Are you reading Proust now? Where are you in 'ISOLT'?


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Are you reading Proust now? Where are you in 'ISOLT'?

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Lug 30, 2008, 12:03 pm

I've just started reading my Norwegian edition of In Search of Lost Time ('ISOLT', 7 volumes, 3650 pages) and have read about 40 pages of Swann's Way (Combray) by now. The Norwegian title is: "På sporet av den tapte tid".

I've planned to finish the whole novel in about a year.

By the way:
I did read volume 1 and the half of volume 2 some years ago, so temporarily it's a re-read (for the next two or three months, I think).

(The touchstones are not very accurate, as you might observe)

Modificato: Lug 30, 2008, 12:11 pm

The topic's title should be: "Are you reading Proust now? Where are you in 'ISOLT'?", but 'Proust' just disappeared. Why?

(I tried to correct it twice, but 'Proust' was gone).
'Proust' is in the title in the topic's list. CURIOUS....
:-( ??????

Lug 30, 2008, 1:27 pm

About halfway through the Budding Grove.

Set 3, 2008, 3:19 pm

After pacing myself at about one volume ever 5 years, I just finished The Guermantes Way and had immediately to start Sodom and Gomorrah. After the others I needed a break. But these two books are separated by a more abrupt gap—and I was eager to keep going. Anyone else have that experience?

Set 27, 2008, 9:30 pm

Just finished the first chapter of The Guermantes Way tonight.

-- M1001

Set 28, 2008, 9:57 am

sarajill, that was exactly my experience: I happened to be in the city centre when I finished volume 3 and had to go straight to the bookshop and buy volume 4 and carry on! I had big breaks between reading the others so I wasn't expecting to be so eager to carry on.

Modificato: Set 28, 2008, 12:54 pm

I have yet to start the third book. I LOVED In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower. I'm reading the newer translations, which I find much more digestible.

Set 28, 2008, 3:58 pm

...but sadly I lost steam after reading 100-odd pages in Sodom and Gomorrah. I know I'll get back in the mood fairly soon, though.

Set 29, 2008, 4:34 pm

I've read 100 pages of In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (volume 2 of my Norwegian edition, this volume has got 681 pages), so it's still a reread (cf. #1).

I wonder what will happen to the relationship between Gilberte and the narrator. Will they still be friends, and what about their parents?
Imo ISOLT has to be read slowly, and so I won't know in a while, I suppose.

I'm reading ~10 pages a day, planning to finish the whole novel in about 10 months from now.

Dic 3, 2008, 6:46 pm

Finished In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower some days ago. I really liked it, but you should read it quite slowly (as I did) to be aware of all the persons and observe what happens.
I've read approx. 60 pages of The Guermantes Way, and I plan to finish this volume (vol. 3) at the end of February 2009. Continuing my slow reading.................

Dic 4, 2008, 8:24 pm

I am still doing my "homework" by reading all the biographies of Marcel which I can find; also, a book on the art which he talks about, as well as a cookbook of the food menitoned at the dinners he attends.

Reading the six volumes is my reading project for next year, and has been on my To Do List for a long time..

One guide book I read indicated it is great fun to read Marcel's books aloud as we read them, as he writes with such wonderful rhythm it becomes lost if we read it silently.

Dic 4, 2008, 8:56 pm

diary of a wimpy kid

Dic 4, 2008, 10:11 pm

#12: one of the best LT post that I've read to date.


Dic 4, 2008, 11:10 pm

#13: yours (yes yours) is one of the best LT posts I've read to date. Methinks the heart of the Sahara Desert in July is a veritable water park compared to you.

Dic 5, 2008, 10:41 am

#14: I am tumbleweed, yes. And people who let the ash on their cigarette grow too long make me nervous.

This wiki-how-to is helpful:

Feb 2, 2009, 4:31 am

Just finished The Guermantes Way. I think it is a quite humorous volume of 'ISOLT', but it was a little challenging to learn about all the characters. I think I'll remember the main characters for a long time, but not the rest of them. 'ISOLT' is too long to read several times in a lifetime (if you aren't a REAL fan of Proust).

Well, now I'll start reading volume 4 (Sodom and Gomorrah of my Norwegian edition.

Apr 2, 2009, 5:41 am

Finished volume 4 of 'ISOLT'
I'll start reading volume 5 tomorrow (in Norwegian: Fangen, in French: La Prisonniere, in English: The Prisoner(??), or?)

Apr 2, 2009, 6:17 pm

I'm just about to start Volume 2 - Within a Budding Grove in the Moncrieff translation. However, it's been a few years since I read the first volume, Swann's Way, and I know I have forgotten a lot of detail. I would like to ask those who have read both whether there is enough implicit cross-referencing that I should go back and read the first volume again, or can I just throw myself into the second volume?

Apr 3, 2009, 2:15 am

>18 chrisharpe:
Well, I was in the same situation last year as I started reading ISOLT (I'd read Swann's Way some years ago) and I read the first volume again then (Aug./Sept. 2008) and it surely helped ME to get into the story. And in addition: Swann's Way is the most "famous" part of ISOLT I think (maybe because lots of readers didn't read any further) and a basis for the rest of this looong novel.
Good luck, be patient and happy reading!!

Giu 18, 2009, 6:02 pm

I too have been pacing the books out - which explains why suddenly I've posted on all of the top Proust threads.

