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Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1)
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Swann's Way, vol. 1 > Through Sunday, 17 Feb.: Swann's Way

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message 1: by Kris, Obsessive Comproustive (last edited Jan 04, 2013 08:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris (krisrabberman) | 136 comments Mod
This thread is for the discussion that will take place through Sunday, 17 Feb. of Swann's Way, to page 529 in ML / page 386 in LD (to the paragraph beginning: “On certain evenings...”)


message 2: by Fionnuala (last edited Feb 11, 2013 04:01AM) (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments I've just started this section and I'm enjoying all the social satire in the first pages, the objective gaze Swann feels able to cast on the pomp and ceremony of these wealthy and titled people, and what a relief his caustic eye is after the self flagellation of the last section. Also very welcome are the little reminders of Combray and its hawthorns which we, the readers feel we love almost as much as does Swann himself.

....ah, I spoke too soon about Swann not beating himself up over Odette, he has started to obsess again...

...and now his sorrowful thoughts have taken on a musical air so that we can hear the violins....
(is that where that phrase ' I can hear the violins' comes from, perhaps?)


message 3: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
I have enjoyed the discussion of the music played at the concert at the marquise de Saint-Euverte. For us this repertoire is made out of “classics” (the unquestionable Liszt, Chopin and Wagner), but the pieces are here presented in their perceived relative modernity.

Liszt’s St Francis preaching to the Birds, from the 1860s, an impressionistic work, seems welcome by this society, but the Chopin, in spite of the beautiful description (les phrases au long col sinueux et démesuré) is presented as old-fashioned (from 1830s and early 40s – la beauté démodée de cette musique semblait défraîchie). And finally, Wagner is alluded as the peak in musical taste.


message 4: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Feb 11, 2013 11:54AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
On the Cambremer name, can both Karen (Compagnon) and Fionnuala (Milly) tell us if their editions have a foot note on this?

Enfin ces Cambremer ont un nom bien étonnant. Il finit juste à temps, mais il finit mal! dit-elle en riant.
-Il ne commence pas mieux, répondit Swann...
-En effet, cette double abréviation!..
-C'est quelqu'un de très en colère et de très convenable qui n'a pas osé aller jusqu'au bout du premier mot.


I understand the play with then ending (mer - merde), but the Cambre bit.. from "se cambrer".. connotations?


message 5: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Proustitute wrote: "Kalliope, Davis makes a note of the pun on Cambremer:

"The joke here, on the name Cambremer, sees it as being made up of abbreviations of Cambronne and merde (shit). Le mot de Cambronne, 'Cambronn..."


Thank you.. I could not get the Cambronne part... Funny, because "cabrona" is a bad word in Spanish...!

Poor Mme Cambremer..!, she was before Mlle Legrandin (another joke on the name).


message 6: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Proustitute wrote: "Poor her indeed. She is double-merde."

Yes.. not a good double..

Here it is...!!!

http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/franc...


message 7: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Kalliope wrote: I understand the play with then ending (mer - merde), but the Cambre bit.. from "se cambrer".. connotations? ""

Yes, I had thought it was a play on an exagerated posture, pushing the torso out, as in 'se cambrer', since Proust had emphasised a similar overly proud posture in the case of Mme de Gallardon. My book has no footnotes about it.

Proustitute's explanation is interesting.


message 8: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Kalliope wrote: I understand the play with then ending (mer - merde), but the Cambre bit.. from "se cambrer".. connotations? ""

Yes, I had thought it was a play on an exagerated posture, pushing t..."


Yes, I also thought of the "se cambrer", which I think was also used in an earlier description of M. Legrandin, when he is outside the church in the Combray section. But it is what Proustite/L Davis says.


message 9: by Eugene (last edited Feb 11, 2013 05:31PM) (new)

Eugene | 479 comments In the mornings when I'm fresher I read Proust, in the evenings I read books about Proust and the discussions here. Last night in Bales' The Cambridge Companion to Proust Hollie Markland Harder gave me a different perspective through which to see my morning reading--that of comedy--in her Proust's Human Comedy.

