Today’s book love review is Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, and it is perhaps my all time favorite.
There are a few things you should know about this novel before you attempt it. First, it is not plot driven at all. This is a book that you languor in and dwell upon. It is not a quick read. Second, Proust believed that sentences should mirror thoughts and so his sentences ramble on. I love it, but some people hate it. The story is an attempt to remember the things that make a person feel, and it reads like memories do-drifting, halting, dwelling, and then floating on to the next without a thought to chronology or connection. Proust describes the simple with a profound insight and reading his prose is like basking in sunlight.
“The places we have known do not belong solely to the world of space in which we situate them for our greater convenience. They were only a thin slice among contiguous impressions which formed our life at that time; the memory of a certain image is but regret for a certain moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fleeting, alas, as the years.”
In his quest for things forgotten and times gone, Proust examines the subtleties and qualities of different memories. He explores those things that bring the past rushing back in vivid detail and then describes those details in a way that ensures you are standing right along with him. It is as if the book becomes a part of you, weaving into your own memories so that you do not know where you begin, and the book ends.
“Many years have passed since that night. The wall of the staircase up which I had watched the light of his candle gradually climb was long ago demolished. And in myself, too, many things have perished which I imagined would last for ever, and new ones have arisen, giving birth to new sorrows and new joys which in those days I could not have foreseen, just as now the old are hard to understand.”
I highly recommend Swann’s way. If you are a lover of words, then your reading is not complete until you have added Proust to your list. Thankfully, there are six more volumes to In Search of Lost Time so that I will be able to continue this joyous quest. For me, reading Proust is a spiritual experience, one in which I come away from the pages knowing myself better. 5 out of 5 stars.
“Sometimes in the afternoon sky the moon would pass white as a cloud, furtive, lusterless, like an actress who does not have to perform yet and who, from the audience, in street clothes, watches the other actors for a moment, making herself inconspicuous, not wanting anyone to pay attention to her.”