but less accurately translated in the past as Cities of the Plain), is the most challenging volume of Proust, and yet as I reached its end, I realised just how vital and thematically intertwined this is. As the narrator matures in his 20s, he is at a tipping-point between his youth and naivete, and his growing understanding of the world. There are essentially four sections to the novel:

"People never cease to change place in relation to ourselves."

One. In a brief section, Marcel (let's just agree to call him that, shall we?) decides to spy on a bee fertilising a flower, and instead gets to watch an altogether different kind of pollination, that of his old nemesis, Baron de Charlus, and Francoise's beloved tailor, Jupien. The sequence is cheeky, and heavily coded (to the point where I could imagine an older French reader of the 1920s barely even grasping what has happened) yet virtually obscene. A fascinating reminder of how utterly different the act of reading and writing was 100 years ago. It reminds me of Noel Coward apparently writing many of his straight couples with the intention of them being homosexual couples - if only he had born a generation or two later. This section sets off one of the major analyses of the novel, that of the homosexual and his (her?) relationship to polite society. Proust - himself both gay and part-Jewish - creates distinctly unflattering portraits of both groups, but one senses that some of the writing is tongue-in-cheek. There's no denying that the author is working through some serious issues over his sexuality, but at the same time, his deeply personal comparison of the homosexual to the dispersed Jews suggests that he was ultimately sympathetic. And many of the passages about the so-called "freemasonry" of gays, in which they begin to tell one another out amongst the crowd, still ring true in much of today's society - I can certainly pick examples from my own life that resonate! The anti-Semitism and homophobia (the latter not being anywhere near as virulent) expressed by many of the characters is not expressed by Marcel the narrator, suggesting that this social obsession with difference is not something of which Proust approves. And indeed, as we go on, we begin to realise how closely young Marcel identifies with both Charles Swann (the Jew) and Palamède de Charlus (the homosexual) even though he is neither, suggesting a human connection underneath.

(Proust's meditations on the idea of the homosexual as an "invert", as a "woman", are perhaps more problematic in light of the 94 years that have since passed, but to complain about such is fruitless. If nothing else, the book sheds an interesting light on the many ways gay culture - and views of gay culture - have evolved in a century ... and a few ways in which they have remained steadfastly the same.)

"When you rely on other people, you should try not to be such an idiot." - Madame Verdurin

Two. The return of Madame Verdurin! My favourite Proustian character by a country mile, Madame Verdurin drags her entire "set" kicking and screaming back into the novel, as we begin to see the older generation of characters filtered through Marcel's slightly-less-rose-coloured glasses, as they all spend the summer in and around Balbec. Swann and Robert Saint-Loup are developing and changing, their own personalities deepening and widening, their connection to Marcel strengthening and then fading, as happens to us all. As Proust was writing this novel (which was published in two parts), his health was fading rapidly, and indeed he would die only weeks after the second part was released. In light of this, it's impressive just how dense and funny much of this bulky centrepiece is. Madame Verdurin and all of her guests, interlopers, and rivals are portrayed in microscopic detail, and much of it is hilarious - particularly the deep, and finally seemingly complete, Cambremer vs. Verdurin rivalry, which escalates over essentially nothing! Much is discussed here, and Proust makes very little effort to even pretend like this section is being told from Marcel's point of view, but at the same time ... he does rather go on, doesn't he? Given that The Guermantes Way was almost sickeningly absorbed with salons and dinner parties, I was expecting a more personal experience for Marcel, and instead the narrator all but disappears from vast swathes of the novel. Everything ties back in thematically, and sometimes in surprising ways, such as the long-winded M. Brichot, who holds up the novel for sometimes four full pages discussing the etymology of place names (Mme Verdurin bemans how he likes to "hurl chunks of dictionary at our heads during dinner"), but - just when this is inducing a coma - we realise that Brichot's words are the final nail in the coffin of the narrator's earlier romanticism about such names and, by extension, the places themselves. On the other hand, the self-absorption and rung-climbing of society has been well and truly displaeyd, and one wonders whether we are achieving much more by examining it in yet further detail. It's not that the character drawings are dull or that the situation is lacking in humour and insight; it's just a continuation of what has gone before, with little reason to repeat. (One of my favourite of the many social debates is the different ways of seeing a Princess' social habits. Some think that she is received only alone by a certain guest because that guest is particular special. Others argue that she is only received alone by that guest because she doesn't really want to be seen with them!

