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message 1: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments I thought we'd best circle the Proustian wagons and try to get Martin and Dash here soon. Any responses from them yet on the e-mail you sent, Barb?

Have either you or Ricki begun the final volume? I plan to start it Monday or Tuesday.


message 2: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Hi Dottie,
I've read about 60 pages of the final volume but then stopped and waited for you all so that we could finish it off together. I'll also email Dash now but I gather someone has emailed him. Unfortunately I haven's been bright enough the last couple of days to notice that once you scroll down to the bottom of a page here there may be additional pages to read. Whoops.

message 3: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 8782 comments You guys have made it to the final volume? Wow, I am impressed. When did you start? I don't remember.


message 4: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments I can't remember either - it seems like ages ago and also that once we finish there will be a big empty hole.

message 5: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments The big flurry of can we really do it and how to do it was June2006 The first month of reading was July 2006. Other than a few weeks and days of random "time outs" we've been reading ever since!

I think we've done very well -- though I wish some of the others who wanted to read this had stayed the course with us.


message 6: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Hello All - Dottie, Ricki, R,

At last, with much effort, I have made it to this point of being able to post something, and dang it, I've earned it!

As to the last book, "The Past Regained," I've started it, am well into it, and have made notes (as usual) to reflect upon as we continue. A schedule is helpful and I had every intention of working one up for us and posting it on CR, until the site bit the dust just before our American holiday called "Labor Day." I suppose it does not really matter. Just read 10 pages a day and we will all finish the book - it's "magic."

I'm about 130 pages into "Within A Budding Grove," and so far, am enjoying it as much, if not more, as anything I've read so far of ROTP. The innocence of M's relationship with Gilberte and his exploration into the Swann household is fascinating.



message 7: by Dottie (last edited Sep 08, 2007 11:32PM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Our Dashing w.f.t. has appeared!

Now where is Martin hiding out? Has anyone heard from him? He had suggested we go without a schedule this last volume/month I believe.
What do you think? I think we can handle the finale without a set schedule, don't you?

Everyone ready to get going? Barb , you will be away a bit -- shall we wait till after

message 8: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Dottie,
I'm happy to start reading but tell me when you do and I will wait a week or so, so that I don't end up always a week ahead.

message 9: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5217 comments I emailed both Dash and Martin, but only heard back from Dash. I'm delighted to see you here, D! I am truly the slacker here. I am still finishing up the last 100 pages of the The Fugitive. Each time I read a bit, I think I am on the way and then don't get back to it. I am definitely going to proceed though.

I haven't bought the last book yet. There is only one bookstore here that has it on its shelves. I am going to try and get there today. I find it interesting that they carry so many editions of Swann's Way and then the numbers go down from there until there is no final one. When we were traveling in Toronto, lots of book stores had it, but the price was $5 higher than here.


message 10: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Barb,

You mention,

"I haven't bought the last book yet. There is only one bookstore here that has it on its shelves. I am going to try and get there today. I find it interesting that they carry so many editions of Swann's Way and then the numbers go down from there until there is no final one. When we were traveling in Toronto, lots of book stores had it, but the price was $5 higher than here."

I am having a similar problem finding the third volume, "The Guermantes Way." But I now own 3 copies of "Swann's Way," all in Modern Library, two of which are 1928 editions and the other a 1956! Also I now own (again, Modern Library) 2 "Cities of the Plain!" I search my "bookstalling" haunts regularly hoping to find my "missing link," but thus far to no avail. But I refuse to buy new books when there are so many old ones that need a good home.



message 11: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Okay -- I'll begin reading Monday but you all must jump in and keep things going as I won't
have computer access for the first part of this week most likely. My time online will be
pretty limited most of this month but I'm planning to make notes to make up for that.

Dash -- I love good used bookstores -- and there is a real dandy of one in the little town where I'll be hanging out in the near future. Alas, I am on a very strict non-buying of books regimen at this time -- sigh.


message 12: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments As to The Past Recaptured, I’ve noticed and marked the phrase “…at bottom,” in this last volume. I suppose it is a translator’s (Frederick A. Blossom) interpretation. I don’t recall seeing it (the phrase, “…at bottom”) previously, but C. K. Scott Moncrieff translated my other volumes. I’m sure, and I know Martin could confirm, or not, the Englishness of the “…at bottom,” phrase. Every time I see it I’m reminded of the quote from Sam Johnson (found in most any book of quotations, and certainly in Boswell):

“‘The woman had a bottom of good sense.’ The word ‘bottom’ thus introduced, was so ludicrous,…that most of us could not forbear tittering… ‘Where’s the merriment? … I say the woman was fundamentally sensible.’”

