Scott Gates's Reviews > Time Regained

Time Regained by Marcel Proust
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Feb 14, 2008

it was amazing
Read in February, 2008

Time Regained is weird because it brings the reader up to the point, chronologically in “real” life, at which the narrator has a revelation—during a party at the Guermantes’s—and decides he must leave society to live monastically and work on his monumental writings concerning his existence in time. So the end of the book brings you to the point at which the narrator decides he’s going to begin writing the four-thousand-page multi-volume book you’re about to finish reading.

More than previous volumes, this last one exhibits an aimless “superessayism” (a term Nabokov coined to help make fun of Thomas Mann more effectively). If he’d had the time to revise the final volumes Proust probably would’ve minimized this (right?).

In Search of Lost Time is the one literary work that accomplishes the feat of mimicking how time feels; when I look back to Swann’s Way (vol. 1) it’s with a sensation similar to remembering something from my own life years back. It had been twelve or so years since I first read about some of these characters.

At the party, the narrator is more unforgiving of his peers’ intellectual/moral lapses than ever (not to mention his old friends’ physical appearance; a substantial portion of this volume is composed of the narrator being appalled at how hideous people look). Makes for good reading, for all its unfairness.

(After six volumes, I still have no idea what the difference between a princess and a duchess is or numerous other little social codes of Proust’s “set.” I like to think these codes mean nothing now.)

Anyhow, in all of literature, paragraph for paragraph you can’t do better than Proust. The entirety of In Search of Lost Time is one of the best things ever written. On its own this one probably doesn’t deserve five stars, but I gave it five because Proust spoils you with page after page of great writing, and though this volume (along with volume 5) is weaker than the first four, it’s still super good.

It reaches its melancholy pitch near the end, with the narrator, literally closing up his ears in the middle of the party, straining to hear within himself the noise of his parents’ footsteps and the peal of the garden gate’s bell, announcing the departure of M. Swann for the night, a departure that happened an impossible distance in the past.

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message 1: by Katie (new)

Katie Bravo!

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