Marcel Proust discussion

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Before Reading "In Search of Lost Time"

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message 1: by Can (new)

Can Iban (caniban) | 1 comments I'd like to start reading all volumes of "In Search of Lost Time" in 2018. Thus, throughout autumn, I'd like to read "preparatory" books in order to get Proust more straightforwardly.

So, I'd like have your opinions and recommendations. Which books should be read before "In Search of Lost Time".

Thanks in advance.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

You don't necessarily have to read anything before Proust - and the first time I came to In Search Of Life Time/Remembrance Of Things Past (depending on your translation) I had not. I was about 20 years old and a complete blank slate, and it was one of my most formative reading experiences.

That said, if you enjoy being able to pick up on references in your reading, then you might like to be familiar with Racine's plays (his three final plays would be best, if you are short on time: "Phedre," "Esther," and "Athalie"), and with Balzac ("Lost Illusions," "Father Goriot," and "The Girl With the Golden Eyes" most particularly), and also with Baudelaire ("The Flowers of Evil" is extraordinary).

In my opinion, it's better to approach biographies and critical work only after having read In Search Of Life Time/Remembrance Of Things Past - I know people will disagree with me. But, that's my two cents. That first read is most enjoyable if it's as unfiltered as possible, and I think book should be enjoyed. But after, you may enjoy reading critical and thematic studies like "Proust Among the Stars" (Malcolm Bowie) or "The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust" (Howard Moss). Or Proust biographies, like "Proust: A Life" (Edmund White).

I also always recommend Alain de Botton's "How Proust Can Change Your Life" as a lovely, enjoyable, uplifting thing to read once you've finished The Gauntlet. (But only AFTER).

One more category to address: as for reading guides as you go along, I am of two minds. On one hand, they can help you pick up on more, on the other (as I said) for first reads I prefer the unfiltered experience. Nevertheless, here are a couple I've used: "Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to In Search of Lost Time" is actually a handy companion if you want to be able to look up and see the paintings he references; "Proust's Way: A Field Guide To In Search Of Lost Time" (Roger Shattuck); "Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time" (Patrick Alexander).


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