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Proust - Swann's Way > References, resources, etc.

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Per Thomas's suggestion, this is a thread for discussion of resources, references, commentaries, biographical comments, and anything similar which may be better offered outside of the section discussion threads.

For example, here's a paragraph from a Guardian article on writing in bed:

"Marcel Proust, famously, always wrote in bed, and perhaps the sinuous, haunting paragraphs of A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu bear the mark of that silent twilight zone. Not only did he write in bed; his room was lined with cork, to promote tranquillity."

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/books...


message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments This is for Patrice -- she will understand!

http://www.chick.net/proust/question....

These are supposedly (I haven't cross checked) Proust's answers to a set of personal questions at 13 (and 20) and relate to a Vanity Fair feature, "The Proust Questionnaire."


message 3: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments For those as ignorant of French history at the end of the 19th century as I am, these two Wiki articles might be starting points of interest:

"The Belle Époque or La Belle Époque (...French for 'Beautiful Era') was a period in European social history that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I. Occurring during the era of the French Third Republic and the German Empire, it was a period characterized by optimism and new technological and medical discoveries. The Belle Époque was named in retrospect, when it began to be considered a 'golden age' when compared to the horrors of World War I."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_%C...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_T...

"Maurice Larkin (2002) argued that political France of the Third Republic [~1870-1940] was sharply polarized. On the left marched democratic France, heir to the French Revolution and fully assured of the power of reason and knowledge to create a better future for all Frenchmen and all mankind. On the right stood conservative France, rooted in the peasantry, the Church and the army, and skeptical about 'progress' unless guided by traditional elites."


message 4: by Lily (last edited Nov 14, 2011 08:09AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Patrice wrote: "...His taste in art really improved with age. Who was that artist he mentioned at 13?..."

Well, it may reflect a young boy's interest in things heroic and military:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Lou...

Still, note this comment: "Meissonier worked with elaborate care and a scrupulous observation of nature."

Sounds a bit like someone we are getting to know?

For more of Meissonier:

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/gallery/...

http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/...

http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collecti...

http://www.military-prints.com/messon...

"'The Siege of Paris' lasted from September 19th 1870 to January 28th 1871, and brought about the French surrender and the end of the Franco-Prussian War." This is very close to the time of Proust's birth on July 10, 1871.


message 5: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Here is a time line from the Met that aligns political events in France against the artistic world in a brief snapshot:

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?per...

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/?per...

"The twentieth century opens with France, and especially the city of Paris, occupying a preeminent position in the art world. The French avant-garde in the period after 1900 pursues the development of artistic modernism that began during the nineteenth century. At the turn of the century, the Fauvist artists, led by Henri Matisse (1869–1954), produce paintings characterized by the broad application of bright colors. At approximately the same time, Parisian artists, among them Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) and Georges Braque (1882–1963), pioneer the Cubist style. So important does Paris become in the early decades of the twentieth century with regard to the development of avant-garde aesthetics, that it is possible to speak of a School of Paris comprised of artists from many nations who are drawn to the city.

"The persecution of Jewish artists in Germany and elsewhere in the years leading up to and including World War II brings many émigrés to Paris...."


message 6: by Lily (last edited Nov 14, 2011 08:32AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Lily wrote: "For those as ignorant of French history at the end of the 19th century as I am, these two Wiki articles might be starting points ..."

A little earlier French history that occurred near the time of Proust's birth:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Co...

Here is a more succinct review of the Third Republic than the Wiki article cited earlier (may be largely an excerpt -- haven't compared them closely):
http://faculty.ucc.edu/egh-damerow/th...


message 7: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) RE: French history events which might be relevant to the novel

Proust was very affected by the Dreyfus affair which was a political scandal started in 1894 by the unjust conviction for treason of Alfred Dreyfus, a young officer of Jewish descent. In 1896 evidence was published showing that guilty of the treason was Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, but the French army authorities covered up his crime and used Dreyfus as a scapegoat. The public became split between Dreyfusians and anti-Dreyfusians and there were not few frictions between the two groups. Among artistic/literary circles a petition calling for the release of Alfred Dreyfus was started (a petition which Proust signed and campaigned in favour of among his friends and acquaintances). Sadly, Dreyfus was only released from prison in 1899 and because of his article J'accuse in which he accused army authorities of anti-Semitism, Emile Zola was put on trial for criminal libel and found guilty in 1898. He ran away to England where he spend about a year before he was allowed to come back to France.