But what this section of the novel does, importantly, is thrust Albertine back into the spotlight in a big way.

"It was my fate to pursue only phantoms, creatures whose reality existed to a great extent in my imagination."

Three. Things pick up considerably once Marcel and Albertine are contrasted with - of all people - Baron de Charlus and that dashing, debonair devil, Charles Morel the violinist soldier (I mean, honestly, what a combination). Proust is always at his strongest when analysing the "intermittencies of the heart" (a chapter title here but also apparently a rejected title for the overall novel), and this is no exception. On returning to Balbec, Marcel stands on a cliff top and finds his soul splitting and rejoining - Marcel past, Marcel present, Marcel future - a line of Scrooge's ghosts. Involuntary memory, like that of his grandmother's death, competes with voluntary memories: memories of girls he wants to forget, girls he has forgotten, girls he can never let go of. Marcel desires Albertine, even needs her, although he's still not able to interpret and convey love in the right ways. Is he truly in love with this girl? Is he even really trying to get to know her? I'm not entirely convinced. There are overt shades of the Swann/Odette relationship from Swann's Way, not least when Marcel becomes convinced - apropos of nothing - that Albertine is having, or has had, the old Sapphic scissoring with some of her Balbec girlfriends. But just as the Verdurin set are different in the leafy confines of La Raspeliere (the passage detailing Marcel and Albertine's painfully long journey there one night by carriage is a particular delight), so too are the young couple different in this strange netherworld both in and out of society, pretending they are cousins for the sake of the Verdurins and their ilk.

While we're given a bit of foreshadowing for Volume Five, in that Albertine is clearly becoming Marcel's psychological prisoner, at least in his own mind, the better part of this section is given over to the love affair of Morel and Charlus, completing the triptych of relationships that began with Odette and Swann. It's very intriguing in the way that Charlus' love basically strips him of any self-awareness and practicality, and the way Proust indicates that Morel clearly is not that into it. The comedy is really amped up here, from Charlus at dinners, not realising he is being mocked, to plotting a duel that he never intends to carry out. By this point, of course, we're reading not "for the story", but nevertheless while I find Charlus repugnant, his fierce personality manages to keep the reader intrigued through the sometimes overgrown plains of Sodom and Gomorrah.

"His nature was really like a sheet of paper that has been folded so often in every direction that it is impossible to straighten out."

The above quote is possibly my favourite of the entire work, incidentally.

Four. The final, brief section of this novel continues the trend of previous books, in acting more as a preface to the next volume. Marcel's jealousy of Albertine has now gone into overdrive, to the point where it inadvertently destroys his friendship with Bloch (forever? I hope not!). In these last pages, Proust reaches his most lyrical, in passages of beauty that we haven't really experienced - at least of such a height - since the days that Odette was a main character. Some of my favourite images include a restaurant waiter portrayed as a series of "successive statues of a young god running", the conceit of Charlus as a fish in an aquarium, swimming delicately but not realising visitors are laughing behind the glass only metres away, and an absolutely fantastic analogy featuring a centaur. The ending is not particularly a surprise, given the narrator's penchant for ironical twists, but it certainly creates a great narrative hook, while also making us - or at least me - worried about his mental state. This young man is just refusing to grow up. No wonder, really, given he is surrounded by complete and utter children - maybe that's the point of all these dinner parties?

"Oh, if I could write like that!" - Virginia Woolf on reading Proust, 1922

In closing, then, I'm excited to learn that a change in tone is coming in The Prisoner. As much as I've enjoyed this book, the focus away from Marcel's psychology, which made the first two volumes such captivating and perfect reads, has been frustrating. Even Proust's delightful page-long sentences occasionally became enervating this time around. Nevertheless, Sodom and Gomorrah remained a deeply human work, full of sneaky character portrayals and staggering moments of beauty. As previously mentioned, if you're reading the Vintage editions, be sure to get a hold of Volume 6: it contains the Reader's Guide which apparently replaces any attempt at serious footnotes, with its dense thematic and character indices. They're great, they really are, but I'm beginning to suspect that an Annotated Proust will become more and more necessary. There were sections of social dialogue that were essentially indecipherable to me, beyond what I could gleam from context. As a music lover, I was deeply amused by the constant musical reference, particularly in the older Mme de Cambremer and whether Debussy will eventually become "as passe as Massenet", but it's not enough to expect readers to look up the two musicians. Without an understanding of their place in the repertoire, provided by an annotation, the point - both comic and serious - is lost, and this is but one of hundreds of examples I have come across thus far. The decision, for instance, to render all house mottoes in the original French or Latin also creates problems for audiences of a generation who don't habitually learn these things in school. If this is a Reader's Edition, I would like it to be as readable as possible. All of which is to say, this is a wonderful translation - and in a few years, once I've regained my strength - I'll be sure to check in on one of the 21st century traditions beginning to make their presence known - but I think we need to slightly adjust our approach if the great novelists are to regain their appeal in this new iWorld.