This then reminded me of two of the world’s worst toasts:

“To the one we love – When she is our toast we don’t want any “but her.”


Woman’s hair; beautiful hair,
What words of praise I’d utter –
But, oh, how sick it makes me feel,
To find it in the butter.”

And lastly the famous line of Pee Wee Herman in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” where he is encouraging Simone to pursue her dream to move to Paris and become an artist, and she begins to make excuses why it will never happen saying, “But…..” Pee Wee interrupts her and says,

“Every body’s got a “Big But,” let’s talk about your “Big But,” Simone.”

It goes down hill from there, like this post.

“But,” I remain your faithful Proustian friend “at bottom!”



message 13: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Aaah -- Dash -- we are so glad you joined our little band!

message 14: by w.f.t. (last edited Sep 09, 2007 07:59PM) (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Thou shalt now have no excuses. Mush you huskies!

Proust September Schedule

“The Past Recaptured”

(Modern Library – Blossom Translation)

Sat 1 (MLB Chapter 1 page1) (MLB p.10)
(Beginning) “The whole day long, in that rather too countrified house at Tansonville,..”

Sun 2 (p.10)
“Along with the rest of them, M. de Charlus was not spared…”

Mon 3 (p.21)
“And thereupon she talks to us concerning the admirable portrait Elstir did for her of the Cottard family…”

Tue 4 (Chapter 2 p. 31)
“One of the first evenings after my second return to Paris, in 1916…”

Wed 5 (p. 40)
“Moreover, the Verdurins, by the inevitable development of aestheticism…”

Thu 6 (p. 50)
“He was above all particularly irritated to hear Robert say ‘Emperor William.’”

Fri 7 (p. 61)
“And now, on my second return to Paris, the very day after my arrival, I had received another letter from Gilberte…”

Sat 8 (p. 71)
“There the impression of the Orient which I had recently experienced came back to me, and in another sense a vision of the Paris of 1815…”

Sun 9 (p. 80)
“As for the change which had taken place in M. de Charlus’s form of enjoyment

message 15: by w.f.t. (last edited Sep 11, 2007 02:57AM) (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Mon 10 (p.91)
“ ‘It’s a strange thing, moreover,’ M. de Charlus added in the sharp little voice he sometimes assumed.”

Tue 11 (p.100)
“This digression about Mme. de Forcheville gives me an excuse (while I walk along the boulevards side by side with M. de Charlus)to introduce another, even longer but usefu in describing this period, concerning the relatios between Mme. Verdurin and Brichot.”
Wed 12 (p. 111)
“And yet Germany uses so exactly the same expressions as France that it would almost make you think she was quoting verbatim.”

Thu 13 (p. 120)
“Now I understood Morel’s fear.”

Fri 14 (p. 131)
“The Baron knew that Jupien, endowed with the intelligence of a literary man…”

Sat 15 (p. 141)
“I caught again, in the sprightly playfulness he exhibited before this harem which almost seemed to intimidate him…”

message 16: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Sun 16 (p. 151)
“ ‘As for the Lilies, if that’s what you’re after, I would advise you to seek them elsewhere’…”

Mon 17 (p. 161)
“So, though they were continuing to hunt for the croix de guerre, I, who suspected where it had been lost, found them cool on the subject of Robert…”

Tue 18 (p. 170)
“But this time he did not succeed in augmenting her grief, as he had expected, for she replied, ‘It is true they, too, are dying for France, but they are unknown; it’s always more interesting when it’s somebody you know.’...”

Wed 19 (Chapter 3 “The Princesse de Guermantes Receives” p. 181)
“When I reached the corner of the Rue Royale, where there used to be the open-air stall of photographs that Francoise was so fond of…”

Thu 20 (p. 191)
“A deep azure blue intoxicated my sight, impressions of coolness and dazzling light hovered near me and, in my eagerness to seize them, not daring to move – just as when I tasted the flavour of the Madeleine and tried to bring back to my mind what it suggested to me ...”

Fri 21 (p. 201)
“Thus it was that what the being three and even four times revived within me had just enjoyed was perhaps, it is true, fragments of existence removed outside the realm of time….”

Sat 22 (p. 211)
“And that is why this book, which my mother had read aloud to me at Combray almost until early morning, had retained for me all the spell of that night.”

message 17: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Sun 23 (p. 221)
“How many there are, consequently, who stop at that point and extract nothing from their impressions, but go to their graves useless and unsatisfied, like celibates of art. They are tormented by the same regrets as virgins…”

Mon 24 (p. 231)
“It is quite possible that, to produce a literary work, imagination and sensibility are interchangeable qualities and that the latter can, without much disadvantage, be substituted for the former, jus as people whose stomach is unable to digest food charge their intestines with this function.”

