Nancy B.  Lipko

this is killing me, I can't get past a few pages without falling asleep. is this for fans of James Joyce or Tolstoy? I'm a Tolstoy. If this is for Joyce readers I might as well quit now.

To answer questions about Swann’s Way, please sign up.
Leanne Kidd For me, it has been the opposite experience. I LOVE this book so much that I can't wait to get home and read!
What can happen, if you allow it, is you get lulled into a kind of meditation, lost with him in his thought world. And once you emerge, if you have paid close attention without having expectations of how and what should happen next, you will feel like you have been on a journey with a dear friend.
Advice, only read this book when you have uninterrupted, quiet time. Allow yourself to get gently lost with no time or particular place to go to (that is, do not try to predict the way you want a story theme to unfold). Notice how one thought can lead into another, and another, and then he often returns so as to not leave us hanging. I feel that he is reflecting on the way our minds naturally wander. Go with him. Be there.
You may find that it is the best book you have ever read.
Also, the interpretation is important. I am currently reading the version of Swann's Way interpreted into (American) English by Lydia Davis. Excellent!
**the True Snow Queen** If it makes you feel better, I know exactly how you feel! I'm slogging through this. Half the time, I am charmed by the Proust's craftsmanship of his words...just WOW! But usually that's after reading that particular passage three times because I get drowsy and fall asleep with the book on my face and I have to go back and reread :(
Deanna Good luck! I suggest getting the audio version narrated by George Guidall, if you really want to finish. I also prefer Tolstoy to Joyce, and I found the print version of Swann's Way hard to get started, too. Proust isn't Tolstoy, but Swann's Way is definitely worthwhile. It's not a story with a strong central narrative, but it's a profound book that can benefit anyone. Imo it's one of the best books of all time. He writes about what's important, moments in life to savor, and how art, love and sensory experience impact us. Honestly, though, I am not sure i would've finished it in print!
Gizem Akıncı My god, I am so tired of reading about the beauty of flowers for pages and pages and pages.... The second half of the book, the part about Swann's love is a bit easier to get through. So, hang in there! :)
Octavio Solis Quit now if it's killing you. I'm right in step with his writing style, which is opulent and meandering. Actually, I'm finding some of the passages really funny. But if you're looking for story, a moment-to-moment narrative thread, you're going to get bored, frustrated or both. It feels like in this book, he's instructing us on how to read the ensuing volumes; the indulgences into his descriptions of the church in the little village town of Combray are not only to be appreciated for their poignant beauty and simplicity, but also for how they spark additional memories and the mental scenes created simply by evoking that tall steeple. He writes at length about his childhood conception of what the theatre was and how that shaped his experiences later on in his life. It's a very internal novel, and the world we are sensing and experiencing is all in his mind. He's telling us as much and training us to take in his novel in that utterly "modern" way. Which is really not so modern anymore. It's circular in its construction, not linear.
Darkwyng Gryph You're not alone. I've spent two entire years trying to read it, and only picked it up again this last month. Proust is all about the inner world and experiences, so you can get frustrated very easily if you're not ready for heavy descriptors of feelings, sensations and rememberances centered around one simple action.
It helped me to keep an inner summary on what is going on, especially during the first part. Also, try to read it when you don't have too many pressing matters on your mind. Once I had that, reading went a lot smoother, and I began to really enjoy the book. I hope it'll help you as well!
Bozo Couldn't wait to put this book down and go and get a big thrill watching grass grow.
Fabiana Garcia Oh I just finished the book (because I forced myself to) and found it absolutely boring. Endless pages of descriptions.... the flowers, the afternoon strolls, the church.... it does get a bit better on the Swann’s love part, but still this part is filled with boring and endless society’s gossips. His writing is obviously genius, but not my kind of book. I really wanted to read the whole collection of In Search of Lost Time, but after Swann’s way... I guess I’ve changed my mind.
Agatha I think the most difficult part of "In search of Lost time" to read is "Swann's way". I don't know if it is the same for others, I had to struggle to finish the first half. But I couldn't wait to read the next volumes.
Jorge Kapa same here but some moments were pure magic. i struggled a little bit but it definitely payed off
Cezar Martins The beginning is not easy, but it´s a good book after the first chapter.
Gerald Wright Swann's Way is not at all like Tolstoy, which is about individuals caught up within historical forces. But it's not at all like Joyce, either, even though one would think that they are connected by virtue of Modernism and "stream of consciousness." To me, Joyce (and Woolfe) try to recreate the inner life of a character at the moment of perception or pre-conscious thought. (Deconstructing the thought processes of Leonard Bloom wasn't so difficult, but Stephen Deadalus... forgetaboutit!!). But Proust is representing the act of remembering, unearthing and unleashing memories - often involuntary ones, such as in the famous Madeleine scene. So the long sentences are, in a way, perfectly logical representations of the mind wandering where it will, re-experiencing moments of the past but also trying to understand them - hence, the myriad similes and metaphors.

Upshot: Proust is easier than Joyce -- or Swann's Way is easier then Ulysses. But, as noted by many others, it requires it's own way of reading.
James Horgan Tolstoy rather than Joyce but it helps if you have read lots of Puritans, whose sentences also run on like paragraphs, and patent claims, which do likewise.

Treat it as something lush, to bathe in, rather than race through. Don't overexpect of yourself reading it.
Arek I can only recommend to read first "How can Proust can change your life" by Alain de Botton. It really ties the book together.
The style of Proust is closer to XIX century than modern literature, many things may be overlooked and sometimes it's hard to understand why he's taking so much time to describe some banal stuff but De Botton makes a brilliant job in making reader more aware of the moments which are truly relatable to the modern reader.
Stefan Szczelkun If you see it as a critique of upward mobility and a disgust at aristocratic life style its more interesting than getting bogged down in the clever descriptive passages. He compares a child's outlook (first part) to the adult reality showing how the most distinguished person, Swann, is wracked by the same painful emotions as we all are.
Sakura Tsuki I can understand you perfectly. Usually I read in public transport, I had never fallen asleep so many times with a book.
Eduardo Vieira I finished the first chapter! Wohoo!!

I am trying to read it for the second time. At the first time, some years ago, I fell sleep on every 2 pages...

No offense, the long periods are very well crafted and beautiful. But we live in the tweeter age! You have to be extremely motivated to go through!

Now I reached the Madeleine and the story will begin...
Julie Rylie I'm so happy I'm not alone!! And this actually really reminded me of Anne Karenina, but that one I actually liked and went through with it, even with difficulty at times.
Image for Swann’s Way
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more