So, people are ageing, dying, getting engaged, getting married, getting more and more bitter. I'm excited for whatever comes next for Marcel, Albertine, and those crazy kids as the 20th century begins.

"I must marry Albertine." ( )
  therebelprince | Dec 14, 2019 |
What follows are some remarks about the John Sturrock translation of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Penguin edition rather than a review of the book. There is also a puzzling question concerning the colour of the Baron de Charlus's hair, briefly discussed in conclusion.
Even in their Kindle version the seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time can be an expensive purchase, if one chooses a modern translation rather than the one by Charles Scott Moncrieff (1889-1930). Cities of the Plain, the fourth book in the Scott Moncrieff series, which he completed in 1921, has several modern and acclaimed modern adaptations of his text, now appearing under the more transparent title of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Penguin edition of In Search of Lost Time, under the general editorship of Christopher Prendergast, assigns a different translator to each book. The Penguin Sodom and Gomorrah was translated by the distinguished English editor and translator, John Sturrock. Though it is much praised, I have reservations about the Sturrock version of Sodom and Gomorrah after reading the first three books of ISOLT in the Yale University Press edition, edited and annotated by William C Carter. (The difference between ‘translation’ in the Penguin edition and ‘editing’ in the Yale is one merely of terminology: both are modern adaptations of the original by Scott Moncrieff.) The switch from Carter was unavoidable. The third of his Yale volumes, The Guermantes Way, was published in 2018 and it is uncertain whether he will complete another.
In retrospect I wish I had made a more careful comparison with other versions before opting for the Sturrock version of Sodom and Gomorrah. Though it is preferable to the original version by Scott Moncrieff, constrained as he was by English sexual pruderies of the 1920’s, there are moments, infrequent but annoying, when Sturrock left me puzzled or even baffled by his rendition. Proust’s labyrinthine, braided sentences require clear threads of sense, if one is to enjoy the sparkle of his wit.
I have three sorts of objection. The first is Sturrock’s handling of the to-and-fro of conversation. He is overly economical in his use of quotation marks, so that once a character begins to speak, interpolations by a listener are marked by a dash rather than a quote mark as for example in the following passage, in which it is not entirely clear whether it is Oriane or the Princesse who promises Marcel an invitation:
‘You ought to make up your mind to let me fix up a cottage for you at Guermantes,’ the Duc went on [addressing his brother, Baron de Charlus]. ‘It’s nice to see the two brothers so affectionate with one another, said the Princesse to Oriane. - Oh, indeed, I don’t think you can find many brothers like that. I shall invite you with him, she promised me. You’re not in his bad books? … But what can they find to say to each other?’ she added, in an anxious tone, for she could hear their words only imperfectly.
One does get used to the technique, but I preferred the traditional spatter of quotation marks in the Scott Moncrieff version which mark a clear separation among the interlocutors’ voices.
Sturrock is equally economical, at the cost of fluent understanding, in his omission of helpful footholds in following some of the more taxing Proustian parentheses. Here is an minor instance of the technique, which can be problematic in longer passages:
[A] soldier in time of peace will sacrifice his social life to love, but once war is declared (and without there being any need even to introduce the notion of a patriotic duty), love to the passion, stronger than love, for fighting
Scott Moncrieff is more helpful. He resumes, after the parenthesis, with a reference back to the original train of thought, ‘…a patriotic duty) will sacrifice love…etc’
There are occasional jarring departures from anything resembling standard English in the Sturrock version. As for example:
‘Although it was after nine o’clock, the daylight it was still which, on the place de la Concorde, had given to the Luxor obelisk an appearance of pink nougat.’ The pleasure that one might derive from the comparison of the obelisk and the nougat is vitiated by the peculiarity of Sturrock’s account of the persistence of daylight. Similarly peculiar departures from idiomatic fluency are apparent in his characterization of a woman and her son as being ‘of a vegetable disposition’. And, on another occasion, Mm de Vaugoubert is supposed to have been driven to Marcel by a ‘vegetable attraction so strong as to seize his arm.’ Google failed to assist me in discovering just what nuance was meant to be conveyed by the vegetables in these passages. Elsewhere, in describing the mental torments of Baron de Charlus, ;they are likened to sculpted marble peaks, ‘as if some statuary, instead of carrying the marble away, had carved it where lay’. No reason is apparent for this resort to the archaism of ‘statuary’ instead of ‘sculptor’. On another occasion Marcel remembers a Balbec girl ‘whose thin reversible face resembled the winged seeds of certain trees’. Scott Moncrieff has a more idiomatic reference to her ‘symmetrical face’.
Enough carping. Sturrock is an improvement on the Scott Moncrieff which I have used in these comparisons and worth the additional cost. But cost conscious purchasers would be advised to make a comparison for ease and fluency between the Penguin Sodom and Gomorrah and one or other modern versions before making their investment.
Finally, to change the subject, there is a puzzle about the colour of Baron de Charlus’s hair. In the earlier books of ISOLT he is presented as an arrogant and darkly glittering personage. His sad descent into a wobbling parody of himself is well under way by the conclusion of Sodom and Gomorrah. People are certainly transformed over the decades encompassed by ISOLT. But for a moment in Sturrock’s translation Charlus seems unrecognizable. Mme de Cambremer remarks to Marcel that he does not seem old at all, ‘see, his hair’s still yellow’. A blonde Baron de Charlus is too much. Scott Moncrieff is more cautious, though oddly unidiomatic in his rendering: ‘he doesn’t seem at all old, look, the hair is still young'. ( )
  Pauntley | Oct 14, 2019 |
Women shall have Gomorrah and men shall have Sodom - Alfred de Vigny, epigram