Tue 25 (p. 241)
“I understood also that the most trivial incidents of my earlier life had combined to teach me the lessons of idealism that was now going to be so useful to me.”

Wed 26 (p. 251)
“For just as great events have no influence externally on our mental powers, so that a mediocre writer living in an epic period will remain just as mediocre, the real danger in social activity lay in the frivolous inclinations with which one went into it.”

Thu 27 (p. 261)
“Then something more than military tactics had changed during these years and to M. de Letourville I was, therefore, not a comrade but an old gentleman…”

Fri 28 (p. 271)
“In short, the artist Time had turned out all these models in such a way that they were recognizable but not good likenesses, not because he had flattered them, but because he had made them look older. That artist, moreover, works very slowly.”

Sat 29 (p. 281)
“I met there again one of my old friends whom I had been in the habit of seeing almost every day for ten years.”

Sun 30 (p. 291)
“And soon she would not put up any defense against death. But now, after anticipating our story in this way, let us return to three years before, that is to say, to the reception we are attending at the home of the Princesse de Guermantes.”

message 18: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Begin October Reading; And To the Finish!

Mon 1 (p. 301)
“The name of the young woman to whom Bloch introduced me was entirely new to me and the names of the various members of the Guermantes family could not have been very familiar to her, for she asked an American woman on what grounds Mme de Saint-Loup appeared to be on such intimate terms with all the most prominent people there.”

Tue 2 (p. 311)
“To mention another point, the opportunity which had offered itself for me to be admitted into the Guermantes circle had seemed to me something exceptional.”

Wed 3 (p. 320)
“ ‘What has become of the Marquise d’Arpajon?’ asked Mme. de Cambremer.”

Thu 4 (p. 330)
“I could not explain to Gliberte the thoughts that had been going through my mind for the past hour, but it occurred to me that, when it came to mere entertainment, she might furnish opportunities for pleasant diversion which I did not, as a matter of fact, believe I should find in discussing literature with the Duchesse de Guermantes any more than with Mme. Saint-Loup.”

Fri 5 (p. 341)
“And Berma, realizing that the sleep that would have eased her pain had fled, resigned herself to lying awake…”

Sat 6 (p. 351)
“Late in life, wearied by the slightest effort, Mme. de Guermantes made an enormous number of stupid remarks.”

Sun 7 (p. 361)
“At this moment an unexpected incident occurred.”

message 19: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Mon 8 (p. 371)
“Later he was surprised at this contradiction; but there is no contradiction in it if we stop to think what a great amount of suffering is caused in men’s lives by women who were ‘not their kind.’”

Tue 9 (p. 381)
“But it is even more true that life is ceaselessly weaving other threads between human beings and events, that life crosses these threads with one another and doubles them to make the weft heavier, so that, between the tiniest point in our past life and all the other points, a rich network of memories leaves us only the choice of which road to take.”

Wed 10 (p. 391)
“This obscure sense of what was going to happen was conveyed to me by the strange thing which occurred before I had begun my book and which befell me in a manner I would never have expected.”

Ending at, The End! Celebrate! Bartender, A Round For Everybody!

(p. 402)
“… - as occupying in Time a place far more considerable than the so restricted one allotted them in space, a place, on the contrary, extending boundlessly since, giant-like, reaching far back into the years, they touch simultaneously epochs of their lives – with countless intervening days between – so widely separated from one another in Time.”

message 20: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Dash,
I love it when someone organises this. thank you.
As for the Guermantes Way - try here:

It's from the Abebooks website and there are lots of copies. Even when I have had them send something to the UK I've found it has arrived speedily. Also if you want to read online, try Project Gutenberg - it's where I got my French edition to read and I would imagine they or one of their associates have the English.

message 21: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Ricki,

As to the “organizing,” the work involved in making the schedule was like taking a refresher course. Also, I tried very hard to select starting-sentences that were meaningful to me and pertinent to the point where the story was at, on any particular day. So that it was not only a “break” in the story, so to speak, but also, wherever possible and to my thinking, perhaps, a significant passage selected. Regardless, I hope it helps everyone, and will give us something to gauge our progress other than “whatever.” We can do it if we try.



message 22: by Sherry, Doyenne (last edited Sep 10, 2007 01:57PM) (new)

Sherry | 6810 comments Dash, Here is the thread. You have to "see all discussions" or "view all" to get to the threads that haven't been posted to recently.

message 23: by w.f.t. (last edited Sep 11, 2007 03:32AM) (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Thanks Ricki. I checked it out and see I have a lot to choose from. And thanks Sherry. I'm still having a hard time finding things - it's me, I'm technologically challenged.

