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Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  32 reviews
During the Second World War, as a prisoner of war in a Soviet camp, and with nothing but memory to go on, the Polish artist and soldier Józef Czapski brought Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time to life for an audience of prison inmates. In a series of lectures, Czapski described the arc and import of Proust’s masterpiece, sketched major and minor characters in striking ...more
Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published November 6th 2018 by NYRB Classics (first published 1948)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  130 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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C’è un ufficiale polacco, un aristocratico pittore e scrittore, che nel 1941 è prigioniero dei russi in un gulag dalle parti del confine con la Finlandia: non è la Siberia, ma anche qui i lavori forzati sono all’aperto, e all’aperto la temperatura arriva a meno quaranta proprio come nella Kolyma.

Józef Czapski nacque a Praga il 3 aprile del 1896 e morì a Parigi il 12 gennaio del 1993.

Un uomo magro e alto due metri, che ama la pittura, la letteratura, l’arte in genere – u

The most extraordinary thing about the pages of this book is not so much what they contain but that they exist at all.

Joseph Czapski (1896-1993), born in Prague but in a family of the Polish nobility, was lucky to escape the massacre in Katyn in 1940, in which it is estimated that 22,000 people were executed by the Soviets. He then became a prisoner in the concentration camp of Griazowietz in Russia for eighteen months. This camp had originally been a pilgrimage site and a convent.

Before Czapski

Despite his name figuring prominently in the the title of the book, Proust is not the primary subject of this account of a combat against degradation; he is simply the vehicle for this unique story of bravery and stoicism in the face of death.

When the German army entered Polish territory on the 1st of September 1939, Joseph Czapski, aged 43, a former officer in the Polish army, rejoined his regiment and was sent to fight on the Russian front. By the 27th of the month he was a Soviet prisoner of
Proust contro la decadenza.

Eppure a me la "quinta scenica" è mancata, anche se purtroppo si tratta, si trattava, di gelida realtà, quella del realmente gelido refettorio del convento sconsacrato di Griazowietz, in Siberia, dove Czapski, tenuto prigioniero, si incontrava con gli altri detenuti polacchi.
Le lezioni su Proust che Czapski teneva agli altri ufficiali polacchi (lui e poche altre centinaia di ufficiali polacchi furono fra gli scampati al massacro di Katyn a fronte degli undicimila ucci
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
8 marzo

Conosco una persona che, in un periodo difficile della sua vita, imparò a memoria la Medea di Euripide (una delle sue tragedie preferite) per poter recitare a se stessa i versi nei momenti in cui la sofferenza sembrava sopraffarla. E so che queste sue private rappresentazioni le hanno regalato momenti di reale libertà dal dolore, e imprevedibili lampi di gioia. E poiché questa persona è una donna, oggi le dedico il mio piccolo commento a questo libro che è, oltre una piacevole e raffinata
Vivek Tejuja
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Off-late, I have been reading a lot about memory and the passage of time and that has happened quite organically. There is no planned reading list around it. It just happened by the by and one of those books happened to be Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Camp by Józef Czapski.

The concept of suffering isn’t new to humans. We have been suffering one way or the other – in one situation or the other for decades and centuries. Of course, a certain group of people suffer more at any given p
BAM The Bibliomaniac
The author is quite modest about how great is his accomplishment in Lost Time. As he's being tortured, overworked, sleep deprived, starved he can still find the strength and inspiration to lecture his fellow prisoners on the beauty and meaning of Proust and his writing. Just beautiful a spiritual experience
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
il libro di czapski mi ha portato a riflettere più che su proust, sebbene le sue idee sullo scrittore francese siano più che condivisibili, sul tema della memoria (che in proust è argomento centrale). Non è un caso che la memoria fosse per la Grecia antica la madre di tutte le muse. oramai ci siamo ridotti ai sussidi tecnologici, alla opportunità di tenere sotto mano le cose che leggiamo, di recuperarle con un click. Non è una critica al progresso, ma un rimpianto per quello che stiamo perdendo, ...more
Jim Coughenour
One of those “might be interesting” books that became an experience in the reading, a completely unassuming lost text resurrected thanks to Eric Karpeles (author of Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time). Czapski’s lectures were delivered in unimaginable conditions - a Soviet concentration camp in the midst of World War II. The prisoners were Polish officers, a tiny group who had been spared (unknown to them) the fate of thousands of their fellow officers, who’d been ...more
Justin Evans
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Five stars for the back-story, three stars for general Proustiana, but really, unless you're obsessed with Proust, this is not even remotely worth reading. You can get the back story from a solid goodreads review. If you are obsessed with Proust, on the other hand, this is a delightful little squib.
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when it first came out in French, and just re-read it in Karpeles's English translation. A Proust scholar will find perhaps little that they would consider new in terms of research, and the main interest of the book may be its context. While imprisoned in Gryazovets, a Russian camp near Vologda, located in a bombed-out monastery, Czapski participated in a series of sometimes authorized, sometimes clandestine lectures: inmates would discourse from memory on any topic dear to them ...more
Locus Amoenus
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"THIS ESSAY on Proust was dictated in the winter of 1940–41 in the cold refectory of an abandoned convent that served as the mess hall of our prison camp at Gryazovets in the Soviet Union."

At Gryazovets, Czapski and a group of fellow Polish officers were being imprisoned and forced into hard labor. This, in itself, was remarkable, since most of their fellow officers had been executed outright. Only this small group survived.

