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Review. "As close to being a definitive English version of the great novel as we are likely to get. This new edition will serve to introduce new generations of.
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Ulysses Second Tour: Evening Sessions. Homer's Odyssey in Greece: One-week immersion. Reading the Body: Salon and Yoga retreat in Umbria. First Name. I was certainly surprised at how much I was thrown off balance by these two astounding writers…I look forward to returning for more. We all came to the group with different backgrounds and interests but Mark has skillfully guided us through a stimulating programme of Greek literature.

I always leave the meetings with a much broader understanding of what we are reading than when I arrived. The "too much-ness" of it caused it to feel mean-spirited, and I wondered if it was casual snobbery on Proust's part or a character trait of the narrator. Thankfully, this was basically confined to one section.

And, then, as with the beginning and other sections throughout, the work is elevated, again, by the exquisite, gorgeous final fourth, a reflecting back to a scene seen through a window in the first volume narrator-as-voyeur again and a beautiful passage of the train that at each stop holds an image of a friend, no longer strangers in a strange land, originally felt as such during our sensitive boy's first visit to Balbec.

View all 28 comments. It is not without pleasure that I found all the characters of the Research in this central tome, in which Proust has slipped numerous lines of humour. We will learn more about the personalities of Baron Charlus and Albertine, through the theme of inversion, addressed from the beginning of the novel. The reception at the Princess de Guermantes's house offers, one more treat, a delightful visit to the aristocratic saloons. It is also the opportunity to find the "little nucleus" Verdurin: the Patro It is not without pleasure that I found all the characters of the Research in this central tome, in which Proust has slipped numerous lines of humour.

It is also the opportunity to find the "little nucleus" Verdurin: the Patroness, her husband and the "faithful", all seeming even more ridiculous to me than when we meet them for the first time, in the home side Swann. The novel closes with the decision of the narrator to marry Albertine, something to give certainly want to read the next! View all 8 comments. I finished Sodom and Gomorrah over a week ago, and since then I've been mulling over whether to write a proper "review" of it or not. It was the most amorphous of any of the volumes yet, and thus it is slightly more difficult to speak about, or really wrap my thoughts around.

Also, at this point, considering any of the volumes of A la recherche Certainly, Swann's Way , up through the "novel within the novel" Swann in Love volume one , coul I finished Sodom and Gomorrah over a week ago, and since then I've been mulling over whether to write a proper "review" of it or not.

Certainly, Swann's Way , up through the "novel within the novel" Swann in Love volume one , could be considered, if read only on their own, without venturing any deeper into the novel, as distinct chunks of prose, seemingly existing without necessary reference to the rest. But once you step forward, beginning with "Place-Names, The Name" at the end of volume one, there really is no separation to the story; the further you read, the more you realize how significant and interwoven all those earlier, almost slight incidents of the first few volumes have become, and one is resigned, albeit a blissful resignation, to 4, pages of Proust.

One is then tempted to keep their mouth shut until the whole of In Search of Lost Time is read and digested, and give the novel its proper treatment, that of a single, though immense, narrative. But Proust himself created the divisions within the novel, gave them their titles, and undoubtedly wanted the reader to consider them distinctly, but volume four especially felt like a link in the chain that was quite dependent on what came before and what follows, that is to say it felt transitional, and indeed transformational, because I am sure that after the revelation that closes Sodom and Gomorrah one that sent me rushing to start volume 5 , Marcel will never be the same.

To name it would be to spoil too much for the casual reader of these thoughts; it would be a disservice to someone going into the novel to reveal too much, as Proust's revelations are best discovered in his own particular oceanic depths and rhythms. So I will speak generally of a few things that struck me in volume four: 1. Events from the earlier volumes begin to resurface, repeat, gain in significance the butterfly beating its wings that causes a hurricane on the other side of the Earth , and the attentive reader stands in awe of the power of Proust the novelist, and it is further impressed upon one that to do justice to the experience of reading A la recherche du temps perdu , it is best to read these volumes back to back; a great separation in time between them would only cause one to lose the thread, to break that stream of consciousness that is ever flowing backwards, retrieving treasures and casting them forward again through the years.