I find it very interesting that today’s read, September 11, 2007, contains so much commentary on “war,” and how it influences our character’s lives.

Early on there is the phrase referring to M. de Charlus,

“(because the latter was very keen and also more or less unconsciously a Germanophile).”

The expression, referring to the Verdurins,

“…they were rabidly patriotic…”

a type of patriotism that made me think of another Johnson quote,

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

And then the passage that made me think of the Bush’s Iraq War:

“What I fear for France’s sake is not so much Germany as the war itself. The people here at home imagine that the war is a gigantic prizefight which they are witnessing from a distance, through the kindness of the newspapers. But there is no resemblance between the two. War is like a disease which, when you seem to have checked it at one point, breaks out at another. To-day Noyon will be relieved, to-morrow there will be no more bread or chocolate, and the day after to-morrow he who thought himself safe and who would, if necessary, accept philosophically a wound the consequences of which he does not picture to himself, will be in a panic when he reads in the newspaper that his class has been called back into service.”

(Of course, in our situation, the "no more bread and chocolate" phrase does not apply - we have an unlimited supply of money! We will always have "bread and chocolate.")

And lastly, in spite of all the “spin” to the contrary, a similar analysis of the “War,”

“You appear to believe that victory is now assured to France; I hope so with all my heart; you have no doubt about it; but after all, since the Allies, rightly or wrongly, feel sure of winning (for my part, I would naturally be delighted with this solution, but I see chiefly many paper victories and Pyrrhic victories at a cost they don’t let us know)…”

Now, could someone enlighten us on what a “Pyrrhic victory” is?



message 24: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Dash,
A pyrrhic victory is one where you win but with great losses - see:

I found the parts where Proust discusses the nation as a combination of individuals and links war with patriotism both fascinating and containing some good insights into both human nature and the propogandising of war (this is in discussion of Charlus). It is obvious he is writing this post-WW1 isn't it?

message 25: by w.f.t. (last edited Sep 15, 2008 05:36PM) (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Hey, Thanks Ricki on the “Pyrrhic victory” site. I should have known that from my man – Plutarch!

The site is fascinating beyond belief. The site gives 28 wars that are examples of “Pyrrhic victories;” none more interesting than, the Iran/Iraq war – of which I knew very little until reading this site.

But I don’t believe a word of it, which says that America supported the ultra evil Saddam Hussein! and gave him extensive military support. This must be a total lie put out by Wikipedia. It cannot possibly be true. Herein is the problem with Wikipedia. You cannot trust it for a moment! This site actually propogates the following inscrutably impossible assertions:

“Ted Koppel of ABC Nightline reported the following, however, on June 9, 1992: "It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush Sr., operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980s, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into [an aggressive power:]" and “Reagan/Bush administrations permitted — and frequently encouraged — the flow of money, agricultural credits, dual-use technology, chemicals, and weapons to Iraq.”

According to New Yorker, the Reagan Administration began to allow Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to transfer to Iraq American howitzers, helicopters, bombs and other weapons. [29:] Reagan personally asked Italy’s Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to channel arms to Iraq.[30:]

The United States, United Kingdom, and Germany also provided "dual use" technology (computers, engines, etc.) that allowed Iraq to expand its missile program and radar defenses. The U.S. Commerce Department, in violation of procedure, gave out licenses to companies for $1.5 billion in dual-use items to be sent to Iraq.”

The above is impossible!! But I digress.

You mention that Proust “… is writing this post-WW1 isn't (he)?,” and I think you are correct. I have thought that he might have written the last book first, and not Swann’s Way. Or possibly he wrote parts of each at the same time – but I don’t think it (the “book” which he refers to so often, the “book” that was in him), was written in a linear fashion. I think that his ideas and thoughts were buzzing in and around his head like a swarm of honeybees, and he eventually gave the thing some order.



message 26: by w.f.t. (last edited Sep 13, 2007 03:50AM) (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments I may have mentioned that I was reading “Within A Budding Grove,” along with the Proust Sept. Schedule. I was hesitant to post anything from WABG, but when I considered we are all at different places and everyone has read WABG but me, I thought, “what does it matter?”

Regardless, I’m enjoying this WABG as much or more than anything I’ve read of Proust. M’s time in the Swann home and association with them is fascinating.

Starting with the habits of Norpois, but particularly on page 32 when M is talking with Norpois and says,

“Until now, I had reckoned only that I had not the ‘gift’ for writing; now M. de Norpois took from me the ambition also.”

This has been the general effect of my reading Proust – until now (reading Proust) I had reckoned only that I had not the ‘gift’ for writing; now Proust has taken from me the ambition also.