"[The Sodomites] form in every land an oriental colony, cultured, musical, malicious, which has charming qualities and intolerable defects."

For his next trick, Marcel Proust contrives to up-end much of what has come before, as his narrator goes ever further in search of lost time. (My reviews of the first three volumes can be found: here, here, and - what do you know? - here.) I'd have to say that volume four, Sodome et Gomorrhe (Sodom and Gomorrah, more poetically, but less accurately translated in the past as Cities of the Plain), is the most challenging volume of Proust, and yet as I reached its end, I realised just how vital and thematically intertwined this is. As the narrator matures in his 20s, he is at a tipping-point between his youth and naivete, and his growing understanding of the world. There are essentially four sections to the novel:

"People never cease to change place in relation to ourselves."

One. In a brief section, Marcel (let's just agree to call him that, shall we?) decides to spy on a bee fertilising a flower, and instead gets to watch an altogether different kind of pollination, that of his old nemesis, Baron de Charlus, and Francoise's beloved tailor, Jupien. The sequence is cheeky, and heavily coded (to the point where I could imagine an older French reader of the 1920s barely even grasping what has happened) yet virtually obscene. A fascinating reminder of how utterly different the act of reading and writing was 100 years ago. It reminds me of Noel Coward apparently writing many of his straight couples with the intention of them being homosexual couples - if only he had born a generation or two later. This section sets off one of the major analyses of the novel, that of the homosexual and his (her?) relationship to polite society. Proust - himself both gay and part-Jewish - creates distinctly unflattering portraits of both groups, but one senses that some of the writing is tongue-in-cheek. There's no denying that the author is working through some serious issues over his sexuality, but at the same time, his deeply personal comparison of the homosexual to the dispersed Jews suggests that he was ultimately sympathetic. And many of the passages about the so-called "freemasonry" of gays, in which they begin to tell one another out amongst the crowd, still ring true in much of today's society - I can certainly pick examples from my own life that resonate! The anti-Semitism and homophobia (the latter not being anywhere near as virulent) expressed by many of the characters is not expressed by Marcel the narrator, suggesting that this social obsession with difference is not something of which Proust approves. And indeed, as we go on, we begin to realise how closely young Marcel identifies with both Charles Swann (the Jew) and Palamède de Charlus (the homosexual) even though he is neither, suggesting a human connection underneath.

