Jun 18, 09
Read in March, 2008
A long, arduous read.
Marcel the author fills the novel with decadent, superfluous details, and after reading it, one realizes Marcel the narrator has told us both everything and nothing at all. The "detailed recollection [of Combray:]" is so rich in context that by the time one is done with Time Regained, one will be struggling to remember what happened ~4000 pages ago. Perhaps the point of In Search of Lost Time?
People who show off saying they've read the novel always refer to 'the madelaines'. The madelaines are mentioned in Part 1 of the book and within the first 200 pages. If they get past that, they'll realize there are a lot more concepts to investigate, particularly: love vs. lust, art, music, literature, sexuality, current affairs of the time (i.e. the Dreyfus Affair), the proper etiquette of the upper-middle class (or lack thereof) and, of course, death.
Written more like a stream of consciousness rather than prose, one can compare Proust's writing style to a movie reel that has neither been cut nor sequenced into a montage, but rather filmed in one fell swoop. If 'In Search of Lost Time' were a movie, it would be the 2002 movie 'The Russian Arc'. Proust’s style, although daunting at first, benefits his concept of time (and space as well), and how easily one can forget details-- how fitting for the novel!
The beautiful thing about this novel is that one can read and reread this six volume set, partially or completely, over and over again with something new to examine each time.