As in life itself, events from the distant past do not lose their force, they are only submerged in the glacial flow of what follows, and when one reflects, it is perhaps the minor incidents, those barely considered at the moment they are experienced, that vibrate subtly in the body of the instrument and are retained in a lingering overtone, almost too quiet for our ears to capture, but that later shakes us to the core nonetheless, in that sort of strangely preserving bodily memory which is almost out of the reach of conscious attempts at recollection.

One of the great achievements of Proust the artist is his portrayal of the contradictions and variety of character within a single person. In Sodom and Gomorrah it is M. No one is who they are on the surface, and if they are presenting themselves in a certain way you can be sure that they are hiding either opposite inclinations, or gross deficiencies, or if they boast of talent or knowledge they are covering for what they are actually inept at or ignorant of, or if they are generous or kindly it is from some socially trained gesture and they are sure to later spit venom at the former subject of their pleasantries, or if they are overtly cruel at one moment they will show themselves later to be capable of indulgent tenderness.

In other words, what Proust understands and sets down so perfectly is the infinite complexity of the human personality, the multitude of motives behind our social, and even personal interactions, or, to use Shelley's words, that "Nought may endure but Mutability".

This is extended even to the physiognomic descriptions of characters such as Albertine and Mme. This is one of the great themes of the novel, the subjectivity of perception. The need for possession is seldom triggered by love, and most often triggered by jealousy. This especially is the case for Marcel, who shows frankly psychotic jealous tendencies.

I mean, we are supposed to know that this young man has a sometimes debilitating nervous disorder, and physical ailments such as asthma that often restrict his activity and allow him long bed-bound hours of introverted contemplation , but his jealousy over Albertine which, I can say, is a hundred times more pronounced so far in volume five , is unsettling.

It is not only his relationship with Albertine that is seemingly ignited by jealousy alone, but also in the case of Charlus and Morel, and in perhaps all of the social gatherings, it is a need for possession or in the social case, domination , provoked by a kind of covetous resentfulness, that motivates these people. And while Marcel is superior to them because of his brilliant artistic aptitude, true talent for observation, "the painterly-poetic eye" he still suffers from the same malady.

More on this later. In Search of Lost Time , while always tinged with melancholy and I fear, tragedy , is essentially comedic. The drawing rooms of the upper-echelon resound with sardonic, parodic laughter. Marcel is making fun of these people, amplifying their defects, mocking their arbitrary tastes, making use of the one tool that always subverts and destroys a power structure: laughter.

The Verdurins return in volume four, seeking Marcel out to show off how artistic and "forward" their salon is, and thank god for this.

Sodom - As in the Days of Sodom & Gomorrah.

They are hilariously cruel, utterly contemptuous of anyone outside their "little clan", on the whole not very bright, but entertaining as hell. The train rides along the Norman coast with Brichot's etymological digressions on French place-names are some of the highlights of this volume.

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Marcel's return to Balbec is quite different from his first sojourn to the shore. Now he is a connected, sought after man of society. The exorcising of this grief is detailed in the strongest section of volume four, entitled "The Intermittencies of the Heart", a powerful exposition on dealing with the death of a loved one. His grief is assuaged in one of those miracle landscape descriptions that Proust so excels at: "Where I had seen with my grandmother in the month of August only green leaves and, so to speak, the disposition of the apple-trees, as far as the eye could reach they were in full bloom, unbelievably luxurious, their feet in the mire beneath their ball-dresses, heedless of spoiling the most marvellous pink satin that was ever seen, which glittered in the sunlight; the distant horizon of the sea gave the trees the background of a Japanese print; if I raised my head to gaze at the sky through the flowers, which made its serene blue appear almost violent, they seemed to draw apart to reveal the immensity of their paradise.

Beneath the azure a faint but cold breeze set the blushing bouquets gently trembling. Blue-tits came and perched upon the branches and fluttered among the indulgent flowers, as though it had been an amateur of exotic art and colours who had artificially created this living beauty. But it moved one to tears because, to whatever lengths it went in its effects of refined artifice, one felt that it was natural, that these apple-trees were there in the heart of the country, like peasants on one of the high roads of France.

Then the rays of the sun gave place suddenly to those of the rain; they streaked the whole horizon, enclosing the line of apple-trees in their grey net. But these continued to hold aloft their pink and blossoming beauty, in the wind that had turned icy beneath the drenching rain: it was a spring day. There is a deep loneliness at the heart of In Search of Lost Time.

