Books about Proust


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Books about Proust

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Lug 11, 2007, 8:04 pm

this note is from Esta 1923 originally posted De11, 2006

"How Proust Can Change Your Life," by Alain de Botton gives me lots to think about. Notice the activity implicit in that sentence. This little paperback may not seem profound but it has served as my" security blanket" for several years. I carry it to dental and other appointments, and read it in the waiting room. (When I finish I simply start again!) It is a mix of its author and Proust (on my shelf but unread). I read a section and, aha! think about it!! Time goes by and I am less bothered than if i'd not been thinking-along with these two gentlemen. Esta 1923

Lug 11, 2007, 8:15 pm

Aberjhani listed this book as one of the book that he read that put him in a meditative state for months. That is quite a recommendation

Marcel Proust A Life by Jean-Yves Tadie

Originally posted by Aberjhani
Dec 19, 2006

Lug 12, 2007, 2:22 am

I have had the Alain de Botton book on Proust towards the top of my wishlist for quite awhile; how does it best present the vision of Proust?

Lug 13, 2007, 10:25 am

I do like the quickie Penguin Lives series and Edmund White does a decent job with Proust, although others have sniffed that it is a bit heavy on gossip, and focuses way too much on his sexuality, but then it is Edmund White and the series is not heavy on scholarship. Proust lite, like de Botton’s book – admittedly, but also delightful.

I like Julia Kristeva (despite her psychoanalytic background) because as a critic she reveals a love and enthusiasm for the work – however her book Proust and the Sense of Time wasn’t helpful for that particular problem – just what is Proust’s understanding of the absolute nature of time? Kristeva examines the subjective, internal phenomenon through the operation of memory, while I think the objective, external phenomenon is much more interesting to Proust and his readers. I came across a work just this summer that is more helpful: Jeffery Malpas’s Place and Experience: a Philosophical Topography – chapter 7. Malpas does a nice job with the entire space to place through time - another topic of conversation, probably worthy of its own thread.

Oh, and Samuel Beckett’s Proust – good for its immediacy – if he gets it wrong at times, that is only because he lacks hindsight – the cautious biographer/critic’s greatest tool. Written when he was just 25 this work captures Beckett before he became the jaded French minimalist. (God, his plays are depressing, I can’t forgive him for that).

Lug 13, 2007, 11:13 am


ok i will create it, but you have to add the first entry.


Lug 19, 2007, 1:05 am

(responding to #3) Charmingly human. Imposible to live with. Full of "wish I'd thought of that myself, but delighted to have it now!" esta1923

Lug 19, 2007, 3:11 pm


Thanks for joining in on the conversation.

david perrings

Ago 13, 2007, 10:46 pm

The book How Proust Can Change Your Life i just picked up a copy and have not had a chance to even open it.

Can anyone tell me anything about this book ?

David Perrings

Ago 13, 2007, 11:48 pm


De Botton basically writes about how you can learn lessons from reading Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and about how you can adopt those lessons into your life. I don't know if you've read anything else by de Botton, but a lot of his writing is tongue-in-cheek humour. And there is a lot of that here. There also are some serious points he makes, an interesting analysis. (And considering Proust in relation to your life is never a bad thing). He tends to digress and get off topic frequently, but if you are willing to look past that flaw, you will find that it is a very charming book.

Ago 14, 2007, 10:30 am

Axel's Castle by Edmund Wilson - his first book of criticism written in 1931 and it remains brilliant: still flush with the enthusiasm that the symbolist writers were achieving great literary masterpieces - ok, i just talked myself into re-reading that one. Has anyone else read it?

Nov 20, 2007, 8:37 am

There is a not very flattering review of Proust was a Neuroscientist on today's here

Nov 29, 2007, 11:17 am

A fellow LT'er recommended the essay on Proust in Joseph Epstein's In a Cardboard Belt, and it was very good. I was slightly hesitant because I know that Epstein is admittedly savage (poor Edmund Wilson takes it on the chin) but his homage is duly reverent.

What is especially delicious is his mention of Phyllis Rose's The Year of Reading Proust. A howl, and Epstein lets her hang herself - her 'unconscious comedy' he calls it. And, truly, this lady could very easily be one of 'the little band' of Mme. Verdurin - "among the happy, the self-satisfied, the purblind" as Epstein puts it.

It seems Ms. Rose (a prof of literature at Wesleyan) never actually finished reading A la Recherché, and the book is about, well, her. A fascinating figure in her own eye, it seems it took years of psychotherapy before she could deal with the unfortunate truth of her childhood - a happy one, in which "no-one ever hurt me". Alas, we all have our misfortunes to overcome.

Really, straight out of Proust, this one. What a plum.

Feb 13, 2008, 4:58 pm

No one has mentioned the George Painter biography: Marcel Proust, a biography. To me he is an indispensable companion, always illucidating and illuminating.

Lug 28, 2008, 4:53 am

I've just joined this group.

I've got a Norwegian edition of In Search of Lost Time ('På sporet av den tapte tid') in 7 volumes, and three years ago I read Swann's way. Now I'm in the mood for reading the wole novel (ISOLT), and I'll start re-reading the first volume.

As this topic is titled 'Books about', I'll inform about my two books ABOUT Marcel Proust and ISOLT:

Marcel Proust - A Life by William C. Carter (English edition, 946 pages). Not read yet.

