Did Proust change your life?


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Did Proust change your life?

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Modificato: Apr 4, 2009, 8:19 am

I'm 2/3 through In Search of Lost Time, and I hope to finish the whole novel (in Norwegian, 7 volumes, ~3650 pages) in about four months.
And I read How Proust Can Change Your Life some years ago, and will reread it soon.
When reading 'ISOLT' I often think if it has changed my life. I guess I've learnd to read more slowly and with more attention, and maybe I've become a more patient person as well.
I wonder if the narrator (and I) will find the lost time in the end?
Are we really appreciating the time we've got?
Ain't life time?
Or consists it mostly of buying, consuming and gathering things (I'm A LITTLE ashamed of collecting books, should I be?)?

Have other got experiences (has your lives changed?) from reading Proust?

Apr 5, 2009, 5:47 pm

Has Proust changed my life?

I have always heard that everyone dreams, but most of us never remember them when we awake.

Since starting with Volume I at the first of the year, every time I sleep, even when taking a nap in the afternoon, I dream and remember them.

I guess I would call that a change in my life, but I have explanation as to why this is occurring.

Any suggestions?


Giu 18, 2009, 5:50 pm

I am also a little ashamed of collecting books. It is a little bit like hunters putting animal heads on the wall. Collecting is, I think, a way of trying to outwardly identify yourself - that is, showing the world, this is who I am. I collect books. When I first started reading Proust, I'm afraid I was doing so for quite the same reason...demonstrating to the world that, yes, I read Proust. That's who I am.

Of course, too few people know who Proust is for that to be really rewarding. Luckily, reading Proust is itself a reward. It is at times challenging, but it has certainly been the most rewarding work that I've read, and surprisingly, also often the most entertaining.

Has it changed my life? That is hard to say. My life has changed so much since I began. I didn't read it all at once, I began about 4 years ago. Since then I've started a family, started a career, bought a house (mere moments before the housing market tanked) - how has Proust been a part of that?

Too difficult to say. I know that whenever I am reading Proust, the world looks more fragile and beautiful. I become curious about place names and the lives of the people around me that I will never know.

I just have the last book left to read at this point; I will be very sad when I am done.

Giu 18, 2009, 8:08 pm

Interesting thought: it takes so long to finish In Search of Lost Time that your life is bound to be changed when you finish it! But was it the Proust? Or was it the time?

Set 18, 2011, 7:56 am

I'll propose the notion that one may be reading ISoLT precisely because one already feels one's life changing. The sense of the passing of things awakens a wish to hold on to them; to try to fix in one's mind what they were like. They're gone, but holding the memory, perhaps that can be done - one may be picking up Proust to look for how.

Modificato: Set 20, 2011, 2:30 pm

>4 jveezer:
Not necessarily, as it can be read it in 4 months or so...and, who changes in 4 months? But becoming immersed in such a large, at times ethereal work might make a person feel a little different regardless of the time it's taken them to finish. It has a lingering effect. I would think you should read it in one go, rather than a book every few years, to get the full experience.

Maybe it was meant to be read over a longer period though, who can say? Proust worked on it from 1909 to 1922, so it's safe to say he himself changed in the process. I think part of the feel of the book is what Proust felt, isolating himself inside of a room, dedicated to the sole task of finishing.

Here's a galley proof, which I think goes beyond simple editing:



It's certainly a madeleine image, the paper and foldout additions...