This is relevant not only because it shows that Proust was far from being completely cut off from current events, but also because anti-Semitism is a recurring theme in A la Recherce and Proust himself was half-Jewish.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Here's a link to the book of paintings mentioned in the text (of all volumes) that I mentioned in the other thread:

http://www.amazon.com/Paintings-Prous...


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Another fantastic resource that some of you might already have on hand and not even know about:

In the back of the 6th volume, "Time Regained", of the Modern Library set, there is a comprehensive Character Index listing every character in the novel. Just as useful for those of us not steeped in the history of France at the turn of the 20th century is a separate index listing every real-life person mentioned in the novel. Both indexes list all the page numbers the character appears on, along with brief comments to identify who the person is and what they're doing on that page. There are even listings for unnamed characters ["Girl (blonde)"] and general groups of characters such as "Girls".

There are similar indexes of places and even "themes" with corresponding page numbers, but I've never looked at either of those. But the character and person indexes are extremely helpful when a character reappears and you wonder, wait, who is this man again?


message 10: by Lily (last edited Nov 14, 2011 10:37AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Patrice wrote: "So I'm wondering... I've been reading the book as a personal memoir of Proust, not really a novel...."

Beware of treating this as "a diary in code."(view spoiler) (The spoiler contains the source of the quotation, but I cannot recommend the site to anyone with concerns about certain types of resources such as have been expressed in the main discussion thread.) It could be as disingenuous as finding Plato everywhere. (Here is another site on Plato and Proust for you--its beyond where I am interested in exploring: http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/24643-an-unpr...)


message 11: by Lily (last edited Nov 14, 2011 10:32AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments M wrote: "Here's a link to the book of paintings mentioned in the text (of all volumes) that I mentioned in the other thread:

http://www.amazon.com/Paintings-Prous..."


Thanks, M! And on the Net: http://www.paintingsinproust.com/Prou...

The excerpts link includes: "The Sultan Mehmet II", Gentile Bellini, 1480, mentioned in Swan's Way.


message 12: by Andreea (new)

Andreea (andyyy) M wrote: "Another fantastic resource that some of you might already have on hand and not even know about:

In the back of the 6th volume, "Time Regained", of the Modern Library set, there is a comprehensive ..."


Part of the list is posted online here (the same website also has a lot of other useful resources like a chronology of the novel and a list of other Proust related links) .


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you, Andreea! I had discovered that web site years ago when starting Proust but had forgotten all about it.

On the other hand I tend not to be near my laptop when reading; it would be so handy for those of your with smartphones, though.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't even realize that a "real-life people" index existed back there until I was somewhere in Vol. 3! But I concede I don't know if it will be that useful for people reading only Vol. 1.


message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 14, 2011 12:32PM) (new)

Oh, and here's a major resource of a different sort for those who really fall in love with Proust like I did: it's a link to a new (started in the fall of 2010) self-paced, online course about the novel, taught by distinguished professor and author Dr. William C. Carter. I've been slowly taking the course for a year now and loving it:

http://www.proust-ink.com/

Dr. Carter is the author of one of the most thorough biographies ever written about Proust. But the course is not about Proust's life; it's about the novel, and it's absolutely fabulous. And you have unlimited email access to Dr. Carter, aka "Bill", which is one of the best perks possible.

The same professor has also started uploading some video clips onto Youtube under the name "proustonline". Some of the clips are from a Proust documentary he made years ago; one clip is a promo for the course.


message 15: by Lily (last edited Nov 14, 2011 07:36PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Here is some information on Charles Ephrussi, a Russian critic, an art historian and collector, and possibly one of the real life inspirations for Swann:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephrussi...

Ephrussi is the man in the top hat in Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party".

http://www.phillipscollection.org/col...

Note the comment: "The painting also reflects the changing character of French society in the mid- to late 19th century. The restaurant welcomed customers of many classes, including businessmen, society women, artists, actresses, writers, critics, seamstresses, and shop girls. This diverse group embodied a new, modern Parisian society."


message 16: by Lily (last edited Nov 14, 2011 07:43PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Patrice wrote: "He WAS good. I couldn't place the name but I recognize the paintings..."

"These pictures established him [Meissonier] as perhaps one of the greatest military painters France had ever seen and he was a major source of inspiration to Detaille and de Neuville before he died in Paris on 31st January, 1891."