The officers decided to continue with a project that had begun in one of
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent, wonderful evocation of the world view of Proust. I was left with an intense desire to reread In Search of Lost Time. I took a look in "Swann's Way" and it really was better than I remembered it. I am inspired, and for the next two or three months, I'm not too busy.
Arvind Radhakrishnan
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant analysis of Proust's 'In Search of Lost Time'.I enjoyed it immensely.Salut to Czapski. Makes me want to read Proust once again! :)
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Czapski's "lectures" on Proust's Search are remarkable, considering they were given in a Soviet prison camp in the winter of 1940. A Polish army officer- one of only a few hundred not purged by Nazis/Soviets - created these out of memory. Just recently translated to English.
Sherry Fyman
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure it would stand as a commentary on Proust where it not for the conditions Czapski delivered his observations, but those conditions make it well worth the read. I read it mainly to honor the human spirit and remind myself that books go to the heart of our survival as human beings.
Don Wentworth
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, proust
There is the book and the story of how the book came to be and the story which the book is about. Of these, which is more incredible need be left to the reader but, simply, they all are transcendent in their own way.

In two Soviet prison camps during World War Two, captured Polish officers, first at Starobielsk (4,000 officers) and later Grayazovets, (400 officers - after the transfer from one camp to many others, the balance of 3600 officers were never seen again), "tried to make up a kind of in
Nathalia T.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
"A lenta e dolorosa transformação do homem passional e estreitamente egoísta em homem que se entrega absolutamente a uma ou outra obra que o devora, o destrói, que vive de de seu sangue é um processo que se coloca diante de todo criador. "Se o grão não morre"... Se falamos do artista criador, essa transformação se realiza de uma maneira diferente, mais ou menos consciente, mas quase geral. Goethe dizia que, na vida do homem criador, a biografia deve e pode contar até os trinta anos de idade, dep ...more
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Lectures on Proust's "A La Recherche..." delivered to prisoners of Nazi concentration camp by one of their own, Jozef Czarski. All of it is from memory since he had no other resource available, and all subject to censorship.
Czarski was a Polish aristocrat artist and an army officer in WW II. Tens of thousands of Polish army prisoners disappeared; why these four hundred officers were spared is unknown.

Bergson's philosophy of time influenced the form that Proust created for his work, to portray c
Scott Catey
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring book. Czapski's memory and ability to recall A la recherché du temps perdu without the books and under the duress of confinement in a Soviet gulag is impressive and humbling. Well worth reading both for the interpretation of Proust and for the sense of life the undergirds Czapski's narrative. Human being may be able to adapt to any difficulties, and Czapski demonstrates how literature and imagination can help to survive extremely difficult circumstances.

Karpeles' translatio
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
It is amazing that the author was lecturing about Proust in a Soviet prison camp. Firstly because he was one of the few Polish officers who was not killed by the Soviets when they invaded Poland during World War II. Secondly that he gave camp lectures on Proust.

I did have a bit more desire to read Proust, but the lectures did not convince me. Frankly, I don't want to read novels written by the man. I guess I am not much for romances and love stories. I did get an understanding about why some pe
Tom Wascoe
Mar 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Translated by Eric Karpeles, Jozef Czapski was a Polish shoulder who was a prisoner of war with the Russians. To amuse themselves, because they did not have any books, they conducted lectures on various subjects. Czapski, one of only 350 out of 22,000 Polish officers to survive, lectured on Proust with whom he was intimately familiar. He did an admirable job considering he had no books with which to work.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Een uiterst dun boekje met de lezingen over Proust, die Czapski hield toen hij in een Russisch gevangenkamp zat aan het begin van WWII. De lezingen zijn aardig, maar uiteraard zeer beperkt door de omstandigheden waarin ze werden gegeven. Er zijn veel aanvullingen door de schrijver en de vertaler en dat maakt een en ander wel duidelijker. Je krijgt vooral waardering voor de schrijver, omdat hij in zijn vreselijke omstandigheden het nog opbracht om deze lezingen te houden.
Hugh Coverly
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing analysis of Proust and his great novel. There are numerous errors in Jósef Czapski’s remembrance of In Search of Lost Time, but his analysis is generally spot on. I wish that Czapski had further developed these lectures after the war; I also wish he never had to endure the hardships and deprivations that led to them.
James Klagge
As several reviewers have said, the back story is more interesting than the book.
I am getting psyched up to read Proust, and I thought this might get me going. It did offer some things to look for. Wish me luck...
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dunno that I'll ever read Proust, but this lecture, composed in the most incredible circumstances, is a beautiful tribute to his seminal work.
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A gem of a book that has much to offer even those who haven't read Proust. I still have the last volume to read, but these lectures have inspired me to go back to Volume 1.
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.
Jack Dawson
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Simple and stunnng.

Enjoyed this short introduction to Proust and his philosophy immensely. Highly recommend reading this and other works by the same author.
Amante Libri
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Da leggere necessariamente dopo aver letto la Recherche.

Proust a Grjazovec
Józef Czapski
Traduzione: Barbara Delfino
Editore: Adelphi
Pag: 125
Voto: 4/5
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Józef Marian Franciszek Czapski (ang Joseph Czapski) (April 3, 1896 – January 12, 1993) was a Polish artist, author, and critic, as well as an officer of the Polish Army. As a painter, he is notable for his membership in the Kapist movement, which was heavily influenced by Cézanne. Following the Polish Defensive War, he was made a prisoner of war by the Soviets and was among the very few officers ...more
“The ensuing heartbreak produces the same result—a feeling of unreality, and the awareness that the pleasures of life and a final understanding of it exist in the act of creation, the sole true life and true reality.” 1 likes
“The slow and painful transformation of a passionate and narrowly egotistical being into a man who gives himself over wholly to some great work or other that devours him, destroys him, lives in his blood, is a trial every creative being must endure.” 1 likes
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