"Whereas Greek tragedy repeated the sacred stories of ancient myth that addressed life, death and fate, classical Greek comedy exposed deficiencies in social practices, institutions and individuals, thereby anchoring the comic in the domain of the human rather than of the sacred. Originally, then, comedy was not by nature amusement but rather a way to bring social, political, or moral behavior into line with society's norms'."p. 136

It's easy to laugh at the absurdities in the little clan of the Verdurin salon as it is easy to laugh at the farcical pretenses of attendees at Mme. Saint-Euverte's party but what about Swann, ravaged by his love, by his desire to possess, by his jealousy, what about him as he depressingly climbs the steps to Mme. Saint-Euverte's party thinking of, wanting to be with Odette.

Swann is certainly not funny, most of the time, but isn't he a comedic character by classical Greek standards.



Martin Gibbs | 105 comments ... again this week we see how Proust reads deep into the heart and puts to paper words and phrases that are hard to capture. This phrase, for instance, grabs me. When I read it, memories flood back from my own past, but still I cannot describe them better than Proust.

"But he thought of the house in which he might have been at this very moment, if Odette had permitted it, and the memory he glimpsed of an empty milk can on a dormat wrung his heart."

p. 338 (LD)


message 11: by Fionnuala (last edited Feb 12, 2013 12:46AM) (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Phyllida, great idea to make a list of characters. And of course there are two Mmes de Cambremer but it is the younger one who is M Legrandin's sister and so she must be the one referred to in the Combray section, when she would have been no longer a young bride but more middle aged like Legrandin himself
Eugene, it's probably useful for me to try to think of Swann as a figure of comedy - his tragic meditations are indeed beginning to border on the comic.
Martin, another madeleine moment?
Kalliope, regarding the music in this section and in particular, the meditations on 'la petite phrase', isn't it interesting that the literary associations it inspires in Swann all concern stories of a love which breaks the rules, René, Tristram, etc.?


message 12: by Eugene (new)

Eugene | 479 comments Almost three years ago I began reading Proust for his sentences; I still read him for his sentences, now along with other things like his characterization for example. Here Jeremy Eichler, the Boston Globe music critic, writes in The Proust Project edited by André Aciman, "His long spiraling sentences unspool in the mind the way a warm sinuous melody by Brahms might unspool in the air."

Swann on the little phrase:

Of those sorrows of which it used to speak to him and which, without being affected by them, he had seen it carry along with it, smiling, in its rapid and sinuous course, of those sorrows which had now become his own, without his having any hope of ever being free of them, it seemed to say to him as it had once said of his happiness: "What does it matter? It means nothing." LD p. 361


message 13: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Phyllida, great idea to make a list of characters. And of course there are two Mmes de Cambremer but it is the younger one who is M Legrandin's sister and so she's the one referred to in the Comray..."

Yes, the elder Cambremer is the one who likes the old fashioned Chopin (and keeps time bobbing her head) and her daughter in law is the one who despises his music and likes Wagner.

Fionnuala, I had not noticed the association with the love stories that break the rules... will reread that section...!!! Thank you, very interesting.


message 14: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Eugene wrote: "In the mornings when I'm fresher I read Proust, in the evenings I read books about Proust and the discussions here. Last night in Bales' The Cambridge Companion to Proust Hollie Markland Harder gav..."

Eugene,

This is a very interesting comment, Swann as a comic character in the Classical tradition.. I definitely will have to get the Bales volume, after reading your and Nick’s comments.

This takes me to what, to me, is the main interest in the Un amour de Swann section. Although I see that the social portraits, whether of the Verdurin or the marquise de Sainte-Everte circles, the situation of the demi-mondaines, etc… are important, for me they are not the main interest of this section. Proust wrote “society columns” for various publications during a certain period of time, as well as his funny pastiches (neither of which helped him when he tried to find a publisher for the manuscript of this novel). He therefore had a view of social behaviors, but I do not think that in his writings before WWI social criticism (at least understood in the realist tradition) was a main concern for him. That may be more present in his later volumes--that I do not know yet.

For me the main interest in this part of the book is the acute and piercing analysis of how a man gradually falls prey to a passion that completely eats away his own nature. The narrator focuses on how this man is taken over by an obsession with something that has little to do with the way he supposedly is, with what interests him etc… This loss of self becomes like a fall into hell, a visit to an internal underworld. I expect that when, and if, this self emerges again it must be transformed.


message 15: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Kalliope wrote: This loss of self becomes like a fall into hell, a visit to an internal underworld. I expect that when, and if, this self emerges again it must be transformed.