Another strange literary occurrence is the use of great artist’s names. He says,

“…they no more accounted for it than would for that of the Gioconda or of Benvenuto’s Perseus…”

Here he says “Benvenuto’s instead of Cellini’s Perseus. He is on a “first name basis” with that artist. Later he mentions the great and famous chef, Vatel (found in Madame de Sevigne, by the way), as he is commonly referred to, and of Leonardo de Vinci he refers to him as “Leonardo” once (first name, I suppose) and once as simply “Vinci” (page 106, “their photograph, how far more precious than one of a sheet of flowers traced by Vinci’s pencil!”).

For you English, I noted that after Francoise received great honor and praise for giving Norpois a sumptuous meal, it turns out her favorite restaurant, “of which she spoke with this blend of pride and good-humoured tolerance was, it turned out, the Café’ Anglais." Do I have that right? The Café English?

Lastly there is here the mention of,

“the famous ‘Albertine.’ She’s certain to be dreadfully ‘fast’ when she’s older, but just now she’s the quaintest spectacle.” (Saith Gilberete to M.)

and M’s two terrible suspicions that he was no longer a child and what that meant.

1.The die was cast.

2.He was subject to the laws of Time in that like the revolving of the Earth it’s movement is imperceptible.



message 27: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Oh my -- I'm already off schedule but it I don't seem to be able to get settled with this yet. What little I've read is making me reluctant to even concentrate on it -- I almost want to "avoid" it -- because I'm coming to the end and don't want to leave it? But I'm also getting curious about how it's going to unfold so I'll take off as soon as I get a chance to really spend time with the book.

Meanwhile I can read Dash's posts about wine lists and such -- we really need to get Martin Porter back here though for this final reading. Has he gone totally AWOL, I wonder?

Today was the 90th birthday bash for my father-in-law and it went off very nicely -- lots of talking and good wishes from all quarters. Our gift of a retrospective photo album encompassing the back and forth visits since we married seems to have been appreciated. Plenty of laughs -- 70's sideburns on Jim for one thing -- and plenty of comments from the younger set who had seen few of these photos before. Doing all the calligraphy commentary in the album took up my reading time -- that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Back before TOO long -- Dottie

message 28: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Dottie,

You said,

“Oh my -- I'm already off schedule but it I don't seem to be able to get settled with this yet. What little I've read is making me reluctant to even concentrate on it -- I almost want to "avoid" it -- because I'm coming to the end and don't want to leave it? But I'm also getting curious about how it's going to unfold so I'll take off as soon as I get a chance to really spend time with the book.”

It was unclear to me if you were referring to, “The Past Recaptured,” and if so, where you are in the schedule. Are you in Chapter 2 yet? Regardless, I will say that if you can get through chapters 1 and 2, of the “Past Recaptured,” you will be rewarded generously in chapter 3 – one of the best in all I’ve read thus far. An absolute "must read." Push through. I think you will be glad you did.

But if you need more advise on wine lists….. Oh never mind.



message 29: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Dash,

I am busy reading away and am at the part where Proust debates, discusses, whatever, memory and the incidents that bring the past to life though that isn't a phrase he would ever have agreed with. I'm enjoying this part - it's more or less a small essay and is suited to Proust's writing style. In the meantime the parts about Charlus and the house, Jupien, etc. - interesting - although the graphic detail for a novel of that time was, I suppose, a bit surprising for me. I wondered whether Proust had observed or imagined or gained insights from conversations into the atmosphere of the place. And when I think of it - the juxtaposition of that section with the one I'm reading now is perhaps somewhat, shall we say, interesting. All in one book!

message 30: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Dash,

Yes I have read Sesame and Lilies and find Ruskin's works most interesting. I also have it at home.

Sorry if this sounds an illogical posting but Dash has been having trouble posting to this site and I am having a try to see whether it will accept my posting!!!

message 31: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Thanks Ricki,

"Sorry if this sounds an illogical posting but Dash has been having trouble posting to this site and I am having a try to see whether it will accept my posting!!!"

It seems logical to me.



message 32: by w.f.t. (last edited Sep 19, 2007 02:51PM) (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Proust brings in Ruskin at the beginning of the Sept 16th read, and mentions a book by Ruskin called “Sesame and Lilies,” of which I have two copies. An 1899 and an 1894 copy, both published by Henry Altemus. So, what then is the connection between Ruskin and Proust? Ruskin lived from Feb. 8, 1819 to Jan 20, 1900. Proust July 10, 1871 to Nov. 18, 1922. Ruskin was 52 when Proust was born and wrote “S and L” when he was 51. Ruskin begins by saying,

“Being now fifty-one years old, and little likely to change my mind hereafter on any important subject of thought (unless through weakness of age),….”

That would be perhaps the most undisputable truth set forth in “Sesame and Lilies.”