This has its roots in Marcel's keen awareness of the aforementioned subjectivity of perception thus our inability to truly know another person , the unreliability of memory, the fact that only our past experiences shape the human being we become, that we are subject and slave to what we retain of their lessons, and yet these experiences are held in a faulty vessel.

In the final summation, one is deceived as much by one's perception of one's self as that of the outside world, and though we would like to believe that the choices we make are generated from the intellect, it is indeed emotions, things stirring in the vague realms of consciousness, the invisible influences of our personal history that dictate our fates, things so often hidden or alien to our daily lives that it is almost as if our choices were made by another. That is what lies behind the ridiculous, fateful choice Marcel is brought to in the closing lines of Sodom and Gomorrah - the reverberations of the past, specifically that kiss - the maternal kiss, the one that initiated this whole novel, that kiss the one forced into being by a slight of hand, by a deception , whose tenderness was so enhanced by being deprived of it; that comforting, calming kiss from mother that reassured a sickly, nervous child that he was loved and protected, and perhaps most of all, that he was possessed by someone, and that he in turn could possess her; that kiss that at once liberates and imprisons, calms and destroys.

Marcel, I'm worried for you. You are not heeding the lessons of Swann in Love oh so many thousands of pages ago! What is that great Bob Dylan line, "You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way"?

Marcel Proust (1871-1922): Works in Translation

I see dark days ahead for you, Marcel. View all 16 comments. Will any indirect reference to Proust's army of inverts turn me into a pillar of salt? Will I disquiet my friends and my family with funky quotes from Proust's salon-centric novel?

In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 4

It is hard to grab this one volume and grade or inspect it separate from the previous three, and seems premature to attempt to capture the full body of ISOLT before reading the next three. But this is a novel that once started, must be finished. It is also a novel that needs to be eaten in discrete and slow chunks. I'm not sure it is possible to eat an entire wheel of Leerdammer by oneself, or to drink an entire Hogshead of wine, or to read Proust's ISOLT all the way through. It is brilliant, but needs to be consumed in small graceful quantities, preferably with your pinky sticking out.

View 2 comments. Jun 10, Bram rated it it was amazing Shelves: , proustophilia. Mild, general spoilers Ah, Proust, damn you.

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Damn you, damn you. You tricked me. But then you went ahead and wrote the final 17 charged pages of Sodom and Gomorrah , sentencing me to final pages of sorrow and anguish. F Mild, general spoilers Ah, Proust, damn you. I still held to life; I knew that I could now expect from it only what was cruel. You bastard. You or the narrator, whatever could have been happy.

Of course. From well over a thousand pages ago, a seemingly inconsequential observation.

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And damn you, M. Proust, I care. The beginning of the volume, initially published along with the end of the previous volume according to the introduction, continues to focus on vapid, aristocratic society life, but with one major new facet: our young narrator now sees gay people…everywhere. The little voyeur catches one furtive man-on-man session and suddenly his gaydar goes from nonexistent to hyperactive.

Oh place names reduced to their historical tribal derivation and places reduced to fancy homes where one is always welcome. Spoiler: everyone's an invert. Loved the opening essay on inverts. I love the word invert. Albertine waltzing with a female friend in a mutally arousing way, with tah-tahs touching -- shocking! I don't have too much to say about how Marcel handles inversion.

I suppose it's outdated but also, as a reader, I couldn't help being like dude the reason you're flipping and flopping about marrying Albertine and worried about her lady lovin' is that you, the author, clearly want to press your chest to the chest of someone named Albert.

In general, glad this one's over and glad I made it through. The prose pulls you through even if the characters don't seem as loved by the author as much as the artists Bergotte and Elstir, or revered friends like Saint-Loup. Nevertheless, dog-eared dozens of pages, especially toward the end, of Proust-y excellence. Flowing insight wins the day and makes the dual whirlpools of not always so scintillating chitchat worthwhile. Five stars for In Search of Lost Time so far -- four stars for this volume.

