Time Regained Time Regained discussion

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message 1: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara After being mightily stalled by The Captive and The Fugitive, I am again under Proust's spell in Time Regained. His observations of a nation at war are compelling. His criticisms of the women and their fashions are withering. I especially liked his analysis of Saint-Loup's reaction to war and the contrast with Bloch.

And, I loved the following quote:
...they reminded me that pretentiousness is near akin to stupidity and that simplicity has a flavour which though it lies beneath the surface is agreeable.


message 2: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie You DID it. I got sidetracked from thinking this should be done this way and here you and Sherry have it all set up.

I surely will miss this once I finish -- I'm over halfway in it. But I've already put several more books about Proust on the TBR shelf so will start those.

Back to say more after I do a bit of refreshing my memory here. Has anyone heard from Martin?

message 3: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:30PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie And, Barb, I find it of interest that you got truly stalled in The Captive and The Fugitive because it was very early in The Captive that I stalled out in my first reading while we were in Belgium -- The Captive and The Fugitive volume sat there untouched for nearly the last year of our stay there -- I'd thought it was due to outside things but now think it may also have had something to do with the story itself at that point. At any rate -- I'm glad to have made it beyond that with this little band of readers.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

This little band is a band of heroes! I fell off the reading schedule way way back, but have continued to follow your wonderful discussion, refreshing memories of my first reading and seeing so many things that passed me by. Back then it seemed a Herculean task to complete; now you have done it! Huge congratulations to everyone who read and participated. And admiration too. You are a fine group.

message 5: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie Aw shucks, Russ, you're gonna make us blush and all we've done is read and discussion a work which is the most amazing bit of literature I've ever encountered certainly. And Im for one, am so glad you hung around and cheered this group on -- only wish we could have convinced you to chime in from time to time -- your posts always gave great food for thought in the early going.

message 6: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie This is a small bit from very early in this last volume which I believe says volumes about Proust himself in a very short Proustian sentence:

The memory of the most multiple person establishes a sort of identity in him and makes him reluctant to go back on promises which he remembers, even if he has not countersigned them.

Soon after this he touches upon the memory contained in our physicality – the idea that arms and legs may retain memory.

And if we could keep a “tag” or “signature line on here – which I miss – I would start with this one from Time Regained:

…experience, which ought to have taught me – if ever it taught anybody anything – that loving is like an evil spell in a fairy-story against which one is powerless until the enchantment has passed.

That bit held up alongside his obsessive pursuits of Gilberte and Albertine – provide humor as well as pathos in my opinion. I gave me a chuckle certainly.

There was another beautiful passage of description of moonlight also – I can’t explain why I felt this was too different or melancholic – maybe it was my own baggage at the point I started this though I wasn’t aware of a mood. I may wind up finishing this and then going back to reread it immediately – who knows – not the whole thing just this last book of it.

I also loved his comment on understanding or predicting behaviour of nations:

But just as there are animal bodies and human bodies, each one of which is an assemblage of cells as large in relation to a single cell as Mont Blanc, so there exist huge organised accumulations of individuals which are called nations: their life does no more than repeat on a larger scale the lives of their constituent cells, and anybody who is incapable of comprehending the mystery, the reactions, the laws of these smaller lives, will only make futile pronouncements when he talks about the struggles between nations. But if he is master of the psychology of individuals, then these colossal masses of conglomerated individuals will assume in his eyes, as they confront one another, a beauty more potent than that of the struggle which arises from the conflict between two characters….

message 7: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara Oh great, so good to see the discussion here when I checked today! There is a goodreads Proust group, but no discussion so I emailed the person who started it. Hopefully, he will join us. His profile says that he is reading The Captive & The Fugitive just now. I also emailed Dash--hopefully, he will return not just for Proust but for other discussions. My email address for Martin doesn't appear to be current because he didn't get the email I sent him when we first went to goodreads.

Dottie, I find it very interesting that you stalled out at the same point that I did. There were moments in that book when I just wanted to throw it at the wall. But, there were always enough bits of genius to keep me coming back to it. I haven't read enough critical discussion of ROTP to know if that book is rated less highly than the others. Or, maybe it was just us.