Proust could have written this novel without ever mentioning Ruskin, and none of us would have noticed the difference. “Sesame and Lillies” is a somewhat obscure work of Ruskin’s, and I wonder what the connection is. I think Ruskin gave the “lectures” which comprise “S and L” to an all-girls school and meant the information to be a framework for the education of women. Anyone who knows any different can correct me and I will not be offended. I only wish the admirable Dr. Porter was here to give his much desired input. Among other things which Ruskin believed, a significant concern of his is brought into Proust regarding “restoration” of old buildings, and Albertine, as I recall, mentions the new stone on an old church and refers to Bergotte (I think? Or was it Elstir?) as the person she learned how to tell the difference. The new stone being a negative in the “restoration” process. Wiki addresses this issue. Wiki says,

“Ruskin’s belief in the preservation of ancient buildings had a significant influence on later thinking about the distinction between the conservation and the restoration of old buildings…

‘Neither by the public nor by those who have the care of public monuments, is the true meaning of the word restoration understood.’ Ruskin.



message 33: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Wiki also mentions Ruskin’s sexuality.

“His one marriage, to Effie Gray, was annulled…His wife in a letter to her parents claimed Ruskin found her “person” (meaning her body) repugnant. She said, ‘He alleged various reasons, (her) hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and finally this last year he told me his true reason… that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his Wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening 10th April.’ Ruskin confirmed this in his statement to his lawyer during the annulment proceedings, saying, ‘It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstance in her person which completely checked it.’

I suppose if what Ruskin said to his lawyer is true, it could be argued at least one benefit of premarital sex is to discover what “checking” qualities one’s partner might or might not have with respect to the “act.” The good news here is, that if premarital sex be a “sin,” it would be one Ruskin never had to repent of. One scholar suggests Ruskin was put off by his “bride’s” pubic hair! Another suggests it was her odor, and still another says the problem was menstrual blood! Now that is bad timing for a honeymoon. I suppose people back in those days could not calculate those things like we can today – and if this last scenario was true, Ruskin was rightly obeying the Levitical prohibition against associating with a woman when she is “unclean.” Lastly, of note is Ruskin’s recovery from a dysfunctional relationship with his first and only wife to find a girl more to his liking – one 10 years old, who wisely refused his hand in marriage till the day she died. Perhaps Ruskin’s desire to have relationships with children is where Proust finds the most resonate chord with Ruskin.



message 34: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Well, here's the deal. This board will only take a post under "4000 characters." Calculate by using your "Word Count," (Characters with spaces). If the post is long-winded like mine usually are, find a natural break and post as many times as needed in partial installments. I should have known this from when I posted the schedule.

Regardless, I have gotten the Ruskin thing out of my system, but I'd like for Ricki to add the background information she sent me in an email about Proust translating Ruskin.

Also, are there any Ruskin fans out there?



message 35: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments

Here are a couple of other things I find of interest in this mid September reading of “The Past Recaptured.

A very popular word today is used to describe irresponsible people is “slacker,” and it is used in translation to describe,

“…the lordly young man in dinner jacket whom I saw at Jupien’s, whose sole concern was to know whether he could have Leon at half-past ten ‘because he was lunching downtown,’…”

These “slacker” types are contrasted to the noble Lariviere family (relatives of Francoise) he describes as having insured the survival of France through their industry and sacrifice.

Almost as an aside in describing the Larivieres, he mentions the source for his “book.”

“In this book of mine, in which there is not one fact that is not imaginary, nor any real person concealed under a false name, where everything has been invented by me to meet the needs of my story, I ought to say in praise …..”

There you have it. All the “facts” are imaginary. Only real persons are real. Everything has been invented by Proust – Jupien’s House, the sexual proclivities of Charlus, Albertine, Swann, Odette, etc. (even the statement he just made?).

The phrase, “This book of mine…” reminded me of the title of a poem, “Sweet Book of Mine.” Here it is:

Sweet Book of Mine
By Richard Le Gallenne

"When do I love you most, sweet book of mine?
In strenuous morns when o’er your leaves I pore,
Austerely bent to win austerest love,
Forgetting how the dewy meadows shine;
Or afternoons when honeysuckles twine
About the seat, and to some dreamy shore
Of old Romance, where lovers evermore
Keep blissful hours, I follow at your sign?

