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The Guermantes Way

(À la recherche du temps perdu #3)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  6,242 ratings  ·  501 reviews
After the relative intimacy of the first two volumes of In Search of Lost Time, The Guermantes Way opens up a vast, dazzling landscape of fashionable Parisian life in the late nineteenth century, as the narrator enters the brilliant, shallow world of the literary and aristocratic salons. Both a salute to and a devastating satire of a time, place, and culture, The Guermante ...more
Kindle Edition, Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 640 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Penguin Classic (first published 1920)
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 ·  6,242 ratings  ·  501 reviews

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how can a sociopath love society so much??

because, make no mistake, that is what we are dealing with this third installment, our dear narrator graduates from being a feeble child, from being a lovesick adolescent into a manipulating, stalking, social climbing creature who learns a lesson in disillusionment. cheers.

for all his bookish intelligence, his overthinking, his lofty words, at the end of the day, he is just a pale sticky thing masturbating in society's stairwell.

this is his idea
In the first two volumes (I argue, anyway, in my review of A L'Ombre Des Jeunes Filles En Fleurs), Proust was most interested in putting romantic relationships under the microscope. He returns to that theme later on in the series, but in the third book he is primarily concerned with picking apart the concept of wit, more exactly, ésprit, something that has always been terribly important to the French upper classes. If you want an easier tour of the subject, you might like to check out Leconte's ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-language
Names with Power

According to Proust, proper names imply a soul, even for inanimate objects like cities. If something has a proper name, it somehow lives and has some sort of spiritual coherence. And the existence of such names has a specific effect on human beings. It provokes them to join with proper names in a sort of search for what this nominal soul, and their own, might consist of.

Guermantes is such a proper name. Guermantes is a person, in the first instance the Duchess but also her husba
Adam Dalva
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally the scheme of the novel as a whole comes into view, as the narrator uses the characters of book two (the always-gallant St. Loup and the outmoded Madame de Villeparisis) to try to ascend socially to the "pinnacle" of Mme de Guermantes's legendary salon. But along the way, we encounter two beloved characters from book one who have drastically changed, who are shown not to fit into what's required of Marcel's new world view. Three highlights: An incredible tour de force Balzacian 100 pages ...more
And even in my most carnal desires, oriented always in a particular direction, concentrated round a single dream, I might have recognized as their primary motive an idea, an idea for which I would have laid down my life, at the innermost core of which, as in my day-dreams while I sat reading all afternoon in the garden at Combray, lay the notion of perfection.

-Marcel Proust

I go forward slowly, dead, and my vision is no longer mine, it’s nothing: it’s only the vision of the human animal who, wit
the literary equivalent of that (genius but dull as rocks) 10 minute tracking shot in le week-end.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guermantes Way is like the pretentious, over-educated older sister of Budding Grove who constantly outdoes her little sister at everything. She's longer, she's more boring, she's more interesting, she's wittier and funnier, and she just loves to show off how much she knows.

We really get to know Saint Loup in this volume, as well as the Guermantes family in general - who are some pretty superficial crazies anyway. M., being a creep, stalks Mme. de Guermantes everyday on her morning walks, and be
No longer confined to orbiting his parents and living for the freedom of a solitary walk, no longer living in thrall of adolescent hormones and grappling with the strange new worlds blossoming both within and without himself, The Guermantes Way finds our Narrator thrust ever forward into adulthood and the disappointing discovery that grown-ups rarely behave like adults, especially when the pride of ancestral inheritance is on the line and there are duplicitous societal niceties to abide by, whil ...more
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
After being a little disappointed in the second volume of Proust, this one returns to the absolute wonderfulness of Swanns Way. I noticed that another reviewer commented on the addictive quality of Proust and I have to agree. A few weeks ago when I started Swanns Way I figured I'd read one of his books, and then maybe next summer go into the next one and leisurely through the remaining years of my thirties read one Proust book a year and enter into my forties being able to say that I'd read Prou ...more
This may be my favorite book of ISOLT so far. Yes there are moments that seemed to go on....and on...a bit, but overall I feel that the narrator became more real, more human, as did many of the people around him, including those who he has been studying from afar.