I don't know these painters either, but this is from the site I linked above (@7): http://www.military-prints.com/messon...


message 17: by Lily (last edited Nov 16, 2011 12:05PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Patrice wrote: "...the boy at mass was concentrating on a tapestry of the story of Esther. ... surprised that a Catholic Church would have such a tapestry..."

Well, I decided to go looking for stained glass, since I figured that might be easier to find and to be sure that it was in a church than to look for a tapestry. The very first page of links brought up this:

http://imagesbible.com/ANGLAIS/ANG_FI...

If you scroll down, you should see a thumbnail of a stained glass dated 1240 from Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, which was the chapel of the royal family on the Ile de la Cite (on the same island and near Notre Dame). I didn't keep looking, so I haven't developed a feel for how common such images were/are, but Proust may well have seen that one. (It might not be out of his imaginative range to translate it into a tapestry and move it to Combray.)

http://www.wga.hu/art/zgothic/stained...

(Sidebar: there is a wonderful panorama here of Sainte-Chapelle, which is one of the sites I didn't see when I visited Paris, but encouraged my son and his wife not to miss: http://www.fromparis.com/virtual-tour.... I don't believe it is possible to identify specific details, but the show is great.)

Incidentally, despite the Jewish tradition of transmission of faith through the mother, one source I read suggested the custom in France at this time was for the child to receive the paternal faith. At the moment, I don't know if that source is just plain wrong or if there were certain conventions in France that might have been rather specific by social class or other considerations.


message 18: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Patrice wrote: "...he did not acknowledge his Jewish heritage, according to this article...."

He was, however, a Dreyfusard, i.e., a supporter of Dreyfus (to his father's chagrin? -- I'm not sure about that aspect and don't remember the source just now to go back and check myself).


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim Patrice wrote: "I just read an interesting tidbit. I had thought it was curious that the boy at mass was concentrating on a tapestry of the story of Esther. I guess I was surprised that a Catholic Church would h..."

Catholics/Christians read the whole bible, so why would an Esther tapestry be surprising?


message 20: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 291 comments Patrice wrote: "Just discovered that Oscar Wilde was friends with Proust."

Somehow that doesn't surprise me. Good find, Patrice!


message 21: by Andreea (last edited Nov 18, 2011 06:34AM) (new)

Andreea (andyyy) ^ Proust also met Joyce once. But their meeting was a bit of a failure because neither of them had read each other's work so they didn't know what to talk about and ended up talking about their health.


Another great online resource I've found is the bookdrum.com page for Swann's Way which explains most of the historical references in the book as well as offering some hints about details you should look out for throughout the whole book.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you for that link, Andreea! What a great resource; it reminds me of powermobydick.com but more gorgeous to look at. Too bad it doesn't look like it extends to the later volumes.


message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Note the cover of this featured picture book for 2011: (Llama Llama Home with Mama)

http://www.amazon.com/Llama-Home-Mama...



message 24: by Dee (new)

Dee (deinonychus) | 291 comments If you're reading in French (or even if you're not but have a French copy by the side) you might appreciate this recording of Swann's Way (unabridged! - it takes 19 hours)

http://www.litteratureaudio.com/livre...

It's beautifully read


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

David wrote: "If you're reading in French (or even if you're not but have a French copy by the side) you might appreciate this recording of Swann's Way (unabridged! - it takes 19 hours)

http://www.litteratureau..."


Thank you! What a great resource. I'd love to find the Tante Léonie part to listen to. :-)


message 26: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Le temps retrouvé -extrait: sonate de Vinteuil-, film de Raoul Ruiz, d'après le livre de Marcel Proust.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-F98k...


message 27: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 22, 2011 06:03AM) (new)

I like that! But I recommend that people NOT watch the whole movie that clip is from ("Marcel Proust's Time Regained"/ "Le temps retrouvé, d'après l'oeuvre de Marcel Proust") until after finishing the 6 volumes. Talk about spoilers!


message 28: by Lily (last edited Nov 22, 2011 05:41AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments M wrote: "I like that! But I recommend that people NOT watch the whole movie that clip is from ("Marcel Proust's Time Regained"/ "Le temps retrouvé, d'après l'oeuvre de Marcel Proust") until after finishing ..."

Did you think there was a spoiler in that clip? If so, I missed it!

Is the whole movie available on YouTube? I didn't find it, but I didn't search very much. I started by just looking for the Vinteuil Sonata, which goes with the section being posted today.


message 29: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Here is a blog on "Vinteuils little phrase":

http://lettersfromalibrarian.blogspot...