Yea! Ye are precious then, but most to me
Ere lamplight dawneth, when low croons the fire
To whispering twilight in my little room,
And eyes read not, but sitting silently
I feel your great hearts’ throbbing deep in quire,
And hear you breathing round me in the gloom."



message 36: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Hill | 20 comments Yes, I have a copy of SESAME AND LILLIES bound up in a rubber band and have been meaning to copy some of his commentary on economic evils to my blog. I know there´s more Ruskin in the storage building; my father found one of the volumes somewhere and used them in his Sunday School teaching.
one lecture that is not in SESAME AND LILLIES I´d love to get my paws on. Ruskin was asked by a chamber of commerce type organization to address them on what kind of architecture to use for their new building. - The man must have had his own income - He stood up and told them that no matter what they did their building would not be beautiful because it was built on the underpaid labor of their fellow men. ¨Your idea of a good worker is someone who doesn´t mind working for low wages, never gets drunk, and tips his hat to you on Sundays.¨ He went on for quite some time.

message 37: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Wow -- I am finally caught up to the appropriate place in the reading though I find that by flying with my own ten pages a day calculations I am still behind the specifically quoted starting and stopping points but I'm in the neighborhood none-the-less.

The generalizations seem to be flowing in this volume -- the descriptions of the war in specific and the definition of war as an entity -- and then the treatises upon the effects of a degenerate/or a deviant and the accumulating additive effect of the lifestyle involved.

There is a long section on love -- it was amazing.

I enjoyed revisiting M's descriptions of the moon and the comparisons of the two nights -- one in 1914 and the other in 1916 -- and the comparisons of the moon and the searchlights and the moon and the bomabrdments.

I think I'm still in love largely with the language itself. I find myself of the opinion at least in this volume that the language is more truncated in a larger percentage of the text -- not that I mean the sentences are at all short.

I think the tone remains in my opinion somewhat melancholic as well -- and that reflects M's age and the periods spent in sanitoriums and the impact of his realization that time is short for writing his book -- this book. I feel that pressure -- he makes it palpable.

I'm loving this still -- and I'm still of two minds -- anxious to finish and sad.

message 38: by Ricki (last edited Sep 24, 2007 07:54AM) (new)

Ricki | 611 comments I'm not sure where I am compared to where I should be - I've just about finished the part where he goes into the room and starts describing people whom he at first believes are dressed in costumes. I won't go on in case this is ahead.

Sesame and Lilies - Dash asked me to elaborate on what I said about it. Proust was helped in his translation of this by Marie Nordlinger, a cousin of Reynaldo Hahn, one of his lovers and his mother because he had difficulty with the English. His mother helped him in the translation - Proust said something about his strength was not in the language but in the understanding of art. In one of his letters to Marie he says, "Would it be possible for me to send you to Manchester- Galdville and all the rest - my copy of Sesame in which I have made crosses and underlined wherever I was in doubt? I am not swearing that you will resolve my doubt, but after all, it's possible. Thsi never applies to more than one or two words at a time. Does it seem to you practical? But you mustn't lost my copy, which contains all my wisdome, and which after that, you will return to me.
I fyou find this complicated, would it anny you if I turned to someone else for help with Litlies?

message 39: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Dottie,

You mention,

".... the language..." and how you "...find ... the language is more truncated in a larger percentage of the text -- not that I mean the sentences are at all short."

I've noticed a change too. I think, in my case, it is because till now I've been reading the Moncrieff translations. This last volume is by a man named Frederick A. Blossom. Previously I made mention of the "at bottom" phrase that Blossom uses. I don't remember Moncrieff using that phrase, which just goes to show how translations differ - unless there is really a difference in Proust. Who knows?



message 40: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Dash -- I often wonder about differences of translations and yet, since I've read one translation/edition of all the volumes I found that attempting another translation/edition unsettled me so gave up and returned to my original book though it meant lugging a thicker hard-cover around on travels. Maybe one day when I revisit a volume hit or miss, I'll tackle some variant translations.

Now -- today I read the portion where he's telling of the "lightbulb" moment when he figured out what all those stored memories could contribute to a book -- I could almost picture him doing that little happy dance that Snoopy is famous for -- and at one point he's referring to these memories jostling around in his mind -- in the margin I scrawled -- And what fine jostling!!!

I think the melancholic mood broke here in the jubilance of the inspiration -- fantastic.

Dottie -- on free wireless courtesy of Motel 6 on the first leg of the return journey to CA

message 41: by w.f.t. (new)

w.f.t. | 86 comments Dottie,

Thanks for lugging that big volume around, using Motel 6 WyFy and keeping us posted! I'm not sure I remember the "lightbulb" moment you mention. Does he use that word (lightbulb) or is that your interpretation?

It matters not really. But I need to get with the program and find out about Snoopy's dance - I admit a lack of erudition in the matter (I'm sure everyone will be appalled at this confession).

