When it’s all said and done, I’ve failed my year of Proust. I’m now only halfway through Within a Budding Grove, the second volume. It’s taken me half the year to get through less than two volumes. Though it’s only the end of July, and there are still five good months left in the year, I have no intention of racing through the remainder of Remembrance of Things Past – nor do I think it’s humanly possible to truly appreciate this masterpiece while ‘racing through it’.
To be fair, I’ve been through a lot of tough personal circumstances this year regarding health, relationships, and career decisions. Reading has been slow as a result. I’ve noticed, sadly, that literature takes a back-seat when the going gets tough. It was one of those years where I felt as though I was watching sequence after sequence of a horror movie, helpless to do anything but watch as my own life fell apart. But I’m slowly picking up the pieces, and with that, my love of literature is slowly recovering itself as well.
At this rate, it’ll probably be more a decade of Proust than a year, but I don’t mind. Why? Because I enjoy delving into that idyllic, dreamy world of his to keep myself in check. Proust allows me to dream, and to hope, and to indulge in a little beauty when life seems grim. It has a pleasant hum that I like to get lost in every once in a while when things wear me down. And so I’ll keep plodding on, without time restrictions and silly deadlines that I try to set for myself.
But I don’t feel all that silly about it, seeing as it’s what got me started in the first place. If I hadn’t set that project earlier this year, I would have continually pushed it back to make way for other books, and I would never have discovered the wonder of À la recherche du temps perdu.