Yes, I agree that this is the main theme of Un Amour de Swann, and I hope also that the outcome will be as you predict.


message 16: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick Wellings | 322 comments Kalli, the Bales really is the best essay collection on Proust, in my eyes. When you can justify it as a purchase, you'll be well rewarded on reading it.

Fionnuala and Kalliope out of interest, what transformation are you hoping for or if not hoping, expecting in or from Swann?


message 17: by Fionnuala (last edited Feb 12, 2013 05:33AM) (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Nick, in the Combray section, we got a partial view, but really quite an oblique one, of the future Swann through the Narrator's child's eyes and mainly in terms of how Swann and his evening visits affected the Narrator's life. I am curious to see a more complete picture of Swann in that later period and I would like to find that, having suffered through his 'passion', he will have achieved some redemption, some recovery of what Kalliope called 'his real self'.


message 18: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Feb 12, 2013 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Nick wrote: "Kalli, the Bales really is the best essay collection on Proust, in my eyes. When you can justify it as a purchase, you'll be well rewarded on reading it.

Fionnuala and Kalliope out of interest, wh..."


Nick,

I will certainly get the Bale book. But as I have already several auxiliary readings, I will evaluate later on, and ask your help, the order to follow... But not until I have read, at least, about 3/4 of the whole work should I tackle these...!

I am not expecting anything in particular for our Sawnn-Orpheo as he comes back from Hades.. He may stay in hell (continue with Odette as before), he may go to purgatory (resign himself to her and even marry her), or come back as a transfigured person...(finish the study on Vermeer and find himself a more suitable companion)!!!

LOL..


message 19: by Eugene (new)

Eugene | 479 comments Kalliope wrote on Swann: "...I expect that when, and if, this self emerges again it must be transformed."

Very interesting Kalliope, transformation.

From the Combray section we know that the Narrator's parents think of Odette as making a cuckold of her husband, Swann, and in front of Gilberte, their child. But going back in time, Swann transforms (or begins to) in this week's reading when he hears Vinteuil's sonata at Mme. Saint-Euverte's party, when he confronts art or when art confronts him.

Proust writes in passages, or to use a more modern term in modules, and sometimes these passages coincide with a single paragraph, more often they span several. To describe Swann hearing the sonata Proust writes, for him so far, a lengthy passage (LD p. 357-366) and this passage contains several longer than usual paragraphs concluding with a new one beginning with "From that time on, Swann..." Swann is 'transformed', his tone becomes cooler, more reflective, at times disinterested (Kant), in the rest of this week's reading.

I must reread that passage again questioning it for the sonata's effect on Swann but also for an exposition of Proust's aesthetics beliefs.

Another reason for reading Bales is Diane R. Leonard and her Ruskin and the Cathedral of Lost Souls which shows both Proust and Ruskin defining for us their aesthetic impressions at Amiens in figurative interpretations.



message 20: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Phillida, like you, I'm finding the discussions very useful and they motivate me to continue with this challenging book. In fact, it is a tribute to the benefit of these discussions that more of us don't complain about the difficulty of the entire text but instead, like Eugene, have come to appreciate and delight in each sentence for itself. I look forward already to reading the next volume.


message 21: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Eugene wrote: "Kalliope wrote on Swann: "...I expect that when, and if, this self emerges again it must be transformed."

Very interesting Kalliope, transformation.

From the Combray section we know that the Narr..."



Yes, I have to reread the last time the sonata appears (which is no longer in a piano-reduced formed, but again as a duo between the violin and the piano).. and look for what you mention.. the beginning of the transformation.

Yes the Bale is in my cart. I also have Proust's translation of the Ruskin's book on the Amiens cathedral.

Please post on whatever you find on Proust's aesthetics beliefs. Thank you.


message 22: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Feb 12, 2013 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Phillida, like you, I'm finding the discussions very useful and they motivate me to continue with this challenging book. In fact, it is a tribute to the benefit of these discussions that more of us..."

Fionnuala and Phillida, yes, I think that they way the Group is working makes it less daunting to read Proust, and a lot more fun to try and read it carefully. I am finding the complete experience very enjoyable.


·Karen· (kmoll) | 318 comments I do so want to chime in to say how helpful the discussion here is. In fact I think I just did.

