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Remembrance of Things Past: Volume II - The Guermantes Way & Cities of the Plain

(À la recherche du temps perdu #3-4)

4.52  ·  Rating details ·  973 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Paperback, 1216 pages
Published August 27th 1982 by Vintage (first published 1922)
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May 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: pederasts, pedants, invalids, francophiles
If the cares of this world have grown far too painful and you're thinking of becoming a junkie or born-again Christian, I'd suggest that you take a less drastic step, and consider trying out Proust first, just to see how it grabs you. This is what's known in my business as a "harm reduction" approach: like addiction and religious conversion, hardcore Proust reading will suck up your time, alter your character, transform your life, and cause all your friends to hate you. You'll become completely ...more
Timothy Hallinan
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In this, the third volume of what I'm coming to believe is the greatest novel ever written, the world of privileged--which is to say, entitled and rich--society opens to us. The first volume, SWANN'S WAY, begins on the level of a bourgeois household in the provinces (the narrator's), even taking its title from one of the walks the narrator's family regularly takes in the village of Combray, where they spend their summers. It begins with the famous (and almost insurmountable) sequence in which ...more
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
(part two of three)

The novel’s third book, The Guermantes Way, begins with a move by Marcel’s family from their previous Paris home to a new flat that is part of the Hotel de Guermantes. And thus they now live literally in the shadow of the great Guermantes family, the family whose history and possessions have fascinated Marcel since his days as a child in Combray. Whereas in Swann’s Way, “the Guermante Way” referred to the route sometimes taken on an afternoon’s walk, in this book it refers to
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
currently reading... the second 1000 pages goes a lot quicker than the first.

if you want a complete experience reading the proust, its actually necessary to read the last volume first, otherwise you really have no idea what to be following in the first 1000 pages
Aug 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
this became more of a chore than the first two volumes. but proust's dissection/destruction of the salon is so absolute -- and the closing scenes with swann, le duc et m. charlus so devastating - that i'll be going on to book 4 after a brief pause.
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
the opening to Cities of the Plain is perhaps my favorite prose piece ever written.
Michael Battaglia
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As disconcerting as it can be to painstakingly grind one's way through a thousand pages of an extraordinarily dense novel and realize that you're only a third of the way through it, it actually does get easier once you pass that first volume (admittedly quite the hurdle) and move into the second volume. A combination of me slowly getting used to Proust's knotted sentence structures (seriously, they're not just like a snake attempting to eat themselves but like a snake going back in time to eat ...more
Simon Mcleish
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in February and March 1999.

The Guermantes Way

In the third volume of Remembrance of Things Past, the subject changes. From boyhood in Swann's Way, through adolescent lovesickness in Within A Budding Grove, Proust's narrator now emerges into Parisian society. The Guermantes are one of the oldest noble families in France, and he gradually becomes involved in their circle. (The title of this part also balances that of the first one, in that the two walks taken by
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have always understood what Proust meant about that flood of memories a sensory experience from our past can trigger in us - that sweeping involuntary memory that virtually obliterates the passing of time. But I had another sort of memory experience recently when reading some diary entries I made 35 years ago as a heart-broken teenager. I felt as though I was a ghostly apparition at the actual events recorded in the diary because I could often call to mind at least some little wisp of a memory ...more
Steve Gordon
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"'As for all the little people who call themselves Marquis de Cambremerde or de Vatefairefiche, there is no difference between them and the humblest private in your regiment. Whether you go and do wee-wee at the Countess Caca's or caca at the Baroness Wee-wee's, it's exactly the same, you will have compromised your reputation and have used a fetid rag instead of toilet paper. Which is unsavoury.'"- Baron de Charlus. Over 1100 pages in Volume II, which is a long haul, but, my, what a magnificent ...more
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If you have not yet read Proust, please put aside whatever else you might be reading. Better yet, get rid of it. There is hardly a point. Literature, life, art, love, yearning, the mind, brothels, dinners, celebrities, fashion, aesthetics, cookies, insomnia, the beach, France, mothers, the theater, obsession, flowers, and memory, to name just a few, are perfectly captured here. Writing before Proust is little but a long prologue; after him, side notes. Also, if you're curious about Proust, ...more
Therese Broderick
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Yes, verily, over the course of 27 years, my husband and I did promenade through all three massive volumes of this First Vintage Books Edition. Our habit was to sit together in the evening, usually for fifteen minutes around 10pm, one of us reading aloud to the other. Finishing the last page left me with mixed feelings: a sense of triumph at our completed marathon, admiration for Proust whose sweeping arc of narrative came to an eloquent close, and sadness that our journey through his pages had ...more
Anne Holcomb
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: runners, thrift-store shoppers
Shelves: fiction, classics
Whew! I finally got through The Guermantes Way and am on to S & G. I put Proust down for a couple years but now I am back, baby, ready to finish it all by
the time I turn 30 hopefully. I will be adding my imrpressions as I read, no doubt.