Might add some quotations later. Here's the bit from page about seeing an airplane for the first time: "I felt this longing to escape especially strongly one day when, having left Albertine at her aunt's, I had gone on horseback to call on the Verdurins and had taken an unfrequented path through the woods the beauty of which they had extolled to me. Hugging the contours of the cliff, it alternately climbed and then, hemmed in by dense woods on either side, dived into wild gorges. For a moment the barren rocks by which I was surrounded, and the sea that was visible through their jagged gaps, swam before my eyes like fragments of another universe: I had recognised the mountainous and marine landscape which Elstir had made the scene of those two admirable water-colours, "Poet meeting a Muse" and "Young Man meeting a Centaur," which I had seen at the Duchesse de Guermantes's.

The memory of them transported the place in which I now found myself so far outside the world of today that I should not have been surprised if, like the young man of the prehistoric age that Elstir had painted, I had come upon a mythological personage in the course of my ride. Suddenly, my horse reared; he had heard a strange sound; it was all I could do to hold him and remain in the saddle; then I raised my tear-filled eyes in the direction from which the sound seemed to come and saw, not two-hundred feet above my head, against the sun, between two great wings of flashing metal which were bearing him aloft, a creature whose indistinct face appeared to me to resemble that of a man.

I was as deeply moved as an ancient Greek on seeing for the first time a demi-god. I wept -- for I had been ready to weep the moment I realised that the sound came from above my head aeroplanes were still rare in those days , at the thought that what I was going to see for the first time was an aeroplane.

Then, just as when in a newspaper one senses that one is coming to a moving passage, the mere sight of the machine was enough to make me burst into tears.

Meanwhile, the airman seemed to be uncertain of his course; I felt that there lay open before him -- before me, had no habit made me a prisoner -- all the routes in space, in life itself; he flew on, let himself glide for a few moments over the sea, then quickly making up his mind, seeming to yield to some attraction that was the reverse of gravity, as though returning to his native element, with a slight adjustment of his golden wings he headed straight up into the sky.

We have the craven Charlus and Jupien mirroring the lesbian scene that the narrator sees in the first book. The narrator has his first taste of death and mourning as his grandmother which cuts him to the bone. It is an exciting and brutal book full of action and description in equal parts and the growing obsession of the narrator for the possession of Albertine. This of course is the subject of the next book. Le Prisonniere I just finished Volume 4 and have jumped right into Volume 5 with sheer excitement. I haven't written any other Proust reviews, but this Volume was easily the best for me so far so I thought I should share a few words.

A lar I just finished Volume 4 and have jumped right into Volume 5 with sheer excitement. A large part of what I see Proust working towards is articulating the way in which we become aware of our feelings, learn about other people, and become exposed to parts of the world we had only dreamed of previously. And this is where the whole obsession with peoples' and "place-name"s comes in.

At first the narrator and the reader as well encounter a name, of a person or a place, and we form an initial idea of what they are like, we muse and daydream and idealize and underestimate, and these conceptions inevitably suffer from certain preconceived notions or assumptions. Then life allows us to become acquainted with these people, these places, art forms, and our contact gives rise to a transformation of our perceptions sometimes gradually , and, more often for Proust, in the dramatic crescendo of an epiphany and we arrive at a deeper understanding or knowledge of ourselves and the people and things around us.

A good example of this is the story arc regarding the narrator's fascination with the actress Berma that stretches across vols. At first he daydreams about the actress and nearly kills himself with grief because he is unable to witness her performance, then he finally gets to see a show and it is nothing like what he expected and he's disappointed and thinks everyone is wrong about her greatness, and then he lets go of his expectations and realizes that at first he was unable to understand what made her such a great actress. In this vein, volume 4 provides the following: "I was beginning to think that "recognitions" might indeed express an important part of life, if one knew how to penetrate to the romantic core of things, when all of a sudden the truth flashed across my mind and I realised that I had been absurdly ingenuous.

Every once and a while the narrator finds himself in a situation, a physical location, or merely in a certain mood, and he becomes aware of how all of these various selves are staggered across time, intertwining and variously associated with the people and the places he encounters. The best example of this is the beautiful "Intermittencies of the Heart" section of volume 4. The room in the Grand Hotel evokes all of his memories of the time they spent together on their previous trip, but also evokes the feelings of grief that he felt upon his grandmother's death which had dulled over time.

The grief he feels for his grandmother, however, feels so akin to the grief he felt immediately following her death that he has the feeling that he has reverted back to a prior state of existence, that he has not aged a minute. There is a self within him that surfaces at various moments and gives him an unshakable sense of revisiting his past, which prompts him to muse upon his memories of those times.