I've tried to separate the books by about 6 months. So typically, I'm reading Proust in December and June, and I am also reading fairly slowly - taking about a month or more for each book.

I finished "The Fugitive" a few weeks ago, so I only have "Finding Time Again" left. According to my usual time line, I should wait until the Winter to begin, but I don't think I will be able to make it.

Modificato: Apr 12, 2010, 12:00 pm

I am reading the three volume Kilmartin edition (grey and black Beardsley type cover, before the further emendations to Moncrieff by Enright) and about a hundred pages from the end of the second volume (S&G, or Cities of the Plain in Moncrieff speak). I will go straight through and hopefully finish the entire thing by the end of June. It's not difficult to read, and when Proust has momentum you can get through 40 pages with ease. For me, I can tell which pieces he expanded from the galley proofs. There are seams, so that's a little unexpected and I wonder if he would have smoothed them over or added transitions had he the opportunity. But it fits into the theme of the novel--to explode (and explore) certain areas--and perhaps so it wouldn't read like a typical roman-fleuve. I was a little dissappointed with the first real "ballroom" scenes that show up in S&G. I do like the contraposto of quick, trenchant dialogue with the long first-person Proustian analysis (it has a nice snap); and things like the death of his grandmother were an unexpected and spectacular digression, as was Doncieres. The comedy is very good. I initially thought I would have a difficult time understanding the politics behind the Dreyfus affair (or even be interested) but the way Proust has used it is simple and effective and with such correlation to modern, casual political thought and nationalist tendencies! He doesn't overuse it either. Proust's insight to human behavior and asides are astonding and his characters personal foibles are troves of subtle pyschology. Does Charlus remind anyone of Dorian Gray (or vise versa, I suppose)? After a quick second of research it does seems they share a common source (Robert de Montesquiou via Huysmans' Jean Des Esseintes).

Apr 19, 2010, 8:01 pm

I am about 100 pages into The Guermantes Way. Are you aware of the online book group reading ISOLT at I have fallen behind the group (they are about 400 pages in), but I recommend reading the posts. The moderator, Dennis Abrams, provides some excellent page-by-page commentary and he posts material for secondary sources as well.

Ago 4, 2010, 1:42 am

Finished reading it. Now reading the critics and other of Proust.

Ago 4, 2010, 10:40 am

ah...Tadi, Kristeva, Kolb, Shattuck... and then you'll read the critics of the critics, a never ending recursive loop.

Ago 5, 2010, 3:01 am

Hi enevada,
Yes, that "never ending recursive loop"! So easy to get caught up in it.
I'm not very big on lit crit myself. So hard to find the good ones. Many are simply parasites on the creativity of others. However, a good critic of any of the arts can detect influences on the artist that even the artist herself was not aware of. Then there are the scholars of e.g. Proust. Again the full spectrum from lousy to great.
I found myself looking up the history of the 'belle epoch' to get a perspective on ISOLT.

Is there any of the critics, or scholars, or critic/scholars, that you found particularly insightful? I do have Shattuck's Proust's Way and have read portions of it.

BTW, your quote on your Profile Page "Some good, sacred memory preserved from childhood is perhaps the best education" - (Dostoevsky) actually could have been written by Proust. A case of 'great mind's thinking alike?

Ago 5, 2010, 9:33 am

It does seem to be a sentiment of Proust, although I think with both writers the idea of return or recapture is what matters – for Dostoevsky a matter of redemption, for Proust a matter of revelation.

The critic as parasite seems a bit harsh – criticism is not an art but a discipline and most put in the necessary diligence to make reading them worthwhile – most also turn you back towards the work itself. I always feel lucky to observe the literary joust between critics and writers themselves, even if the joust is staged and the outcome pre-arranged. The writer always has the upper hand.

Proust has a number of great critics and I’ve mentioned the few I know well already – Tadie, being perhaps the Contre-Saint-Beuve ideal . Kristeva helpful with regard to Proust’s treatment of time, William Carter for biographical material (contre-contre-ste.-Beuve) Proust in Perspective: Visions and Revisions is a collection of essays edited by Armine K. Mortimer and Kathrine Kolb, offers a good sampling.

Modificato: Ago 8, 2010, 7:25 am

#26 (enevada)
Yes, on second thoughts, it is too harsh. I've been reading too many weak critics lately. Criticism has a long and noble history and perhaps, time and priorities permitting, I'll get to put my bias aside and read some of the greats. Here is one critic's take on "The 15 most overrated contemporary writers" here He thrashes another critic among his list - as you say above one of the "critics of the critics". (Actually wasn't familiar of the existence of this genre.) I'm more familiar with the poets he lists and - no comment! Well, maybe just one: I would hate to have him read my poetry.

Modificato: Ago 11, 2010, 7:00 pm

>27 bookmonk8888:
Michiko Kakutani offers reviews of popular works and is a critic, but she doesn't write scholarly criticism. Famous and popular writers have gotten their egos bruised because she tends to be especially critical when she reviews well-established authors, and her high profile gig at the New York Times provides her a very public mouthpiece. Shivani is cherry-picking that first Kakutani quote, besides she's not a writer herself and often enough takes authors to task for the very same things Shivani complains of:

Plus, it's very similar to B. R. Myers' piece from a few years ago where he rips Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy:

Anyway. 75 pages out. Just got to the end of that massive summation on writing, memories, etc. that takes place while he is waiting in the Guermantes' library.

Set 22, 2011, 9:41 am

Ready to start Volume Two of the new translation (panting).