My best comparisons for reading Proust are A:
long distance running and B: searching through a really huge thrift store. It's going to be long and grueling, but it will be unforgettable, you'll be a healthier person, and you'll be glad you did it in the
Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loved Swann's Way
Unbelievable... I actually reached the ending. I wasn't entirely sure there was an ending. I thought maybe pages quietly added themselves, possibly from the front of the book to the back, while I slept every knight.


I think everyone should read Proust's first volume; it's one of the loveliest things I've ever embarked on. After that is purely elective, although I love what I've gotten through, thus far.

This book is not a fast read. ... However, I've properly picked it up again, and I can see
Kathie Harper
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Marcel has returned to Balbec, actually Cabourg, my favorite setting in this series. There are more salons, the Verdurins transplanted from Paris for the summer season and all the characters that attend, some old and some new. Marcel is still conflicted about his love life and the book ends with a surprise. I'm just elated to be more than half way finished with this quest~
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It took me a year to read all three of the books of "Remembrance of Things Past." I limited myself to reading ten pages a day, which is the only way one can read Proust and remain interested. Some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read was in these books, and also some of the most boring. On the whole, I gave the books five stars because the beauty outweighed the boredom enormously.
Beth Roberts
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Re Guermantes Way: Fascinating. Odd, both book and style and narrator. Can't wait for the next one.

Re Cities of the Plain: Yet odder. Must have been scandalous at the time, although the understated tone underplays the scandal. But the idea of the narrator getting married is truly shocking.
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
A hard slog through 3500 pages in all 3 volumes - I set aside a summer when not working to get through them. Some sentences are more that a page long. Patience required. The story of Albertine, that threads through several volumes, is one of the most interesting parts of the opus.
Anthony Vaver
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This volume includes the two books from Proust's novel that bridges the narrator's innocence as a young boy and the realization that a darker reality often lies behind our experiences.
Andrew Corrie
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
More from the Master. A long time since I read this, but it must be the one with the reflection of the sea in the panes of glass in the bookcase...
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The 7 volume series was a required reading in college. It took me back to my whirl wind of reading prior to HS and all the book I got into.
I would recommend everyone read the entire collection.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: classic, translation
I am once again swimming against the tide of four and five star reviews that litter this site, as they did for the first volume of Proust's very long novel, but I cannot in good conscience claim that I think this book is good or enjoyable or that it is rightfully called one of the great pieces of literature from the last century.

Why Remembrance of Things Past (or as the title is sometimes translated, In Search of Lost Time) has obtained this reputation is beyond me. Our protagonist is a
Denis Southall
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written dense prose capturing the social and political mores of the pre first world war era France. This doesn't begin to describe how good it is but I doubt I could add to what's been said about this body of work over the century or so since it was written.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
Did not keep me intrigued. It was good to help me sleep.
Will Drickey
Area Man Discovers Lesbians
Jao Yogimota
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just part two same routine
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Okay, this is to mark making it through "The Germantes Way," now slowly into Cities of the Plain. I can't say that I find reading Proust as enthralling as some who have showered these books with 5 stars and it is not the type of read that I "can't put down." I am fascinated by the extreme detail, of the youth growing up with all the feelings and infatuations and fantasies that the narrator has. It is a portrait of a society, seen through the eyes of one individual that appears incredibly shallow ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Guermantes Way -- Read 4 Oct to 5 Dec, 2002
Cities on the Plain -- Read 17 Dec to 13 Feb, 2003

I sometimes tell people that the first three books are prologue and it really begins around book 4. A technique that he uses is that of repeating the same story over and over, except that he changes one or two things in between each telling and therefor makes it a completely different story the second time. I was utterly in awe throughout most of Cities on the Plain, and still am.
May 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
The rule among the human race—a rule that naturally admits of exceptions—is that the reputedly hard are the weak whom nobody wanted, and that the strong, caring little whether they are wanted or not, have alone the gentleness which the vulgar herd mistakes for weakness.” 1080
Alec Sieber
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
No change in quality from the first volume. Here, the narrator enters society, and continues to derive insights of remarkable delicacy and profundity from the most superficial social relations. Some great comic moments here, especially from the at turns tragic and ludicrous invert, M. de Charlus.
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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

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)
  • The Guermantes Way  (In Search of Lost Time, #3)
  • 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)
“Love is not vain because it is frustrated, but because it is fulfilled. The people we love turn to ashes when we posess them.” 204 likes
“Nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect. They need at least a doctor who understands the disease. How can you expect Cottard to be able to treat you? He has made allowances for the difficulty of digesting sauces, for gastric trouble, but he has made no allowance for the effect of reading Shakespeare.” 5 likes
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