☽ Moon Rose ☯ 's Reviews > Swann's Way

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
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Sep 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011-shelf, masterpieces, fiction
Read from August 26 to 30, 2011


The streams of formless, arbitrary thoughts directly derived from the outward experience of form are preserved in the human mind as memories, encapsulating the fleeting nature of time as it shelters the unobtainable moments in the past, protecting the occurrences in time that shall no longer be regained.

It is embedded in the impenetrable realm of the consciousness. The vessel from which the outward perception from the physical world takes its transcendental form, where the sensual experiences are kept and transformed into a vaporous element, whirling into the timelessness of space, enabling it in time to penetrate and seep through one's ability to rationalize as it creates a strong hold that gears towards influencing one's future action, impressing a definition to a being moulded from the cauldron of the past.

This unobtrusive, convoluted transformation of the outward experience of form to the formless shows the corelation in the thread of time as the present reality is directly proportional to the condition of its past, as the past becomes a prologue to the present which in actuality is a prelude to the future.

This complex ability of absorption in the human consciousness is the stratagem utilized by Marcel Proust in Swann's Way, drawing more from the inward experience of the formless rather than the outward action of the form, as he elucidates the present dilemma of his unnamed narrator by dwelling back in time in his remembrance of things past, relieving his life in the encapsulated form of memories, as he dissects each shred in search of lost time.

Of Sight, Taste and Sound

Memories lay in temporal dormancy deep within the embrasure of consciousness. Like a sleeping volcano awaiting its eruption, it can also burst to paroxysm once triggered by mere association to a particular sight, taste or sound which can easily extricate it from its slumber, allowing it to flow in the present form as it whirls vaporously from the past.

Proust demonstrates illustrations of this instant attack of remembrance at several points in the course of his narrative, reversing the transformation from the formless thoughts to words of vibrating form, as the past becomes as real as the present by the sudden urge to recollect.

The most famous of which is the abrupt recurrence of a remembrance brought by the taste of the madeleine cake dipped in tea, triggering a series of unrelated yet interwoven nostalgic memories of the narrator's childhood, leading to the recollection of the rising steeples and the hawthorns in bloom that instantly reminds him of the rustic beauty of Combray, which prior to that, he only vividly remembers his desolation over Charles Swann, the friendly neighbor whose visit deprived him of his mother's goodnight kiss.

Here, Proust conveys the fluidity of memories as though connected by an invisible thread, undistinguishable and unique from the point of view of the doer.

On the other hand, the most symbolic representation of this first volume of Proust is the Vinteuil's sonata, which musical notes wring the heart of Swann as its rhythmical flow brings him back to the happy memories of his affair with Odette de Crecy. At the same time, reminding him of its bitter end as its melody captures the fleeting nature of their romantic love embodied in its "little phrase" of music, triggering a paroxysm of emotions that allow him to relate to its sorrowful tune, as a work of art can become a catharsis of the human heart.

Art as a Catharsis

Zipporah, Proust's inspiration for the character of Odette de Crecy, in the novel, Charles Swann notices a similarity she has to this female figure from Sandro Botticelli's The Trial of Moses.

As memories constitute the transmutation of one's outward experience of the corporeal form to the formless, art is the translation of one's formless inner experience into the world of physical form. Thus, art serves as a catharsis of the human heart, enabling to transform the invisible mystic realm of the human life into a viscid visual form. As much as what Marcel Proust exemplifies in the novel in his reconstruction of time through his fervent recollection of the past, is truly a work of art. 佛月球 Будда Луны
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Quotes ☽ Moon Rose ☯ Liked

Marcel Proust
“In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses the heart of a woman may be enough to make him fall in love with her.”
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

Reading Progress

9.0% "The complex, hardly discernible, at times impenetrable, yet profoundly drawn narrative of Marcel Proust seems to be moving in a stupor of a waking dream, as the unnamed narrator seems to be drunk with the nostalgic recollection of his haunting and melancholic past, insinuating the mysterious presence of M Swann, a neighbor from his childhood past, who will likely be a strong influence in his latter life."
39.0% "As memories are withdrawn from the volatility of human consciousness, dissipating thoughts in the vaporous timelessness of time, Proust attempts to give order to the sporadic nature of reminiscing the past by giving it form, drowning his prose in the floridity of his richly descriptive style. It slackens the momentum of the story as patience becomes a virtue indeed when in comes to reading his poetic prose."
56.0% "The novel shifts from the childhood memories of the narrator to the intoxicating love affair of M. Swann with Odette de Crecy, a former courtesan whose unusual beauty lures him to the little nucleus of the eccentric Verdurins, where he is reminded again of a little phrase from an unknown sonata that brings him back to the unexplainable joy in the past, the past that seems to be the precedent to the narrator's life."
84.0% "At first, the allusion to the Vinteuil's sonata appears to be only a prelude, as it refers to a certain family in Combray mentioned by the narrator in the earlier part of the novel. Its significance lies in its often recurrence in the story, surmising this first volume of Proust, as it becomes the symbolical representation of Charles Swann's life with Odette, epitomizing the fleeting nature of romantic love."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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☽ Moon Rose ☯ Thanks, Harold.

Frankie Awesome. Thanks for posting that Zipporah! I would never have thought to have a look at that, even after Swann mentioned it so much.

☽ Moon Rose ☯ Thanks, Frankie! I owe it to Proust. His innumerable references to so many great works of art as points of comparison stirred my curiosity. Reading Proust seems to be an orientation to all forms of art.

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