Also, I must say that divvying it up into these manageable chunks has been a great aid too: it's not exactly a plot-led novel, and sometimes when battling with the innumerable subordinate clauses and losing track of what the subject of the sentence was, then it's easy to look at how much there is still to go and begin to feel a little daunted. But I stick a post-it note in to the page I have to reach by the end of the week and it doesn't seem nearly so insuperable.

Where's Aloha this week?


message 24: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments I've just come to the section where it says: "A partir de cette soirée, Swann comprit que le sentiment qu'Odette avait eu pour lui ne renaîtrait jamais, que ses espérances de bonheur ne se réaliseraient plus."

So we see the effect of his hearing Vinteuil's sonata in its entirety.


message 25: by Aloha, Proustcrastinator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aloha | 979 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "I do so want to chime in to say how helpful the discussion here is. In fact I think I just did.

Also, I must say that divvying it up into these manageable chunks has been a great aid too: it's not..."


I'm peeking in, Karen. Looks like the convo. is going great. I'm taking a break and doing another group read for the moment.


Marcelita Swann | 1135 comments Nick wrote: "Kalli, the Bales really is the best essay collection on Proust, in my eyes. When you can justify it as a purchase, you'll be well rewarded on reading it.

Fionnuala and Kalliope out of interest, wh..."


I agree with Nick...Bales needs to be on your shelf. Diane R. Leonard's chapter on "Ruskin and the cathedral of lost souls" is a must-read for those who are interested...

"In 'The Bible of Amiens,' he had encountered the idea of reading a cathedral like a book - therefore, why could not he, as a writer, create a book that could be read as a cathedral?
He had amused himself by sketching for Reynaldo Hahn humorous drawings of stained-glass windows and cathedral statues depicting Reynaldo and himself as characters in brief narrative situations."

See drawings here: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story...


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

My favorite part of Marquise de Saint-Euverte's concert/party is how in the beginning it was written very much like Mrs. Dalloway drifting from character to character using the music as a common thought. Given our knowledge of Woolf's reverence for Proust I had to wonder if this very scene was not a model for Woolf's style. I also like how Swann's thoughts are all over the map depending upon where he is in the song but by its conclusion he seems to have come to some definitive thoughts.

We never find out what de Charlus has discovered about Odette while Swann is at the party. I find that curious and wonder what if anything is revealed later in ISOLT.


message 28: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Jonathan, you are right. Can't write more as I'm on a bus


message 29: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (last edited Feb 13, 2013 06:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Jonathan and Fionnuala,

I found this on the Cambremers (in French, though):

1. Marquise Zélia de Cambremer - appears for the first time at the concert-party given by the Marquise de Saint-Euverte. Likes Chopin.

http://proust-personnages.fr/?page_id...

2. Renée-Élodie - Legrandin's sister and married to Zélia's son. First mentioned by Legrandin in the Combray section and first appears also at the concert, disliking Chopin. The link below says that she is sometimes referred to as Cambremer-Legrandin so as not to confuse her with her mother in law.

http://proust-personnages.fr/?page_id...

3. Cancan - son of Zélia and married to Renée-Élodie.

http://proust-personnages.fr/?page_id...



And it seems there will be more later on, like their son Léonor.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I will take all of your word for it, but I could have sworn that Mme Cambremer was Legrandin's daughter!


message 31: by Aloha, Proustcrastinator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aloha | 979 comments Mod
If anybody can catch a detail, it would be Jonathan.


message 32: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Jeremy wrote: "I will take all of your word for it, but I could have sworn that Mme Cambremer was Legrandin's daughter!"

No, the sister... may be you are getting confused with Vinteuil's daughter.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Not getting confused with Vinteuil's daughter. My memory is just playing tricks on me.


message 34: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Jeremy wrote: "Not getting confused with Vinteuil's daughter. My memory is just playing tricks on me."

LOL.. then you understand Proust perfectly...!!