How Proust can change your life. Not a novel by Alain de Botton (Norwegian edition: 'Hvordan Proust kan forandre ditt liv. Ikke en roman', translated into Norwegian by Mona Lange). I've read this interesting book several times.

Set 3, 2008, 3:23 pm

I'm thinking of picking up either Proust's Way by Roger Shattuck or The Proust Project by Andre Aciman—both are good critics, but I wonder if anyone has an opinion about their books. I would really like something that really functions as a companion, with contextual notes and character descriptions, say.

Ott 2, 2008, 7:42 pm

I'm reading ISOLT in Norwegian, and my edition has got Norwegian titles of the different volumes (some volumes contain more than one part, and these parts have got titles as well). The original French titles are also printed in each volume.

I wonder what are the English titles of the volumes/parts? Could anybody tell me so I've got something to refer to when possibly writing here.

Ott 4, 2008, 6:35 pm

Most of the English volumes have had two or more different translations over the years. I think this should account for all of them:

Volume I (Du côté de chez Swann):
Swann's Way
The Way by Swann's

Volume II (À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs):
Within a Budding Grove
In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower

Volume III (Le Côté de Guermantes):
The Guermantes Way

Volume IV (Sodome et Gomorrhe):
Cities of the Plain
Sodom and Gomorrah

Volume V (La Prisonnière):
The Captive
The Prisoner

Volume VI (La Fugitive or Albertine disparue):
The Fugitive
The Sweet Cheat Gone
Albertine Gone

Volume VII (Le Temps retrouvé):
The Past Recaptured
Time Regained
Finding Time Again

More info on which volumes belong to which translated versions available at Wikipedia.

Modificato: Ott 5, 2008, 2:54 am

Thank you. :)

I think the titles corresponding most directly with my Norwegian edition are:

I. The Way by Swann's (No.: 'Veien til Swann')

II. In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (No.: 'I skyggen av piker i blomst')

III. The Guermantes Way (No.: 'Veien til Guermantes')

IV. Sodom and Gomorrah (No.: 'Sodoma og Gomorra')

V. The Prisoner (No.: 'Fangen')

VI. Albertine Gone (No.: 'Uten Albertine', ('uten' = 'without'))

VII. Time Regained (No.. 'Den gjenfundne tid')

Ago 26, 2010, 12:46 pm

Questo utente è stato eliminato perché considerato spam.

Ago 26, 2010, 12:58 pm

Questo utente è stato eliminato perché considerato spam.

Nov 14, 2010, 8:33 pm

A postcript to #8 ~~ "How Proust Can Change Your Life." I have it in paperback and find it ideal for waits in doctor's office. I can't count how many times I've gone thru it in these past years but always find it interesting.

Dic 26, 2010, 1:31 pm


thanks for your reply. i will have to start reading it. i do have it.

Gen 31, 2011, 7:38 pm

I have just finished reading Marcel Proust: a biography by George Painter. I had heard of it but never gotten around to reading it. I think it deserves its canonical status. The referencing of episodes in Proust's life to In search of lost time is dazzling, and he made me want to explore the rest of the oeuvre, especially Jean Santeuil and Against Saint-Beuve. I felt that Painter strikes a good balance between Proust's achievements as a writer and his faults as a person, and the style is very readable.

Lug 28, 2011, 10:34 am

This seems a logical place to tell all and sundry about a very interesting new website I've found via Yale Press's blog. Here's the blurb from the blog:

"Leading Proust scholar William C. Carter has started a website “devoted to studying and celebrating the life and works of Marcel Proust” that offers both a wealth of literary resources and an online course. Along with University of Alabama at Birmingham student Nicolas D. Drogoul, Carter has launched Proust Ink to provide access to English and French versions of the classic author’s work, a Proust encyclopedia, a social network for Proust students, media citations and film adaptations, and other useful resources. As well, in a self-paced online course available now, Carter offers 30 one-hour lectures that allow participants to study Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, also known as Remembrance of Things Past, using Scott Moncrieff’s English translation of the French masterpiece."

From a quick go-round, it's a wonderful site!

Ago 26, 2011, 12:33 pm

I just took a quick swing through Proust Ink and it does seem to have a "wealth of resources". I'd love to take the course but it's a bit pricey for me. I enjoyed the blog posts; unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to sign up or get a feed without paying to register? Still, there's a lot available without having to pay. Thanks for the tip!

Dic 21, 2013, 7:41 pm

Is anyone still alive in this group? I'm feeling alone in my Proust reading.

Dic 22, 2013, 9:22 pm

This thread has been dormant for a while! I had to double-check and it's been a year since I last read some Proust. I posted my review of Swann's Way in LibraryThing and also on my blog The Whole Book Experience, since the edition I read was from the Limited Editions club. You can check out the full review at:

My next Proustian task is to read the new translations by Lydia Davis et al. but I've been holding out to try to find the final volumes of that series. I know they ran into copyright issues in the states so maybe they were never completed...

Dic 23, 2013, 7:35 am

Hello jveezer! I know that they were finished because I have Vol. 6, Finding Time Again, translated by Ian Patterson. I have only perused the set, but (for me) they don't read as smoothly as the time-honoured MKE set - whether they are more faithful or not, I cannot say. Enjoy!

Dic 23, 2013, 10:09 am

Hi chrisharpe. I think the complication for me is that I'll have to buy the last 2 internationally (or get lucky and find them used in the U.S.) due to the copyright issue. I've heard the same thing about them vs. the MKE but will enjoy the different translation perspectives.