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Swann's Way (À la recherche du temps perdu #1)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  23,799 ratings  ·  1,820 reviews
Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time is one of the most entertaining reading experiences in any language and arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century. But since its original prewar translation there has been no completely new version in English.
Paperback, 468 pages
Published November 30th 2004 by Penguin Classics (first published 1913)
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Gina If it makes you feel better, I know exactly how you feel! I'm slogging through this. Half the time, I am charmed by the Proust's craftsmanship of his…moreIf it makes you feel better, I know exactly how you feel! I'm slogging through this. Half the time, I am charmed by the Proust's craftsmanship of his words...just WOW! But usually that's after reading that particular passage three times because I get drowsy and fall asleep with the book on my face and I have to go back and reread :((less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 07, 2015 s.penkevich rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: You
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Proustitute
Shelves: french, favorites, love
'reality will take shape in the memory alone...

For 100 years now, Swann’s Way, the first volume of Marcel Proust’s masterpiece, has engaged and enchanted readers. Within moments of turning back the cover and dropping your eyes into the trenches of text, the reader is sent to soaring heights of rapture while clinging to Proust prose, leaving no room for doubt that this is well-deserving of it’s honor among the timeless classics. In swirling passages of poetic ecstasy, the whole of his life and m
Steve Sckenda
I was dining alone this week with Marcel Proust when my waitress asked me to describe my book. Now how do I answer that? How do I describe the brilliance of “Swann’s Way” without deterring my young server in a university town from reading the greatest of books? As an evangelist for books, I want her to read "In Search of Lost Time" only when she is seasoned by life. How do I, with my clumsy manner, not make Proust sound boring and intimidating when I distill him down to his barely existent plot? ...more
Memory is a slippery little sucker. It constitutes an elusive, transient cache of data, the reliability of which decreases in reverse proportion to the length of time it has been stored. It can even be a blatant liar! How often have we found ourselves convinced of the details a particular memory only to have those details called into question by some testimony or other of which we have been made newly aware? It is almost frightening how quickly and naturally the bytes of our mind can be removed ...more
Renato Magalhães Rocha
Reading a book for the first time is a great, exciting experience that packs a myriad of emotions and sensations: you’re happy because of the joy of starting another journey, anxious because of your expectations, curious because of the reviews you've read or things you’ve heard about the story… it’s something similar to going out on a first date, where everything is novelty and - if the book (the person) proves to be interesting indeed - you want to find out more and more. Once the initial excit ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Jessica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rememberers of things past

Okay, well, I really screwed up my schedule this weekend, so now it's the latening am and nothing's happening for me in the sleep department. Honestly I can't think of a more appropriate time to review this book, which begins with insomnia.

This was great. It really was. Granted, it's not for everyone, but nor is it the rarified hothouse orchid cultured specifically and exclusively for an elite audience of fancy-pants dandies with endless supplies of Ritalin and time. This book is fascinati
Oct 05, 2015 Jibran rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers of quality literature
Recommended to Jibran by: Proustian friends
Shelves: fiction, top-favs, french
Reality takes shape in the memory alone.

I do not claim a decent knowledge of world literature, being as I still am no more than half a decade old in my English-language readings, so my acquaintance with A-class writers remains, at best, sketchy; but I feel no hesitation in claiming that there are two writers - Marcel Proust and Vladimir Nabokov - who make all wannabes look like silly dilettantes, whose artistic range, sheer eloquence and fierce intelligence have such a deleterious effect on so m
Jeffrey Keeten
”At the hour when I usually went downstairs to find out what there was for dinner...I would stop by the table, where the kitchen-maid had shelled them, to inspect the platoons of peas, drawn up in ranks and numbered, like little green marbles, ready for a game; but what most enraptured me were the asparagus, tinged with ultramarine and pink which shaded their heads, finely stippled in mauve and azure, through a series of imperceptible gradations to their white feet--still stained a little by the ...more
Riku Sayuj

“As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies, Stephen said, from day to day, their molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image.”