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

I think when it was said the elder Cambremer used to be a Legrandin I made the incorrect assumption that she was his daughter rather than his sister. Then I also became confused at some point between the older and younger Cambremer ladies. The younger who made a move to keep the candle from falling off the piano and being the focus of the General, I believe.


message 36: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments Kalliope, Jeremy, that French site is also confused about the Cambremers. It describes the older Marquise de Cambremer as the mother in law of M Legrandin's 'daughter'. It then describes the younger Marquise Renée Elodie de Cambremer as M Legrandin's 'sister' so can we presume there are two M Legrandins? The father and the son? Or should we just presume that all these sites make mistakes? Someone with a search facility in their ebook should check what Swann said about the young Cambremer to the Princesse des Laumes...


message 37: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Fionnuala wrote: "Kalliope, Jeremy, that French site is also confused about the Cambremers. It describes the older Marquise de Cambremer as the mother in law of M Legrandin's 'daughter'. It then describes the younge..."

That is true, on the "fille de M. Legrandin"..... !!!, my guess is that it is a mistake and that there is only one Legrandin..

Jeremy is vindicated...!!!

I will reread the whole section (which I found a bit confusing anyway), but I have to run now..


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Kalliope wrote: "Jeremy wrote: "Not getting confused with Vinteuil's daughter. My memory is just playing tricks on me."

LOL.. then you understand Proust perfectly...!!"


That's a good one!


message 39: by Fionnuala (new) - added it

Fionnuala | 1142 comments I reread the Combray section where Legrandin is mentioned and the Cambremer daughter in law is definitely Legrandin's sister.


message 40: by Marcelita (last edited Feb 13, 2013 06:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Marcelita Swann | 1135 comments Cast of Characters-Spoiler Alert!

http://tempsperdu.com/cchar.html


message 41: by Eugene (new)

Eugene | 479 comments Kalliope wrote: "Please post on whatever you find on Proust's aesthetics beliefs."

Proust doesn't spell out directly his aesthetic beliefs; instead, in my opinion, he describes them in some of his characters; Swann being one. Proust's aesthetics are a kind of figuralism for his readers; it is up to us to figure them out. See Bales, Diane R. Leonard's Ruskin and the Cathedral of Lost Souls for a good definition of figuralism, Ruskin's adaption of it and Proust's 'impressioned' variations of Ruskin in Amiens with quotes from Contre Sainte-Beuve which, as some say, became ISOLT. The proximity in years of the Ruskin translations, CSB and Swann's Way is telling of Proust's methods and beliefs.

Swann, erudite in classical art (as was Proust), in his hearing of Vinteuil's sonata at Mme. Sainte-Euverte's party changes:

"And Swann saw, motionless before that relived happiness, a miserable figure who filled him with pity...It was himself.

When he realized this, his pity vanished..."

Change or effect is what Vinteuil would have wished for by his work, he being an artist like Proust. Alas we are not he and if you're not a painter, a writer or an artist of some kind then your art is your life.

"Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity." Coco Chanel

We're all snobs.

More on Proust's aesthetic beliefs, I hope to follow...

-----

Also hearing the little phrase again at the party causes a kind of "involuntary memory" in Swann; he remembers all the happiness with Odette that he'd put out of his mind while living with his 'euphemisms' of it that were acceptable. The brunt, the reality, of his recollections is painful to him different from the narrator tasting his madeleine.


message 42: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Marcelita wrote: "Cast of Characters-Spoiler Alert!

http://tempsperdu.com/cchar.html"


Thank you Marcelita. this one gets it right. I am amused that the Chopin-factor is also chosen as a distinguishing trait between the two marquises, because that is also what stuck in my mind after being a bit shocked when Chopin is discussed as "old-fashioned".

I reread the Charity Concert section last night, and this time paid more attention to the way the Cambremers and the Lengrandins are presented according to their social and cultural pedigree.

As Fionnuala was saying, Swann tells the princesse des Laumes that the Legrandins are her neighbors (and the parents of both Our Legrandin and his sister Renée are mentioned) because the Princesse didn’t even know them. But at least she is relieved that the young Cambremer-née Legrandin, is not such a philistine as the original clan of the Cambremers (hence the jokes about their name that we discussed above).

It is even mentioned that the young Renée Cambremer, the Wagnerian, was happy to have joined her new family except for their different cultural sophistication – sauf en ce qui touchait les choses de l’esprit sur lesquelles, sachant jusqu’à l’harmonie et jusqu’au grec, elle avait des lumières spéciales.


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 1025 comments Aloha wrote: "Karen wrote: "I do so want to chime in to say how helpful the discussion here is. In fact I think I just did.

Also, I must say that divvying it up into these manageable chunks has been a great aid..."