(Proust's meditations on the idea of the homosexual as an "invert", as a "woman", are perhaps more problematic in light of the 94 years that have since passed, but to complain about such is fruitless. If nothing else, the book sheds an interesting light on the many ways gay culture - and views of gay culture - have evolved in a century ... and a few ways in which they have remained steadfastly the same.)

"When you rely on other people, you should try not to be such an idiot." - Madame Verdurin

Two. The return of Madame Verdurin! My favourite Proustian character by a country mile, Madame Verdurin drags her entire "set" kicking and screaming back into the novel, as we begin to see the older generation of characters filtered through Marcel's slightly-less-rose-coloured glasses, as they all spend the summer in and around Balbec. Swann and Robert Saint-Loup are developing and changing, their own personalities deepening and widening, their connection to Marcel strengthening and then fading, as happens to us all. As Proust was writing this novel (which was published in two parts), his health was fading rapidly, and indeed he would die only weeks after the second part was released. In light of this, it's impressive just how dense and funny much of this bulky centrepiece is. Madame Verdurin and all of her guests, interlopers, and rivals are portrayed in microscopic detail, and much of it is hilarious - particularly the deep, and finally seemingly complete, Cambremer vs. Verdurin rivalry, which escalates over essentially nothing! Much is discussed here, and Proust makes very little effort to even pretend like this section is being told from Marcel's point of view, but at the same time ... he does rather go on, doesn't he? Given that The Guermantes Way was almost sickeningly absorbed with salons and dinner parties, I was expecting a more personal experience for Marcel, and instead the narrator all but disappears from vast swathes of the novel. Everything ties back in thematically, and sometimes in surprising ways, such as the long-winded M. Brichot, who holds up the novel for sometimes four full pages discussing the etymology of place names (Mme Verdurin bemans how he likes to "hurl chunks of dictionary at our heads during dinner"), but - just when this is inducing a coma - we realise that Brichot's words are the final nail in the coffin of the narrator's earlier romanticism about such names and, by extension, the places themselves. On the other hand, the self-absorption and rung-climbing of society has been well and truly displaeyd, and one wonders whether we are achieving much more by examining it in yet further detail. It's not that the character drawings are dull or that the situation is lacking in humour and insight; it's just a continuation of what has gone before, with little reason to repeat. (One of my favourite of the many social debates is the different ways of seeing a Princess' social habits. Some think that she is received only alone by a certain guest because that guest is particular special. Others argue that she is only received alone by that guest because she doesn't really want to be seen with them!

But what this section of the novel does, importantly, is thrust Albertine back into the spotlight in a big way.

"It was my fate to pursue only phantoms, creatures whose reality existed to a great extent in my imagination."

Three. Things pick up considerably once Marcel and Albertine are contrasted with - of all people - Baron de Charlus and that dashing, debonair devil, Charles Morel the violinist soldier (I mean, honestly, what a combination). Proust is always at his strongest when analysing the "intermittencies of the heart" (a chapter title here but also apparently a rejected title for the overall novel), and this is no exception. On returning to Balbec, Marcel stands on a cliff top and finds his soul splitting and rejoining - Marcel past, Marcel present, Marcel future - a line of Scrooge's ghosts. Involuntary memory, like that of his grandmother's death, competes with voluntary memories: memories of girls he wants to forget, girls he has forgotten, girls he can never let go of. Marcel desires Albertine, even needs her, although he's still not able to interpret and convey love in the right ways. Is he truly in love with this girl? Is he even really trying to get to know her? I'm not entirely convinced. There are overt shades of the Swann/Odette relationship from Swann's Way, not least when Marcel becomes convinced - apropos of nothing - that Albertine is having, or has had, the old Sapphic scissoring with some of her Balbec girlfriends. But just as the Verdurin set are different in the leafy confines of La Raspeliere (the passage detailing Marcel and Albertine's painfully long journey there one night by carriage is a particular delight), so too are the young couple different in this strange netherworld both in and out of society, pretending they are cousins for the sake of the Verdurins and their ilk.