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 22, 2011 06:05AM) (new)

Lily wrote: "Did you think there was a spoiler in that clip?"

Oh, no! I was trying to NOT give that impression, but if I did, I should go back and edit that post [Edit: done. Hope it helped]. There's nothing wrong with the clip! In fact I love the way it gives us a visual of what these parties might have looked like.

The whole movie is probably not available on youtube, as you say. My library has a copy of it and even thought I had done way too much Proust-related reading to be surprised by just about anything in the novel, I held off watching the movie until I finished the whole set of books.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

On the topic of spoilers, some of them really can't be avoided in ISOLT because the narrator himself throws in so many. " ... as we will see later, (big spoiler!) ..." By doing this I guess he's saying that the various characters' storylines not the book's main purpose.


message 32: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Jorge Arriagada - Sonate de Vinteuil
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXD-37...

Another interpretation.


message 33: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments 1984 Version of Swan in Love -- Gorgeous, seductive, decadent, obviously with spoilers. Not having read the rest of the novel, I don't know how much is hinted beyond our current book. Perhaps M can/will comment? (Almost two hours.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9QPQk...


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Yeah, that movie is the whole story of Swann in Love, as I recall, so you probably wouldn't want to watch it before reading that whole section. The movie combines Swann, the Narrator, and Marcel Proust the author all into one person, and I don't think anyone reading the book would conclude that Swann IS the Narrator, or Proust. But as I recall it's a beautiful movie to look at. The actresss playing Odette is drop-dead gorgeous.


message 35: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments M wrote: "...The movie combines Swann, the Narrator, and Marcel Proust the author all into one person..."

The power of the screenwriter! I hadn't really figured all that out, especially also the collapse of Marcel Proust into the figure of Swann -- I mean, I "got" the collapse of the Narrator and Swann, which in itself was disconcerting, but felt effective. It is a beautiful movie to watch and it will definitely affect my reading, which in this case is okay with me. (Somewhat like intermingling the reading of War and Peace with watching the Russian movie version.)


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Heh, well, I could easily be wrong about Proust = Swann in the movie. ;-D Can't wait to hear what you think after reading the book. Now I want to watch the movie again, too.


message 37: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments M wrote: "...Can't wait to hear what you think after reading the book..."

Have finished the book -- mostly by listening rather than reading. Now, I want both again -- the book and the movie, if I can stand listening about Swann's convoluted jealousy. Everything else is intriguing.


message 38: by Lily (last edited Dec 01, 2011 12:10PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Am deeply enjoying Karpeles's book Paintings in Proust. It surprises me a bit to see so little art that would have been at the front edge during Proust's life, e.g., Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso.

There is lots of Renoir, Watteau, Botticelli, Giotto, Vermeer, ....


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renoir
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watteau
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botticelli "The first monograph on the artist was published in 1893; then, between 1900 and 1920 more books were written on Botticelli than any other painter." (So, like Vermeer, Botticelli was receiving attention about the time Proust was writing?)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giotto


message 39: by Lily (last edited Dec 01, 2011 12:10PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments A passage from Karpeles on Proust and Ruskin:

"...The single greatest influence upon Proust's aesthetic development was John Ruskin, a man he never met but through whose work was revealed a new collaboration of eyes, mind and heart. Ruskin's philosophical treatises explored new ways of thinking that made Proust even more sensitive to the world around him. In Ruskin's books Proust was first introduced to many of the painters whose works would come to mean so much to him. {Uncertain of the evidence Karpele has for those "first" introductions coming through Ruskin.} He clung to Ruskin's books as talismans; he was never far from them. He made himself into an expert on the subject of Ruskin. Proust claimed to know by heart Ruskin's portrait of his early development, a volume called Praeterita (which could be loosely translated as 'Lost Time' or 'Things Past'). The degree to which this memoir's tone of voice would today be called 'Proustian' is an indication of how much Ruskin's writing influenced him.