In The Guermantes Way, our unnamed narrator has matured somewhat, though his exact age remains unspecified. He is now attending the salons of those who he has admired from a distance, especially Mme de Guermantes, the woman he virtuall
--The Guermantes Way (In Search of Lost Time Volume III)

Back when I was reading Swann’s Way, I expressed the wish that Marcel would relax a bit and let his witty side come out to play more. At the time, things were generally pretty intense and serious inside his head. (Yes, in fact, I do know I have a knack for understatement, thank you.) Between the madeleine, his mother obsession and his painstaking, point-by-point dissection of Swann’s love-jealousy process, it was a rather relentless windstorm. But, it must have been about three-quarters through, ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit

“It is not possible to describe human life without bathing it in the sleep into which it plunges and which, night after night, encircles it like the sea around a promontory.” - Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Having recently read Anais Nin’s thoughts in The Novel of the Future, a book in which she lauded Proust and similar authors for being sensitive to the subconscious and incorporating elements of philosophy and psychology in their writing, I was very eager to start reading this volume. Nin
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ISoLT Completionists

We are attracted by every form of life which represents to us something unknown and strange, by a last illusion still unshattered.

I read this book in a purple haze of the summer daze–no, not the Hendrix variety, rather, a surreal read where words seemed to be scuttling across text, dropping off the pages, dimming when I focussed on them-closed the book, thinking, tomorrow is another day-& found no recollection of the previous day's read, started all over again... Didn't help that there wer
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Of the three volumes I've read so far, this is the one I loved most and found the most frustrating. Frustrating, from its beginning, with the narrator's obsession with Duchesse de Guermantes that mirrors his earlier obsessions, as if he hasn't learned anything, which is true: he hasn't learned a thing ... yet. This is a looking back on what he didn't know then with the knowledge he has now. So, of course, the reader sees before he does and to read of his later awareness is a joy ... mostly. T
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“But to ask pity of our body is like discoursing in front of an octopus, for which our words can have no more meaning than the sound of the tides, and with which we should be appalled to find ourselves condemned to live.”
― Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way


In 'The Guermantes Way', Proust pushes several social forces together. He examines the cult of aristocracy, meditates on the role of the military in French society, examines French antisemitism through the Dreyfus affair, French art, and the b
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Junta by: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove
20 June 2016: Something I should have posted as a progress update while reading, instead of here - (view spoiler)

Would like to write some sort of review for this soon!

Volume 1: Swann's Way
Volume 2: Within a Budding Grove
Volume 3: The Guermantes Way

8 July, 2016
Mar 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The third volume of In Search of Lost Time is the most Parisian of them all up to this point; that is to say, all of the events, with the exception of a brief jaunt to Doncieres to visit Robert de Saint-Loup at his barracks, take place within Paris, and more specifically, within the drawing rooms of the Faubourg St. Germain, the highest of the high of fin de siecle Parisian social circles. More so than the earlier volumes, The Guermantes Way is about the language of a society, about the customs ...more
ReemK10 (Paper Pills)
Induction into the Guermantes Way

"Sometimes, hidden in the heart of its name, the fairy is transfomed to suit the life of our imagination, by which she lives; thus it was that the atmosphere in which Mme de Guermantes existed in me, after having been for years no more than the reflexion of a magic lantern and of a stained glass window, began to lose its colours when quite other dreams impregnated it with the bubbling coolness of swift-flowering streams ." (MKE 3)

Expectation. This third volume of
Steven Godin
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This third entry of Proust's epic cycle of quiet remembrance sees him entering fully into adult life, and we are privileged once more with the opportunity to browse the strange aquarium of the existence he attempts to inhabit, insofar as his uniquely critical eye will allow him, becoming once more immersed in the wonderful details of his observations. Reading in big chunks is the best way to fully appreciate this work, reading some of it out aloud, like poetry almost. As other reviewers say, the ...more

Revisiting, via BBC R4x, all the books in remembrance, our world has altered too.

Description: Marcel discovers the staggering gulf between the fantasy and the reality of childhood enchantments.
Stars James Wilby.
Khashayar Mohammadi
Well, I gotta admit I read Proust exclusively for his signature page long soliloquies on subjective experience, and I often sit through a hundred pages of dull social interactions awaiting to be rejuvenated by the precision of his prose. Both "Swann's way" and "In the shadow of young girls in flower" catered to my taste very well, but "The Guermantes Way" kept me waiting and waiting and those rare few pages were hardly worth it.
W.D. Clarke
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself lingering on the front steps of the Duke and Duchess of Guermantes (whose lintel towers over us—indeed over even the superannuated, yet still, in her own esteem at least, well-connected iconoclast, Mme de Villeparisis—more ominously than the steepest sublimities of Mont Blanc) thinking of how that in the Garden of Genealogy there are many paths that one might take (not unlike those in the Gardens of the Ile de Bois de Boulogne, to which I designed to bring Mlle. de Stermaria upon ...more
Roy Lotz
Only I felt that it was not the sentence that was badly constructed but I myself that lacked the strength and ability necessary to reach the end. I would start afresh striving tooth and nail to climb to the pinnacle from which I would see things in their novel relations. And each time, after I had got about halfway through the sentence, I would fall back again, as later on, when I joined the Army, in my attempts at the exercise known as the 'bridge-ladder.'