While we're given a bit of foreshadowing for Volume Five, in that Albertine is clearly becoming Marcel's psychological prisoner, at least in his own mind, the better part of this section is given over to the love affair of Morel and Charlus, completing the triptych of relationships that began with Odette and Swann. It's very intriguing in the way that Charlus' love basically strips him of any self-awareness and practicality, and the way Proust indicates that Morel clearly is not that into it. The comedy is really amped up here, from Charlus at dinners, not realising he is being mocked, to plotting a duel that he never intends to carry out. By this point, of course, we're reading not "for the story", but nevertheless while I find Charlus repugnant, his fierce personality manages to keep the reader intrigued through the sometimes overgrown plains of Sodom and Gomorrah.

"His nature was really like a sheet of paper that has been folded so often in every direction that it is impossible to straighten out."

The above quote is possibly my favourite of the entire work, incidentally.

Four. The final, brief section of this novel continues the trend of previous books, in acting more as a preface to the next volume. Marcel's jealousy of Albertine has now gone into overdrive, to the point where it inadvertently destroys his friendship with Bloch (forever? I hope not!). In these last pages, Proust reaches his most lyrical, in passages of beauty that we haven't really experienced - at least of such a height - since the days that Odette was a main character. Some of my favourite images include a restaurant waiter portrayed as a series of "successive statues of a young god running", the conceit of Charlus as a fish in an aquarium, swimming delicately but not realising visitors are laughing behind the glass only metres away, and an absolutely fantastic analogy featuring a centaur. The ending is not particularly a surprise, given the narrator's penchant for ironical twists, but it certainly creates a great narrative hook, while also making us - or at least me - worried about his mental state. This young man is just refusing to grow up. No wonder, really, given he is surrounded by complete and utter children - maybe that's the point of all these dinner parties?

"Oh, if I could write like that!" - Virginia Woolf on reading Proust, 1922

In closing, then, I'm excited to learn that a change in tone is coming in The Prisoner. As much as I've enjoyed this book, the focus away from Marcel's psychology, which made the first two volumes such captivating and perfect reads, has been frustrating. Even Proust's delightful page-long sentences occasionally became enervating this time around. Nevertheless, Sodom and Gomorrah remained a deeply human work, full of sneaky character portrayals and staggering moments of beauty. As previously mentioned, if you're reading the Vintage editions, be sure to get a hold of Volume 6: it contains the Reader's Guide which apparently replaces any attempt at serious footnotes, with its dense thematic and character indices. They're great, they really are, but I'm beginning to suspect that an Annotated Proust will become more and more necessary. There were sections of social dialogue that were essentially indecipherable to me, beyond what I could gleam from context. As a music lover, I was deeply amused by the constant musical reference, particularly in the older Mme de Cambremer and whether Debussy will eventually become "as passe as Massenet", but it's not enough to expect readers to look up the two musicians. Without an understanding of their place in the repertoire, provided by an annotation, the point - both comic and serious - is lost, and this is but one of hundreds of examples I have come across thus far. The decision, for instance, to render all house mottoes in the original French or Latin also creates problems for audiences of a generation who don't habitually learn these things in school. If this is a Reader's Edition, I would like it to be as readable as possible. All of which is to say, this is a wonderful translation - and in a few years, once I've regained my strength - I'll be sure to check in on one of the 21st century traditions beginning to make their presence known - but I think we need to slightly adjust our approach if the great novelists are to regain their appeal in this new iWorld.

So, people are ageing, dying, getting engaged, getting married, getting more and more bitter. I'm excited for whatever comes next for Marcel, Albertine, and those crazy kids as the 20th century begins.

"I must marry Albertine."
  therebelprince | Aug 4, 2019 |
This took me forever to get through. I found the first section uncomfortable, homophobic by modern standards, though it is also comical. This first section is at the party he's spent about a million pages of volume three agonising about whether he's invited to. (Spoiler alert, he is)

After that we're off back to Balbec, to wallow in grief, jealousy and general malaise. The narrator is by this point completely insufferable in the way he treats Albertine. Most of the rest of this book takes place at evening gatherings at the Verdurins where the usual society jostling for position and sniping at each other goes on.

I'm still on track to finish them all in 2020 I think, though I am going to endeavour to read the last two books in 2019. I seesaw between findiing it brilliant and finding it too hard to read, but for some reason I'm already considering starting on the Moncrief translations when I finish these ones, so I guess I'm kind of addicted now. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Feb 2, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Proust, Marcelprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berges, ConsueloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cornips, ThérèseTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enright, D. J.Translation revisionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, TerenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raboni, GiovanniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scott Moncrieff, C. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, InkeriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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