One Year In Search of Lost Time ~ 2015 discussion

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Swann's Way > Week IV ~ ending January 31

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message 1: by Simon (last edited Jan 28, 2015 02:23PM) (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments Our reading ends "...and in fact, what spoke to her imagination was not the practice of disinterestedness, but its vocabulary" (p. 341; ~56.9%).

I hope you don't mind me opening the discussion thread, Jacob.


message 2: by Simon (last edited Jan 28, 2015 05:39PM) (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments And what a sweet part this is! for me, the most accessible, page-turny one so far. I was quite surprised how much sweet romance Proust put into this, of the kind that would easily fill bestseller romance novels, but of course coupled with Proust's excellent high-level observations. I breezed through that part (while careful to take it in as attentively as possible) and was quite shocked and dismayed to suddenly hit our week's goal line.

As a piano amateur, I was of course also completely won over by the celebrations of music, wonderful fresh ideas also for musicians i'd say.

There are too many beautiful things to quote in this fantastic part, so i'll instead throw a curve ball and criticize two passages:

The first one is a repetition. We had almost exactly the same description of Swann's conversation code much earlier in the book (maybe worth finding). So why again? I guess it's an important part of Swann's character that deserves repeating, but i knew this too well not to be irritated.


He was extremely precise when it came to the recipe for a dish, the date of a painter’s birth or death, the nomenclature of his works. Now and then, despite everything, he went so far as to utter a judgment on a work, on someone’s interpretation of life, but he would then give his remarks an ironic tone, as if he did not entirely subscribe to what he was saying.

(p. 213). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.


And the second one seems to me a general observation as eloquent as all the others, but simply unrealistic. If you knew nothing about a person you desired, wouldn't you want to know all the more about her past and current life?


and he knew nothing about how she spent her time during the day, any more than about her past, so much so that he lacked even that initial bit of information which, by allowing us to imagine for ourselves what we do not know , makes us want to know it.

(p. 242)


To restore Proust's honour, if i dare say so, here's an excellent observation that has been confirmed in psychological studies not so long ago (at least as affect):

Of all love’s modes of production, of all the disseminating agents of the holy evil, surely one of the most efficacious is this great breath of agitation which sometimes blows down on us. Then the die is cast, and the person whose company we enjoy at the time is the one we will love.

(p. 233)



message 3: by Jacob (new)

Jacob (jacobvictorfisher) | 112 comments Not a bit, Simon, I appreciate it. I'll have to read your second comment later in the week.


message 4: by Teresa (last edited Jan 28, 2015 07:51PM) (new)

Teresa Simon wrote: I breezed through that part (while careful to take it in as attentively as possible) and was quite shocked and dismayed to suddenly hit our week's goal line.

Exactly what happened to me!

... the second one seems to me a general observation as eloquent as all the others, but simply unrealistic. If you knew nothing about a person you desired, wouldn't you want to know all the more about her past and current life?

I wondered about that too, especially since he has felt that "great breath of agitation."


message 5: by Sue (new)

Sue | 67 comments I particularly enjoyed those parts devoted to the music and the varying responses of the "clan".


message 6: by Simon (last edited Jan 31, 2015 12:53PM) (new)

Simon (sorcerer88) | 176 comments A sidenote: Proust is spoiling me for other writers, it appears, I often see them through a Proustian lense.
I didn't enjoy The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes too much (2/5), didn't like the landscapes in The Sun also Rises (Hemingway, 2/5) and found it lacked observations, and liked two of these Proustian ones in The Great Gatsby (3/5) and was disappointed there weren't many more:
(view spoiler)


message 7: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 60 comments I agree this section is wonderfully readable and I have just read the whole of this part this morning - but I don't find it very romantic.

For me it's quite chilling to see how Swann judges Odette's appearance and compares her with younger women like his seamstress - it seems as if he almost brainwashes himself into being in love with her by comparing her face to a great painting, and yet at the same time he still sees her as she really is. (This reminded me of the narrator comparing the duchess to the stained glass window earlier.)

Because of this, I found it in a way believable that Swann doesn't want to know what Odette is doing the rest of the time. There's a suggestion that he has already heard hints that he doesn't want to have confirmed... so my feeling is that he doesn't want to shatter the illusion of her that he's just been to so much trouble to build up.


message 8: by Teresa (last edited Feb 08, 2015 09:42AM) (new)

Teresa Judy wrote: "... it seems as if he almost brainwashes himself into being in love with her by comparing her face to a great painting ..."

Yes, trying to justify his feelings for her.

Great point in your last paragraph, Judy, about Swann's deluding himself.


message 9: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 60 comments Thanks, Teresa, very kind of you.

I really want to hear the piece of music they keep listening to!


message 10: by Renato (new)

Renato (renatomrocha) | 34 comments Judy: Proust, in a letter to one of his friends:

"To whatever extent I made use of reality, actually, a very slight extent, ... the little phrase of the sonata is, and I have never told this to anyone, the charming but infinitely mediocre phrase of a sonata for piano and violin by Saint-Saëns, a musician I don't like."


With that in mind and other descriptions he's made, it is believed that this is the one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8Kot...


message 11: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 60 comments Thanks, Renato - I really like it.


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