~ James Joyce, Ulysses

“The Universe is the externalization of the soul.”

~ Emerson

To attempt to review this now would be like trying to review a book after finishing the first couple of chapters. There is no way to do justice to it, or to even be sure of what one is prattling on about. So seasoned readers, please do excuse any
Ian Agadada-Davida


For reasons that will become apparent, my review focuses not on the plot of the novel, but on its style and themes.

If you want to develop your own relationship with these aspects of the novel, then it might be better to turn away now.

This is partly why I paid little attention to the excellent discussion group at Proust 2013, before writing my review.

“Swann’s Way” is one of the most personal books ever written, and I want to define my personal relationship with it, without viewing i
so i figured i would finally read me some proust, get in touch with my roots or whatnot. and i have to say, for my introduction, it was kind of a mixed bag. the first part i had real problems with. i am not a fan of precocious or sensitive children, so the whole first part was kind of a wash for me. i know, that's terrible, right?? here is this Monument of Great Literature, and i am annoyed, as though i were watching some children's production of oklahoma, or any musical, really. (shudder) there ...more

Reposting this review since it had been erroneously deleted.


It feels peculiar to write a review on Du côté de chez Swann given how many comments I have posted during the two months of our reading in the GoodReads Group “2013 The Year of Reading Proust”.

As I have read it in the original French my quotes come from the Gallimard edition.

Many of my posts have shown how fascinated I have been by the very visual writing of Marcel Proust. Colors, light and its effects, bounties of flowers, all
I think my original impetus for reading this was Thomas Disch's excellent short story "Getting into Death". Finding out that she probably only has a few weeks to live, the heroine immediately goes out, buys an edition of Proust, and starts reading. She's only able to relax once she's finished. Well, clearly, it had to be pretty good, and maybe I shouldn't wait until the last month of my life.

OK... it IS pretty good! Like all truly great novels, it's also very strange. Proust is just interested i


For a long time I used to read really bad books. I have mentioned this before but it’s more like a reminder for me about how much 'bad' bad can get and how much 'good' reading good books feels like. DAMN GOOD! I owe my knowledge of all those good books entirely to goodreads. So as far as I was concerned, the last quarter of 2012 was all about reading Infinite Jest, about David Foster Wallace and about reading and loving him. But there was another name that was doing the rounds of this ha
Reviewed at Easter 2013, renewed at Easter 2014.
Eheu fugace, Postume, Postume, labuntur anni Horace

When I reached the final pages of Du Côté de chez Swann, I knew that I hadn’t finished a book but that I’d simply begun one, that what I’d read were only the first chapters of a much longer work and that reading through the entire seven volumes of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu would be, to borrow one of Proust’s favourite images, like travelling on a very long and very beautiful train.
I realised
This is a second reading of Marcel Proust's masterpiece, SWANN'S WAY. I will offer an overview of the happenings of this first volume of seven.

Essentially, there is an opening stanza or overture where an unnamed narrator is remembering when he was a child waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight. These lines provoke longing and desperation repeated in the many bedrooms where he slept under his parent's care.

The narrator then remembers his idyllic childhood spent in the village of Combray. He
Emily May
I have removed my initial three star rating for this and settled with a blank rating. This is because I cannot in any way say what I want to say about this book with goodreads stars. I had given it three stars because of my indecision, it seemed like a good idea to just stick my rating somewhere in the middle when I couldn't make my mind up. The problem is that on goodreads three stars means "I liked it", which, unfortunately, I didn't. Two stars means "it was ok", but that's not an accurate des ...more
You stand at a mirror, or what you think is a mirror, for you can see yourself in it well enough. But the image is not steady, parts of your face are blurring and sections of your body are stretching, and all the colors flow like oil. You reach out a hand to steady it, and the reflection ripples, your fingers sink into surface and touch something cool and curved, an arched web running its backbone beneath. Try as you might, you cannot stop it from moving, and finally in frustration you grab at t ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Book Circle Reads 145

