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September 2019: Cultural > Combray by Marcel Proust Parts 1 and 2 of Swann's Way, Volume 1 of Remembrance of Things Past. - 5 stars bien sûr

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message 1: by Theresa (last edited Sep 23, 2019 05:42PM) (new)

Theresa | 6057 comments As read the first two books of Proust's Swanns Way as the first assignment of a monthly discussion class, starting this week, I am going to review each 'book' as I finish them, and since Combray has often been published as a standalone, that is not without precedence. It also conveniently fits this month's tag, as the cultural aspects of rural France, especially Normandy, in the late 19th century are at its heart.

Let me start by saying that reading Proust is a slow meandering journey, a slow rich read, sometimes humorous and light, but equally often lush and a bit dense. Attentive reading in chunks of time is best approach.

This is the first 2 sections or books of Swann's Way, entitled in the 1981 translation I am reading (the 'black and silver') as Ouverture and Combray. Often referred to and published together as just Combray, or Combray I and Combray II, it is here that we first meet the narrator and his infamous cup of tea with a madeleine. We never are given a name for the first person narrator, but calling him Marcel seems to fit. We are introduced to his childhood bedtime rituals and the extended immediate family, and the inimitable servant, Françoise. I love Françoise! Combray village is brought to life, and we are superficially introduced to those outside the family who will have a great influence on young Marcel including M. Swann and the Duchess of Guermantes. The interplay between the servant Françoise, her mistress Tante Leonie, and Marcel and his parents, are in many ways the human heart of the volume.

Most interesting, we meet the daughter of a family friend whose lesbian relationship introduces the theme of homosexuality and it's impact on family and even community relationships..pretty radical for 1913 when this was published!

I find so much of what he writes of memory and feelings at specific moments to be so true...such as how he captures in the first few pages the exact feeling and thought during those moments you are neither awake nor asleep, but in a separate world or state of being.

One of my favorite passages is his description as houris of the luxuriously blossoming lilac trees in Swann's gardens along the Méséglise Way his family walks after lunch. So vibrant! I could see, hear, feel, and smell them!

Proust is a wallow...or perhaps a better descriprtion is Proust is like eating an incredibly rich decadent French pastry or buttery croissant: you savor it slowly and indulgently.


message 2: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2707 comments Now what have you done to me! I have never, ever, been even slightly tempted to read Proust.

Before this.

I may never forgive you.


message 3: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7102 comments Jgrace wrote: "Now what have you done to me! I have never, ever, been even slightly tempted to read Proust.

Before this.

I may never forgive you."
🤣


message 4: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6057 comments Jgrace wrote: "Now what have you done to me! I have never, ever, been even slightly tempted to read Proust.

Before this.

I may never forgive you."


😎


message 5: by annapi (new)

annapi | 4849 comments Judith, I feel the same way LOL. And I discovered this:
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=proust&...

Swann's Way vol. 1 is free, and In Search of Lost Time vol. 1 to 7 is 99 cents!

And yes, I did download the free one.


message 6: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 6057 comments annapi wrote: "Judith, I feel the same way LOL. And I discovered this:
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=proust&...

Swann's Way vol. 1 is free, and In Search of Lost Time vol. 1 to 7 is 99 ..."


Come on! Join me...the water is fine....Dadun dadun


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