A Year of Proust

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Blogland is a little like Narnia: once you stray away from it all, you have no sense of how much time has passed when you return. Though three months is hardly my longest hiatus, it’s still a long time to have been away from books. And in this time, I’ve been mulling over things and concocted up this crazy idea that I’d like to tackle Proust this year. It’s crazy, because honestly speaking, I have less and less patience for books which require concentration. It’s not so much that I resent the effort, but I simply don’t have time to devote hours and hours to reading anymore, and I know I’ll get stuck somewhere along the way. I’ll probably put it down, get back to it a few weeks later, then lose interest and not pick it up again. As I did with Middlemarch. And with Portrait of a Lady. Speaking of that particular Henry James novel, I’ve stuck it onto my February reading list too. Seems I’m a stickler for torturing myself.

Inspired by the film Julie & Julia, I want to try get through one book every two months – which may not seem very ambitious at all, only that as we all know very well, Remembrance of Things Past (a title more reflective of its nature than Time Regained) is a dreamy, hazy, meandering sort of thing. And judging with my past experiences with stream-of-consciousness writing, narratives that are dreamy and hazy and meandering actually require more effort. You’ve got to catch the wave, and then ride with it, keeping with the rhythm, and once you lose that rhythm, you’re just lost. Lost. Not lost in the pleasant sense of the word either. Lost, as in you’re swimming against the current and trying so hard not to drown that you can’t make any sense of what’s going on around you. Anyway, no point fretting about that now. It’s too late to regret anything, because I’ve just ordered my copy of the first volume, Swann’s Way – in the Moncrieff translation published by Vintage Classics. Wish me luck! :)

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13 thoughts on “A Year of Proust

  1. Good luck! I’ve attempted Proust several times but never got that far in – long pages of long paragraphs don’t work well when you have only the odd half hour for some reason. I keep telling myself when the kids read home or when I finally retire……. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes!

  2. I not only wish you luck, I wish myself the same. Arti of RIpple Effects and I are starting Swann’s Way in April. If you wish to wait, and join us, you’re so welcome. Or, carry on with your noble plan. Perhaps I’ll continue on with you should you tackle Book 2?

  3. “Now are the woods all black,
    But still the sky is blue”

    Swann’s Way is not one of my favorites, but I can’t seem to forget a few things I read there.

    I suggest you to read C.K. Scott Moncrieff’s translation. That’s the best one around.

    1. I’m about halfway through Combray now, and I absolutely love Moncrieff’s language. I couldn’t care less about it being clouded, as some say, by the floweriness of his sentences! And I feel the same, in that Swann’s Way probably won’t be a favourite for me, but it will be memorable – and certainly a piece of literature worth experiencing.

  4. I’m so excited to hear Bellezza mention in my Read-Along Post that you’d like to join in. That’s great! You’ll find the details on my post. We read it slow, and only post twice. So you have plenty of time to read other books too. We’ve just started now. No need to wait till April, albeit the first post is April 15.

  5. If you have an idea, an instinct to want to read something, just go forth and indulge it and don’t beat yourself up about abandoning it either. All of the above is ok, it’s all part of the reading and life journey and everything is permissable.

    Your spring blossom pic is amazing and I do love those vintage covers of the Proust series. I’m so tempted by the covers, but have vowed not to read Proust until the kids leave home! Best read either before you start having them, or after they’re gone, enjoy the pleasure of your distractions while they are of your own making :)

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Claire! You’re right, I should just go with my instincts/indulge myself more when it comes to reading. Will definitely try to finish the whole thing before I have kids; I can’t even begin to imagine how chaotic life will be when children come into the picture!!!

  6. I’m so cheering you on! You can do it, you can do it, you can do it. I’ll even maybe read the last volume with you. Ha ha. Just kidding. Don’t want to jinx it! xx

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