Initially published in French between 1913 and 1927, Marcel Proust’s seven-part work In Search of Lost Time (also called Remembrance of Things Past) h...moreInitially published in French between 1913 and 1927, Marcel Proust’s seven-part work In Search of Lost Time (also called Remembrance of Things Past) has undergone a befuddling series of translations. The “Moncrieff–Kilmartin–Enright” version, made available for this Modern Library publication, is essentially the original C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation with further revisions by Terence Kilmartin in 1984 (based on the 1954 definitive French text) and D. J. Enright in 1992.
As I finish each volume, I will rate and review it individually. All seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time can be found on my À-la-recherche-du-temps-perdu shelf. They are also listed here:
________________________________________ In Search of Lost Time 1. Swann’s Way – my review (★★★★★) 2. Within a Budding Grove – my review (currently reading) 3. The Guermantes Way – my review (☆☆☆☆☆) 4. Sodom and Gomorrah – my review (☆☆☆☆☆) 5. The Captive¹ – my review (☆☆☆☆☆) 6. The Fugitive¹ – my review (☆☆☆☆☆) 7. Time Regained² – my review (☆☆☆☆☆) ________________________________________
¹In the Modern Library edition, The Captive and The Fugitive are combined into a single volume, but I will rate/review them separately.
²The Kilmartin–Enright revision of Time Regained is based on an English translation by Andreas Mayor, as Scott Moncrieff died in 1930.(less)
I grew up in a very liberal part of the country. My family is comprised mostly of hard-working European immigrants who valu...moreThis book is heartbreaking.
I grew up in a very liberal part of the country. My family is comprised mostly of hard-working European immigrants who value education above all else. In many ways, I should be the last person able to appreciate or understand life in small-town Texas with its conservative values and its unhealthy obsession with high school sports. Yet, I actually did attend a private junior/senior high school with a hockey program that is probably the best in the country. We won the state championship every single year of my six years there, which was in fact part of a twenty-six year streak of consecutive titles. Dozens upon dozens of students from my school have been drafted by the NHL. So perhaps the whole concept of “high school sports are the most important thing you’ll ever do in your life and enjoy it because it is all downhill from there” shouldn’t be so foreign to me after all.
But nope, it is still foreign to me. Very foreign.
This book reminds me of about a handful of John Mellencamp songs that praise the glory days of youth and that try to recall a feeling of nostalgia for a simpler time and place. Mostly I feel sorry for anyone who actually identifies with any of that, as it just perpetuates the nonsense that one will spend the majority of his life with his best days behind him. To me that’s a bit pathetic. This book, though, is a complete embodiment of the Mellencamp philosophy. It is the story of the 1988 football season of Permian High School in Odessa, Texas. It is the story of the town itself, insular and deeply rooted in social conservatism, unabashedly ignorant of the larger national political scene, and seriously, seriously racist. Oh my God, how racist. But above it all, town pride for its high school football team shines through—pride that is fundamental to its nature, to its identity.
No connection in all of sports was more intimate than this one, the one between town and high school.
On the surface, the intensity with which the townspeople of Odessa embrace their high school football team is rather endearing. It gives the kids something to do on a Friday night; it gives them something to work for and to be proud of. But as the author delves further, the intensity starts to seem a little grotesque. These people depend on high school football to survive. More than just an escape from the financial ruin that has set in since the Texas oil bust, high school football is the only thing that matters. They live vicariously through these teenagers, these children, as if they are somehow their only connection to anything good or right in the world. That’s a pretty heavy burden for a 17 year-old to bear. And more than that, these 17 year-olds start to believe it themselves—that there’s nothing else for them beyond high school football. They are hit in the head with this concept over and over again as very little concern is shown for their academic progress. To their peers, their teachers, their counselors, their parents, town officials, and to basically everyone else in their sheltered world, high school football is the most important thing they will ever have.
And yet as sad as this is, I found myself getting caught up in it: the excitement, the rush, the adrenaline of the game. It’s dangerous. It’s dangerous to glamorize something that should really only represent a small part of someone’s life, but it was easy to understand how one could get wrapped up in it. I think this book is worth reading. I think it’s important. And I don’t think you need to be a high school football fan, or even a sports fan in general, to appreciate it.
Permian High School Panthers: 1988 Football Season
vs. Palo Duro Dons — LOSS (Pre-Season) vs. El Paso Austin — WIN vs. Marshall Mavericks — WIN vs. Odessa High Bronchos — WIN vs. Midland High Bulldogs — WIN vs. Abilene High Eagles — WIN vs. Dallas Jesuit — WIN vs. Cooper Cougars — WIN vs. Midland Lee Rebels — LOSS vs. San Angelo Central Bobcats — WIN _________________________
vs. Amarillo Tascosa Rebels — WIN (Post-Season) vs. Andress Eagles — WIN (Post-Season) vs. Irving Nimitz Vikings — WIN (Post-Season) vs. Arlington Lamar Vikings — WIN (Quarter-Finals) vs. Carter Cowboys — LOSS (Semi-Finals)
The other day my friend was saying to me that she recently saw The Descendants and thought it was a pretty dumb name for a film which has nothing to d...moreThe other day my friend was saying to me that she recently saw The Descendants and thought it was a pretty dumb name for a film which has nothing to do with the protagonist’s descendants. I have not seen it yet, but I thought maybe the title was more overtly related to the book, a relation which then became lost in its translation to film. Regardless, it does fit the book rather nicely—and it is not about the protagonist’s descendants, either, but about his being a descendant: a descendant of Hawaiian royalty (back when Hawaii was a kingdom) and the burden of his needing to make his own way in the world, for himself and for his daughters, that leaves him with the legacy of having done something, or of having started something, so that he can be (in some respects) at the top of that family tree as opposed to on some lowly descendant branch.
But, really. Some burden, right?
Except Matt King—and yes, that really is his name—has a few more serious burdens to contend with, namely his dying wife and the two children in whose growth he has played no significant part until now. This book is mostly about this transition for him, from non-participatory parent and (probably) inadequate husband to involved father and coping widower, with a few curveballs thrown in for good measure.
It is a decent book, and while I don’t always like to extend my own opinion of a book’s characters into my evaluation of the work as a whole (oh, who am I kidding? of course I do), I had difficulty relating to Matt. For someone whose wife is dying and who has just learned has been cuckolding the crap out of him, I could not understand his understanding. I mean sure, he says he is angry, but he certainly doesn’t behave as though he were angry. In fact he does things that are in complete opposition to what I would expect an angry person to do in such a situation. I am sorry, but no one is that well adjusted. I refuse to believe it. Still, the book is pretty decent in spite of this. There were other characters I liked a lot—namely Sid, Matt’s oldest daughter’s “friend”—and even though the movie will probably cast him horribly (I have not checked yet), he more than makes up for the inadequacies of some of the other characters.