Now, after more than a thousand pages
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-novels
Still dazzlingly written but with a focus on Parisian society and the salon system. Our narrator has grown up a little and appears to have developed into a serial stalker with a princess obsession. Albertine and Swann crop up again and we see more of Saint-Loup. We also see the profound effect the Dreyfuss affair is having on French society. A good working knowledge of the Dreyfuss affair is a pre-requisite for reading this volume, especially as much of it centres on Parisian society.
The writing
Richard Magahiz
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Proustians
This volume was harder to finish than the first two, because I am not naturally a fan of stories fascinated with silly celebrities. The nobles here are people known not so much for anything they think or do than for the antiquity of their genealogy and the extent of their fortunes. The Narrator character grows more and more fascinated with them for what they represent, taking a break from the obsessive attraction he's shown toward certain girls in the past. The second chapter starts out with a v ...more
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars for the project, four stars for the bulk of this installment, although it leaps beyond stars every once in a while, which keeps me reading/rating it five stars. It's tough to pull off hundreds of pages of shallow conversations in super-rich salons of bygone Paris, but MP does it. (I'll add a quotation later on that comes around page 725 that sums up the narrator's take on this one's excessive frivolous talk.) Scenes of conversations among sometimes insufficiently characterized artisto ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
If the first two volumes of La Recherche talked about the youth and innocence of the narrator and his world, Le Coté de Guermantes is his coming of age. He takes a bit of a back stage role as he observes (from his family's apartment which is modest but shares the same building as the luxurious Parisian hôtel particulier of the Guermantes) his best friend, Odette and Swann's swashbuckling son Robert de Saint-Loup go through several sulphurous affairs (particularly that with the ravishing Rachel) ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Volume Three of Proust’s masterpiece, “In Search of Lost Time,” is widely regarded to be the most difficult, and least popular, in the series and so I approached it with a little trepidation. Of course, assuming you are embarking on “The Guermantes Way,” you have almost certainly read the first two volumes – if not, they need to be read in order, so please do start at the beginning – and, as such, you will be comfortable with the style and pace of writing. This will help to make “The Guermantes ...more
Patricia Highsmith's Snail
Not my favourite of the three instalments so far! But my admiration grows the more I think about it. The novel is composed of two chapters - the first follows Marcel’s move to Paris and pursuit of the Duchesse de Guermantes and the second is just approx. 400 pages inside one of her famous salons. This is all connected by the debate over the Dreyfus affair and Marcel’s analysis of how it exposes the hypocrisies of the middle and upper class. The first part, which ends with his beloved grandmother ...more
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French novelist, best known for his 3000 page masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time), a pseudo-autobiographical novel told mostly in a stream-of-consciousness style. Born in the first year of the Third Republic, the young Marcel, like his narrator, was a delicate child from a bourgeois family. He was active in Parisian high society during t ...more

Other books in the series

À la recherche du temps perdu (7 books)
  • Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1)
  • In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower (In Search of Lost Time, #2)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (In Search of Lost Time, #4)
  • La Prisonnière (À la recherche du temps perdu, #5)
  • La fugitiva (En busca del tiempo perdido, #6)
  • Time Regained (In Search of Lost Time, #7)
“We may, indeed, say that the hour of death is uncertain, but when we say so we represent that hour to ourselves as situated in a vague and remote expanse of time, it never occurs to us that it can have any connexion with the day that has already dawned, or may signify that death — or its first assault and partial possession of us, after which it will never leave hold of us again — may occur this very afternoon, so far from uncertain, this afternoon every hour of which has already been allotted to some occupation. You make a point of taking your drive every day so that in a month’s time you will have had the full benefit of the fresh air; you have hesitated over which cloak you will take, which cabman to call, you are in the cab, the whole day lies before you, short because you have to be at home early, as a friend is coming to see you; you hope that it will be as fine again to-morrow; and you have no suspicion that death, which has been making its way towards you along another plane, shrouded in an impenetrable darkness, has chosen precisely this day of all days to make its appearance, in a few minutes’ time, more or less, at the moment when the carriage has reached the Champs-Elysées.” 19 likes
“Unkindness is inspired by hatred, anger fuels it into action in which there is no great joy; it would take sadism to turn it into something pleasurable; unkind people imagine themselves to be inflicting pain on someone equally unkind.” 13 likes
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