I just noticed your new photo! Very pretty!


ReemK10 (Paper Pills) | 1025 comments Jeremy wrote: "written very much like Mrs. Dalloway drifting from character to character using the music as a common thought. Given our knowledge of Woolf's reverence for Proust I had to wonder if this"

That's an absolutely brilliant observation. I think you're right!



message 45: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Eugene wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Please post on whatever you find on Proust's aesthetics beliefs."

Proust doesn't spell out directly his aesthetic beliefs; instead, in my opinion, he describes them in some of his..."


Thank you Eugene,

Please,keep posting on this theme as we proceed with La recherche.


message 46: by Aloha, Proustcrastinator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Aloha | 979 comments Mod
ReemK10 (Got Proust?) wrote: "Aloha wrote: "Karen wrote: "I do so want to chime in to say how helpful the discussion here is. In fact I think I just did.

Also, I must say that divvying it up into these manageable chunks has be..."


Thanks, Reem!


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

ReemK10 (Got Proust?) wrote: "Jeremy wrote: "written very much like Mrs. Dalloway drifting from character to character using the music as a common thought. Given our knowledge of Woolf's reverence for Proust I had to wonder if ..."

Well, thanks. I don't know about brilliant but I had read a couple Woolf's works within the past year so they are pretty fresh in mind.


message 48: by Eugene (new)

Eugene | 479 comments An instructor at the Arts Students League, begun in New York in 1875, told the painting class I was in, some years later, that "Picasso proves that you don't have to be a nice guy to be a great artist." and we could say something similar of one of Proust's characters that, 'You don't have to be a nice guy to have aesthetic experiences,' when describing M. Charles Swann.

Aesthetic is defined by Merriam-Webster: "of, relating to, or dealing with aesthetics or the beautiful" as in aesthetic theories or beliefs. Foregoing the Greek root, let's talk of a more homey word instead, the beautiful. As I indicated before, one of the reasons I read Proust is for the beauty of his sentences and Proust uses many of them when he describes the varied inner-workings of Swann as he listens to the little phrase. A sentence fragment describing Swann listening at Mme. Saint-Euverte's party:

"...who experienced something like the refreshing sense of a metamorphosis in the momentary blindness with which he had been struck as he approached it, Swann felt that it was present, like a protective goddess, a confidant of his love, who, so as to be able to come to him through the crowd, and to draw him aside to speak to him, had disguised herself in this sweeping cloak of sound." Moncrieff

This is Proust's version of figuralism http://bit.ly/11IWXjh (eyes wide shut K ;-) that comes from Ruskin's adaption of it; it is about the experience of beauty and it is so beautifully written. On the other hand we have Jim Everett saying, "To write about Proust’s aesthetics is necessarily to contradict Proust’s intentions. For him, art begins where rational explanation ends." in The Proust Reader http://bit.ly/VgIgkU.

The views are contradictory and I believe them both as did Proust, I suspect.

---

Friday Marcel Proust and Swann's Way: 100th Anniversary opens at the Morgan; I'll go Saturday and I'm hoping that there will be translations in English or at least printed transcriptions of his hand-written drafts, complete with additions and crossings out, in French to examine his writing/editing process. Nick provided BNF notebook transcripts in another discussion but I found Proust's hand hard to read.


message 49: by Joseeph (new)

Joseeph Nathan | 1 comments I am so glad I found this blog.

I am coordinator of a clase on Le Recherche at a peer learning group for retirees in lower Manhattan.
Our Proust class started two years ago with about 30 members. Now we are down to twelve. But really committed and knowledgeable members. We have just finished "The Captive" and are into "The Fugitive". We meet every two weeks and discuss an assigned 70 pages. It is such fun.

Our Learning Community is called Quest and we have a website: questonline.org which tells all about us. If any of you bloggers are retired and in reach of Manhattan, we would love to have you visit. Our site gives the address etc.


message 50: by Kalliope, Priestess of Proust (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kalliope | 2929 comments Mod
Eugene wrote: "An instructor at the Arts Students League, begun in New York in 1875, told the painting class I was in, some years later, that "Picasso proves that you don't have to be a nice guy to be a great art..."

Eugene,

As Proustitute says, lovely thoughts to chew on.

Last night, rereading certain sections I found a nice sentence on Aesthetics in the earlier part, which I will post tonight.


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