Rating: 5* of five

The Publisher Says: Penguin really skimped on this one--Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time is one of the most entertaining reading experiences in any language and arguably the finest novel of the twentieth century. But since its original prewar translation there has been no completely new version in English. Now, Penguin Classics brings Proust's masterpiece to new audiences throughout the world, beginning with Lydia Davis's internationally acclaimed tra
Painting of Swann, by David Richardson, with the caption, 'I gave the bitch a cattleya; bitches love cattleyas.'
(Painting of Swann, by David Richardson)

In some ways, maybe, both love and destruction come to us, seek us out, and we are powerless to pursue or avoid them. I tend to think that is not the case, but I am often wrong, and I am too willing to make grand pronouncements about life to be unwilling to be called wrong. Or, as my friend says of herself, I am never wrong because if I hear an idea that is better than mine, I change my mind to that idea, and then I am right again. Anyway, in Swann’s Way,
“Will it reach the surface of my limpid consciousness- this memory, this old moment which the attraction of an identical moment has come so far to summon, to move, to raise up from my very depths? I don’t know. Now I no longer feel anything, it has stopped, gone back down perhaps; who knows if it will ever rise up from its darkness again?”

Swann’s Way is an elegantly-written book that consists of past memories and reminiscences. The two main stories in the book follow the narrator’s childhood mem
I came into The Year of Proustifarian Delights accompanied by a vague dread, worried that I was embarking upon a seven-book voyage of joyless obligation that would ultimately prove I have too much dullard in me to chug along with anything other than the empty appearance of rapt literary euphoria. I feared that I'd be approaching these books like they were the kind of high-school required reading that sucks all the fun from the one pastime that's stuck with me ever since I learned how to unlock t ...more
My name is Emma and I am a tea addict and a Proust Virgin.

Well, not anymore I'm not! I've only drunk 5 cups of tea today AND I have just finished Swann's Way. My life is turning around.

I had some pre-conceptions about Monsieur Proust; he lived in my ‘too difficult’ pile, along with Joyce and VAT. I never would have picked him up if it wasn’t for the group read on this site, I thought if I get stuck, ya’ll could explain what was the hell was going on.

Reading Swann’s Way turned out to be a uniqu
Paul Bryant
Note to all relevant parties : This book made me laugh and cry. I absolutely fell in love with the characters!



In series three of The Sopranos, Tony tells his therapist about his latest fainting spell which happened when he was cooking meat. Then he remembers his very first fainting spell, which happened a short time after he witnessed his father chop a guy's finger off with a meat cleaver. She says his very first attack happened when he short
What follows is a collection of thoughts and notes that I have finally transcribed from post-its, napkin doodlings, margin scribbles and ideas floating around in my brain for weeks. Please forgive its faults and incompleteness. I hope there is something in it of sense to be retrieved:

I. Seeing

“Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

A couple of years ago I started to lose my sight. Oh, it’s nothing drastic. Just one of those things that my mother was
This is the second time I have read Du côté de chez Swann (Swann's Way). The first time was in college, during a course on twentieth century literature, when we were assigned the first two sections ("Combray"* and "Un amour de Swann"; I later read the last section so that I could at least say I'd finished the book). I got very confused about the philosophical and aesthetic concepts in the book, probably because I was trying to write an enormously complicated paper comparing Proust with Gide, Sar ...more
Rakhi Dalal
Mar 11, 2013 Rakhi Dalal rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rakhi by: Kris
Shelves: favorites
“But it was also by the force of inertia; there was in his soul that want of adaptability which can be seen in the bodies of certain people who, when the moment comes to avoid a collision, to snatch their clothes out of reach of a flame, or to perform any other such necessary movement, take their time (as the saying is), begin by remaining for a moment in their original position, as though seeking to find in it a starting-point, a source of strength and motion.”

The unflinching pursuance of mind,
Review of Swann's Way by Marcel Proust.
Shelf: 2013- The year of Reading Proust,Classic- ever-enduring-appeal.
Recommended for: Lit lovers.

"narratives we have written inside of us, those that make us who we are."