And, am I right that we started this journey toward the end of 2006? I have Swann's Way listed toward the end of my 2006 books.

Russ, what a nice compliment you pay us! Please stay in on the discussion.

Dottie, I love that quote about nations. Wouldn't it be nice if we could get the leadership of our nations to read and understand even this bit of Proust?


message 8: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie The first book we began reading I THINK July 2006, Barb, but I’d have to go back and check to be certain. So I guess we don’t get high marks for reading all of Proust in a year – but we allowed time off here and there to accommodate people’s preferences and schedules which I think helped keep us afloat in the long run.

I actually found two Proust groups – neither had discussions as such -- shall we contact the other group also? I hadn’t had time to troll around the second group yet but will do so. I hope some members from both will chime in here.

Barb – it would be wonderful if political leaders had more of such understandings of the human element.
How do we determine that those we vote in have even some small knowledge of the connection?

I’ll add some further quotes when I get time – I’m back in gear and actually marked things to speak about after stumbling through TC and TF as I did. It helps to be staying put in CA I’m finding – not only in my reading but in a lot of other things as well (including tossing out “stuff” in preparation for moving -- I’ve even decided to aim for something less than the two years Jim had originally allotted to this project, but I’m not telling him that yet).

message 9: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara Dottie, I didn't see that Bluestocking group. The group's moderator lists Swann's Way as a book she is currently reading so they may just be starting. I just sent a request to join the group though so I can see. If they OK me, I will let them know about our discussion.

I think one of the things that I like about Time Regained is that he is looking at the world after he has been in the sanitarium. The viewpoint seems to have more perspective, more wisdom, a bit more of an idea of what is truly important. I still find myself disengaging when he focuses on the status of various individuals. And, the word "callow" comes to mind when he talked about women in The Captive and the Fugitive. I don't think I've ever written that word before!


message 10: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie Barb, I sent the bluestocking woman an e-mail already so we will see if I hear back from that group.

I think that she hasn't updated her current reading for while as there is a date -- I think June but that might have been one I saw elsewhere. Still it leaves me wondering if they've "given up" on Proust.

message 11: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie The effects of the sanatorium stays may have been part of my response to this as melancholic and different – I think you are correct that it differs as a result of those enforced time periods away from the daily living and left with only the past to ponder. Lengthy confinements do have an effect upon a person’s personality and life often times and illness changes one’s outlook on those things we deem important.

As for that quote on nations and individuals – funny but in this later quote regarding the topic – I find myself reading the whole in an opposite mood – a warning that leaders may need to bear in mind as we try to fit many cultures into one space or nation.

Here is the follow-up:

Now within a nation the individual , if he is truly part of the nation, is simply a cell of the nation-individual. It is ridiculous to talk of the power of propoganda. Had the French been told that they were going to be beaten, no single Frenchman would have given way to despair any more than he would if he had been told that he was going to be killed by the Berthas. The real propoganda is what – if we are genuinely a living member of a nation – we tell ourselves because we have hope, hope being a symbol of a nation’s instinct of self-preservation.

He then moves into the idea that it is patriotism which is needed to maintain hope for the individual nation’s success. This is all related to Charlus and his Germanic praises. At one point M. points out that people see everything through their newspaper – that rang a bell with our spoon-fed new-bytes from all sides these days. So we have to sort out the real news from elsewhere. Another comment in the book was that “this public which judges the men and events of the war solely from the newspapers, is persuaded that it forms its own opinions.” -- that made me laugh – the more things change, the more they stay the same – and isn’t that a bit what Proust is aiming for us to know?

message 12: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie And here’s a bit on the subject of time which I found of interest:

A minute freed from the order of time has recreated in us, to feel it, the man freed from the order of time. And one can understand that this man should have confidence in his joy, even if the simple taste of a madeleine does not seem logically to contain within it the reasons for this joy, one can understand that the word “death” should have no meaning for him; situated outside time, why should he fear the future?

message 13: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie On art and life:

For instinct dictates our duty and the intellect supplies us with pretexts for evading it. But excuses have no place in art and intentions count for nothing: at every moment the artist has to listen to his instinct, and it is this that makes art the most real of all things, the most austere school of life, the true last judgment.