I have corresponded with our friend Martin Porter and he was unaware of this venue. Presently he is on his way to Naples to view Vesuvius and Pompeii, with his wife Ruth (?). I truly wish them Godspeed, and long for the day when I can visit there, Capri, and Greece, too - ah, some other life perhaps. But I hope when he comes home he will log in and drive his Proustian Flock like the "good shepherd" he is. The only acceptable excuse I afford him for his absence is the authorship of his Memoirs, or some other literary production (If he reads this I pray he takes in in jest).

But back to Proust: the things he says about writing i.e. the source of "books," is indeed, profound. One statement he makes seems truly original and profound to me:

Page 227 in the Modern Library edition of "The Past Recaptured," translated by Blossom,

"...any writer who so lowers himself as to use them accompanies with a little smile, a little grimace such as constantly disfigures the spoken phrase of a Sainte-Beuve, for example, whereas real books must be the product, not of broad daylight and small talk but of darkness and silence."

"Real books must be the product... of darkness and silence!"

Now think of the making of books without number, written in the light of the common day, that are merely "small talk," regurgitated for public consumption. I think Proust has this one right, and I think he paid the price to make a "classic."



message 42: by Ricki (new)

Ricki | 611 comments Dottie, Dash and Martin (if you are out there somewhere)

I have finished it and for all my frustrations during the read, I shall miss this immensely. I wanted to share with you all a part that I found beautiful... again, Dash, about writing...

"How much more worth livng did it appear to me now, now that I seemed to see that this life that we live in half-darkness can be illumined, this life that at every moment we distort can be restored to its true pristine shape, that a life, in short, can be realised within the confines of a book! How happy would he be, I thought, the man who had the power to write such a book! What a task awaited him! To give some idea of this task one would have to borrow comparisons from the loftiest and the most varied arts; for this writer - who, moreover, to indicate the mass, the solidity of each one of his characters must find means to display that character's most opposite facets - would have to prepare his book with meticulous care, perpetually regrouping his forces like a general conducting an offensive, and he would have also to endure his book like a form of fatigue, to accept it like a discipline, build it up like a church, follow it like a medical regime, fanquish it like an obstacle, win it like a friendship, cosset it like a little child, create it like a new world without neglecting those mysteries whose explanation is to be found probably only in worlds other than our own and the presentiment of which is the thing that moves us most deeply in life and in art. In long books of this kind there are parts which there has been time only to sketch, parts which, because of the very amplitude of the architect's plan, will no doubt never be completed. How many great cathedrals remain unfinished!. The writer feeds his book, he strengthens the parts of it which are weak, he protects it, but afterwards it is the book that grows, that designates its author's tomb and defends it against the world's clamour and for a while against its oblivious.. But to return to my own case, I thought more modestly of my book and it woudl be inaccurate even to say that I thought of those who would read it as 'my' reader. For it seemed to me that they would not be 'my' readers but the readers of their own selves, my book being merely a sort of magnifying glass like those which the optician at Combray used to offer his customers- it would be my book, but with its help I would furnish them with the means of reading what lay inside themselves."

I loved this passage - it seemed to possess the kernel of his ideas of writing this work and what a noble kernel. It reminded me of good parenting.

message 43: by Dottie (last edited Nov 01, 2007 11:31PM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 1444 comments Ricki -- that is a very revealing passage and so true on so many levels -- it certainly serves as explanation for the attraction once a reader has plunged into the book! I've stalled temporarily about midway in this volume but once I get resettled here in CA -- and fortunately we plan to stay put for a while now -- I will get moving again on the reading. Maybe by then Martin will be returned from his marvelous travels and we can all get into posting mode a bit more.


message 44: by Steve (new)

Steve (Capodistria) I am well into Within a Budding Grove and did a search for Proust discussions in Goodreads. Low and behold, I find that some of my own pals were discussing Proust exactly two years ago while I was in the midst of my rock star rehab. How delightful!

The posts here are excellent reading. There are just not enough of them. I had not been acquainted with Dash before. I take it that there had been some previous discussion of Proust leading up to this at the Constant Readers' old venue?

message 45: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6803 comments I have been wanting to tackle Remembrances Of Things Past again. I tried a few years ago,and didn't make much head way. Is there other translations, that are easier to read?

message 46: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6810 comments Steve, did you see this in the archives? There are two sets of discussions. Let me know if it doesn't work.

message 47: by Steve (new)

Steve (Capodistria) No, I did not, Sherry. Thank you ever so much. What a helluva moderator you are!

message 48: by Sherry, Doyenne (new)

Sherry | 6810 comments My goodness! Thanks, Steve.

message 49: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6803 comments What a great help. Thanks

message 50: by Carol (new)

Carol | 6803 comments I downloaded the entire discussion for later perusal. When I get up the nerve to try the book again, I think it will help. I am also going to look at different editions and see if there is one that I can draw from.

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