There are books that we are supposed to read or our reading is not taken to be complete- it's like the seven wonders of the world-you may choose not to visit them but seeing them will somehow make you a part of their cultural heritage & history. Proust's ISOLTis one such cultural landm
David Katzman
Nov 16, 2009 David Katzman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who love to read, with patience
I’m on a life raft floating across a sea of words, pulled into swirling tidal pools to observe the rich, vibrant forms spawning like phantasmagoric aliens (forms that once appeared mundane but only because, previously, no one had observed them as closely), pulled deep down by the undertow—note the hilarious mating habits in-situ of the foolish Parrot Fish—pulled out across hyaline waters sparkling like blue diamonds to drift peacefully in the doldrums before being abruptly dashed over great cata ...more
As Flavor Flav repeats over and over again in the similarly titled song, "Don't believe the hype". After a couple of books by James Joyce, Proust's novels have the reputation of being unduly difficult and rest at the top of heap of unread but much admired books published in the last hundred years. Why is this so? Is it because of the common (depending in what circles you move in a guess) knowledge of it being a million words? Is it because it's French? Is it because it has been grouped with Joyc ...more
My goodness, Proust could write. Had he chosen to describe paint drying on a wall (which for all I know he did), he would have transformed that dull event into a profound experience as moving as a passionately executed piano sonata. At first I admit I wasn’t sure how I was going to do with the musings of an overly precocious mama’s boy. But it didn’t take long for me to respect Proust for introducing himself as an needy and overly-sensitive young boy. Such as when he would be sent upstairs to hi ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: book cover update 3 14 Sep 27, 2015 03:38AM  
Amy and Erin's Am...: Swann's Way - Attempting to Read Proust 1 28 Jun 10, 2015 08:19AM  
The Year of Readi...: Through Sunday, 24 Feb.: Swann's Way 147 271 Feb 27, 2015 10:45AM  
One Year In Searc...: Planning and General Questions or Suggestions 7 54 Jan 07, 2015 07:12AM  
Which translation should I read? 5 84 Nov 17, 2014 06:53AM  
Dudziak Book Club: Swann's Way 3 12 Oct 06, 2014 07:07PM  
Vassar Reads Proust: Discussion: Swann's Way section 1, pp. 1-110 2 9 Jun 06, 2014 01:31PM  
  • Monsieur Proust
  • Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time
  • Lost Illusions (La Comédie Humaine)
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • Jacques the Fatalist
  • Pot-Bouille (Les Rougon-Macquart, #10)
  • Proust's Way: A Field Guide to In Search of Lost Time
  • The Holy Terrors
  • Marcel Proust
  • The Man Without Qualities
  • The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter
  • Life: A User's Manual
  • Marcel Proust: A Life
  • A Mencken Chrestomathy
  • The Counterfeiters
  • L'œuvre au noir
French novelist, best known for his 3000 page masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time), a pseudo-autobiographical novel told mostly in a stream-of-consciousness style. Born in the first year of the Third Republic, the young Marcel, like his narrator, was a delicate child from a bourgeois family. He was active in Parisian high society during t ...more
More about Marcel Proust...

Other Books in the Series

À la recherche du temps perdu (7 books)
  • In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (In Search of Lost Time, #2)
  • The Guermantes Way  (In Search of Lost Time, #3)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (In Search of Lost Time, #4)
  • La Prisonnière (À la recherche du temps perdu, #5)
  • Albertine disparue
  • Time Regained (In Search of Lost Time, #7)
In Search of Lost Time  (À la recherche du temps perdu #1-7) In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (In Search of Lost Time, #2) The Guermantes Way  (In Search of Lost Time, #3) Remembrance of Things Past: Volume I - Swann's Way & Within a Budding Grove Sodom and Gomorrah (In Search of Lost Time, #4)

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“Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life.” 1689 likes
“The thirst for something other than what we have…to bring something new, even if it is worse, some emotion, some sorrow; when our sensibility, which happiness has silenced like an idle harp, wants to resonate under some hand, even a rough one, and even if it might be broken by it.” 138 likes
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