"However, the mentor-disciple relationship once again became strained. As Proust dug deeper into Ruskin's world view, he understood that for the English critic great art and morality were one and the same. This belief had exploded into Ruskin's public condemnation of Whistler, a painter Proust admired enormously, and who believed that art and morality were clearly separate and distinct entities. Proust ultimately came to reconcile the differences between these two uncompromising figures, finding truth in each of their opposing essences. But his apprenticeship was over. Proust's project of translating into French Ruskin's Bible of Amiens languished. Finally, in a postscript o the translation, he brought himself to elaborate upon what he understood as Ruskin's undoing. Proust felt that the great critic was unable to see the seductive wonders of the external world distracted from the necessary truth hidden below. It was this 'idolatry' toward surface beauties on the part of the author of The Stones of Venice that convinced Proust to remove his acolyte's robe. Although the English critic's influence is everywhere to be found in In Search of Lost Time, it is muted and filtered. Proust's rejection of Ruskin was an act of will that helped free him to face the consuming challenge that lay ahead." pp. 16-17 of "Introduction."


message 40: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Another passage from Karpeles, this one on Proust and Monet:

"..1900, the year of Ruskin's death, saw the first of two memorable exhibitions of Monet's water-lily paintings at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. Proust tried to imagine a writer who could achieve what Monet had done as a painter. He wrote what was to be a description of himself; 'Imagine today a writer to whom the idea would occur to treat twenty times under different lights the same theme, and who would have the sensation of creating something profound, subtle, powerful, overwhelming, original, startling like the fifty cathedrals or forty water-lily ponds of Monet.' As editor and biographer Jean-Yves Tadie observed, 'when Proust felt passionate about somebody else's creation, it was a sign that he was foreseeing his own work.' There is much territory shared between these two great French artists, including the critical primacy of scale. The expansive, sustained gesture each developed could not be contained within the conventional boundaries of their respective crafts -- a painting unfolded across not one canvas but a whole series; a novel was composed not of a single volume but of many. Surrounded by Monet's lily ponds and cathedral fronts, Proust was among the first to internalize their misty mastery not only of space but of time as well. From a close scrutiny of these impressionist masterworks, Proust formulated the vindication -- the triumph -- of effect over cause. One finds in In Search of Lost Time a good deal of clinical objectivity, but no narrative omniscience. Like the viewer getting his bearings in front of Monet's monumental surround of water lilies, the reader enters the universe of Proust's novel almost exclusively through the subjective perceptions of the Narrator." pp. 18-19 of the "Introduction."


message 41: by Lily (last edited Dec 20, 2011 08:10AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments http://www.bookdrum.com/books/in-sear...

An excellent set of notes keyed to pages of Swan's Way (not sure what edition). Haven't been through all of these yet, but was disappointed on the last page that the picture of "The Creation" from the Sistine Chapel does NOT clearly show that round sun and moon. So there may be places where one wants to augment or challenge these, but other pages I have scanned seemed delightful.

12/20/2011 -- Just realized Andreea gave us this link in her Msg 31. Mea culpa.


message 42: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Lily wrote: "http://www.bookdrum.com/books/in-sear...

An excellent set of notes keyed to pages of Swan's Way..."


Have now enjoyed these all the way through. (I completed Swan's Way itself a few days ago.) If you aren't a stickler, I don't think there are really spoilers here -- much more paintings, music, and people that are included in the text. In places, a different picture has been selected than Karpeles did -- makes an enriching mix.


message 43: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 28 comments The Monet influence makes a lot more sense to me than Ruskin. Ruskin was pretty rigid and naturalistic. I don't get that feeling at all from this novel. I was very surprised the first time someone mentioned that Proust was so influenced by him. I just don't see it.


message 44: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Kristen wrote: "The Monet influence makes a lot more sense to me than Ruskin. Ruskin was pretty rigid and naturalistic. I don't get that feeling at all from this novel. I was very surprised the first time someone ..."

I presume you saw the quotation re Ruskin from Karpeles in msg 50? What I surmise from that passage and elsewhere is that Proust submerged himself in Ruskin until he almost drowned, then surfaced to create his own aesthetic path. I don't know Ruskin well enough to recognize traces in another work, as Karpeles claims.


message 45: by Kristen (new)

Kristen | 28 comments Does anyone have tips on HOW to read this?

I've had a really hard time making progress, mainly because as someone mentioned in the Combray thread, the writing seems to be stream of conscious, and by the time I get to the bottom of the page, my mind has wandered off. I've never had such a difficult time getting through a book before.


message 46: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Freud, Proust and Lacan: Theory as Fiction

"The views of Freud, Proust and Lacan are depicted through this staging of a series of provocative dialogues between psychological science and imaginative literature of the twentieth century." From Goodreads description

Spotted this on a Bard College course description for ISOLT.


message 47: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Kristen wrote: "Does anyone have tips on HOW to read this?..."