And another:

The truth is that as soon as the reasoning intelligence takes it upon itself to judge works of art, nothing is any longer fixed or certain: you can prove anything you wish to prove. Whereas the reality of talent is something universal, whether it be a gift or an acquirement, and the first thing that a reader has to do is to find out whether this reality is present beneath a writer’s superficial mannerisms of thought and style, it is upon just these superficial mannerisms that criticism seizes when it sets out to classify authors.

message 14: by Barbara (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara it is upon just these superficial mannerisms that criticism seizes when it sets out to classify authors. Oh, I hope I remember that quote.

Jim just posted the following in a dicussion of a Nabokov story and I wanted to share it here because it so perfectly contains what I like about Proust--

I am reminded of a discussion of Proust that showed up on the Chekov's Mistress blog the other day:

"Proust felt that a long sentence contained a whole, complex thought. The shape of the sentence was the shape of the thought, and every word was necessary to the thought. When he used a deliberate effect like alliteration, it was there not as an empty flourish, but to tie two similar elements or contrasting elements together in one’s mind."

message 15: by Dottie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dottie I like that!

I've been reading the rest of the Proust in big gulps believe it or not -- and finding as amazing as ever. I was chuckling quietly as he told his thought while talking with Gilberte about his plans for socializing which he knew were not going to be actually pursued due to his having decided to finally begin his life's work. I also chuckled at the off-hand reference to the way a group visit to an artist's bedside fell flat as he was working -- there were likely a few of those encounters as he/Proust wrote this grand epic.

Barb, how are you progressing -- or have you been too busy to include it in the schedule lately?

message 16: by Barbara (last edited Mar 26, 2008 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Barbara Five minutes ago, I finally turned the last page of Time Regained. Wahoo! I am glad to be done and curiously sad as well. This last volume of Remembrance of Things Past is undoubtedly one of my 2 favorites, along with Swann's Way. For the last 100 pages, I was highlighting like crazy. There were so many passages that I want to be able to find when I go back into this. Throughout these books, I grew impatient with M's fickle attitudes towards his relationships. How fitting that Gilberte should present him with her own daughter! And, the fascination with the aristocracy was wearing. But, Proust's way with language and power of observation is exceptional, probably among the top 5 of writers I've read in my lifetime. His observations about time will be with me forever, I think.

How long ago did we start this odyssey, Dottie?

Dottie I believe we began Volume I July 2006, Barb. I think the final volume though it began slowly (more than the normal Proustian slowness) and made me impatient at the beginning became one of my favorites of the books as well. I am so very glad that you were with our little group on the grand adventure and that you fell in love wtih Proust's language and his time just as I had done.

I feel I made quite the journey with my nearly decade of keeping company with this author -- I began with (what's her name???)'s The Year of Reading Proust in 1998 and took my freshly purchased set of Proust to Belgium in November that year -- I don't know the exact time I began reading the first volume the first time -- but likely 1999. And I got stuck in Volume V sometime around late 2000 or early 2001. I dabbled in Vol V a couple of times between then and our group venture beginning July 2006.

I toyed with the idea of just tagging along and not rereading the first four books but am ever so glad I couldn't actually do it that way and I think I'll go back and re-read V and VI before I ever start the entire read over again.

REread all of Proust? Is she/am I crazy? Well, no, but I'm almost certain I WILL do that eventually -- no matter how many books are waiting -- I know there will come a point where I need to wallow in that language and feel those tiny seconds creeping by in a way that only Proust can make one feel them.

Dottie Barb, Proust and Russo, eh? Lucy and his book and the shifting memories of many of the characters. Proust does give one a lot with which to approach books and reading -- and life.

Barbara Wow, it's been almost 2 years for me. Don't you wish that Martin would show up here? Then, Martin, Ricki, Dash, you and I could do a little summing up.

Ricki, do you still have a way to contact him (I'm obviously hoping that you find these notes)?

Dottie, I tried very hard to highlight my favorite passages in all of the volumes, hoping that I would return and at least read parts of them. They will definitely be on my shelves for a very long time, no donations made of these.

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