Kristen -- I've been waiting to see what others might say, but since none have appeared yet, I'll put these four on the table:

1. Listen to it. That's what I did. Tandoor has an unabridged recording that was available in our library system. I am now trying to get in a second listening before returning the CDs. (Only Swan's Way seems to be available unabridged audio. If anyone finds a source, please let us all know.) This time, I am doing more following with the Davis text. The first time through, that was generally more confusing than I was willing to handle.)

2. Read chunks and then perhaps re-read that chunk. At times, parts have begun to feel like little intertwined essays. Alexander wrote: "It is true that the longest of Proust's sentences are difficult to read; by the time you reach the end, you have forgotten how the sentence started and you need to begin all over again. Some people find them irritating, but there are rewards for those who persevere. If you take the extra effort to reread the long sentence that I quote below until you are familiar with all the themes and subclauses, there will come a moment of sudden clarity as you read it for the final time, when all the different thoughts and ideas coalesce simultaneously in your consciousness. You will be transported through time and place to the mind of the man who once shared those very thoughts and emotions." p. 146 I suspect this advice can be readily applied to any long sentence or short sequence. (The "chunks" do tend to stand out more on listening -- at least that is my experience -- than in reading.)

3. Put the thing away for awhile. Come back again another day, or year, or five years. (I've done this way, too. Actually, on return, notes and underlining suggest having covered more than recollected.)

4. Take a course, classroom, online, audited, or...

I hope others will chime in with useful suggestions, ideas, techniques, skills, .... I'd love to add some to my own basket of tricks. (On a work like this, I do use synopses, research, commentary, ..., anything that might help within whatever time constraints I may have. I'm not reading here for plot in the same way as for a mystery.)


message 48: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4408 comments Kristen wrote: "Does anyone have tips on HOW to read this?

I've had a really hard time making progress, mainly because as someone mentioned in the Combray thread, the writing seems to be stream of conscious, and..."


I have the same problem, Kristen. My solution has been to read it quickly, skipping over the parenthetical stuff, to get to the heart of the matter. Then I go back and read the parenthetical stuff with the main point in mind. This doesn't keep my mind from wandering, but I think Proust must have wanted the reader's mind to wander some. Reading this is sort of like wandering along the paths of Combray that Proust describes. I think we are expected to identify things that resonate with us and tarry a while.


message 49: by Lily (last edited Dec 11, 2011 06:01PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments Lily wrote: "...Only Swan's Way seems to be available unabridged audio. If anyone finds a source,"

I seem to have found a source for an unabridged audio of In the Budding Grove from Audible. It is read by John Rowe. It appears to be offered in two parts.


message 50: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 4991 comments “One day, when reflections of this order had brought him once again to the memory of the time when some one had spoken to him of Odette as of a kept woman, and when, once again, he had amused himself with contrasting that strange personification, the kept woman--an iridescent mixture of unknown and demoniacal qualities, embroidered, as in some fantasy of Gustave Moreau, with poison-dripping flowers, interwoven with precious jewels--with that Odette upon whose face he had watched the passage of the same expressions of pity for a sufferer, resentment of an act of injustice, gratitude for an act of kindness, which he had seen, in earlier days, on his own mother's face, and on the faces of friends…” “Swan In Love”

Karpeles uses The Apparition to illustrate this passage, although I don’t particularly see poison-dripping flowers there. That painting was part of an exhibition in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia earlier this year and can be see on this site (viewers at a distance and detail): http://artblart.wordpress.com/2010/12...

For The Apparition, see here:
http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/coll...

For other Moreau paintings, try here:

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/... (Lots of paths with delightful end points, however, a few are dead ends, e.g., Houston, and a few require another level of search.) Note those Biblical femmes fatales Delilah and Salome.

http://www.musee-moreau.fr/homes/home... (However, my browser didn’t display the images today.)

Here is the Google search, although I don’t know but what it is equally easy to just do the search:
https://www.google.com/search?q=gusta...

Moreau's figures are ambiguous; it is hardly possible to distinguish at the first glance which of two lovers is the man, which the woman; all his characters are linked by subtle bonds of relationship... lovers look as though they were related, brothers as though they were lovers, men have the faces of virgins, virgins the faces of youths; the symbols of Good and Evil are entwined and equivocally confused. - Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony (From Artcyclopedia site.)


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