We get to see a woman getting drenched by a wind-blown water spout during a garden party, two identical waiters with matching Tomato Heads who are not equally receptive to the advances of one of their patrons, parties where everyone knows someone else's secret and make jokes about it to cause them alarm, and people who aren't sure if others know their secrets and perceive otherwise innocent statements as suggestive insults.

Of course, Proust's favorite joke is when people mistake a banished low-life for a leading social figure or when they don't know how prestigious one of their guests is in comparison to their other guests. Lastly, Proust does a lot of interesting structural things here that seem unique to this volume so far. Early on he addresses the reader directly and promises to get back to the main story. At one point the narrator says that he can't keep telling us stories because he's about to take a trip which ends up providing the content for the second half of the novel, which suggests that the narrator is writing in the "present" while the events we are reading about are taking place, though he frequently refers to vague resolutions to ongoing affairs which occur years in the future and he never recounts any time spent writing the very material we are reading.

At the end, there's also a very interesting passage structured around the train the narrator and his crew ride out to their dinner parties. As the narrator travels down the line, each stop evokes a new story, sometimes that story ties in with the "present" time line and some times it doesn't but Proust, as always, manages to tie it altogether somehow, which is really for me the most amazing part. I don't know how he does it and I can't imagine how much genius was needed to put this whole thing together, but I'm definitely in for the rest of the ride.

Three volumes to go!


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View all 10 comments. Some have accused Proust of being "long-winded. Proust preferred to work on a large canvas. Having read the first four volumes of "In Search of Lost Time," I am even more convinced that Proust is a literary talent of the highest order. He is a writer of immense sensibility in the true sense of the word.

His perception and memory and intelligence permeate his writing. Like Balzac, whom he admired, Proust focused Some have accused Proust of being "long-winded. Like Balzac, whom he admired, Proust focused his sensibility upon high society in Paris in his heyday. He continually discoursed about the the manners of the circles in which he moved and sheds light, as did Balzac, on the complexities of the strata and protocol and behavior of his social peers.

One is able to get a close look at this realm in which he was considered a literary luminary and rightly so, after winning France's greatest literary prize at such an early age. Like Balzac he built his volumes in a "serial" fashion by ending each in dramatic fashion: the characters reappear from volume to volume. And one learns about their health, their misfortunes, their affairs often through the hearsay of other characters, as it happens in real life. Despite the despicable ways that the characters often treat each other, Proust speaks within the tapestry of the "human comedy" as the humble voice of reason.

But for Proust society was his life and his legacy is partly at least the light that he sheds upon his own human comedy.

The beauty of the language is breathtaking --the language is utterly lyrical and once one surrenders to the pulse and flow of his long sentence syntax, one finds the transforming genius of his art. I am eager to begin Volume 5 -- the man is a bonafide genius. He deals with sensitive subjects in good taste and with sage discretion -- Proust communicates with his readers as he probably did in society: honestly, articulately and with the best of all manners.

He didn't live long enough to read the publication of half the volumes of his greatest masterpiece: Volume 4 was the last he lived to see published. What an absolute pity! Jul 06, Sue rated it really liked it Shelves: classics , france , fiction , read , proust. I have to say, M. Proust really pulled this book out for me. I was not enjoying much of the middle of the book, but the last third was excellent and revived my spirits for continuing on with the saga.

Once again it was some of the Salons that tended to decrease my connection although the descriptions of the Balbec area and our narrator's return to the coast caught me up again. In a section that seemed to sum up much of the meaning of this book, Proust writes: Other women, it was true, had been in I have to say, M.

In a section that seemed to sum up much of the meaning of this book, Proust writes: Other women, it was true, had been interposed between the Albertine loved on that first occasion and the one whom at present I hardly ever left; other women, notably the Duchesse de Guermantes.

But, people will say, why agonize so over Gilberte, or go to so much trouble over Mme de Guermantes, if, having become the latter's friend, it was solely in order not to think about her any more, but only about Albertine? Swann, before his death, might have known the answer, he who had been a connoisseur of phantoms. These Balbec roads were full of them, of phantoms pursued, forgotten, sought after afresh, sometimes for a single interview and so as to touch an unreal life that had at once made its escape.

Reflecting that their trees, pears, apples, and tamarisks would outlive me, I seemed to be receiving from them the advice finally to set to work while the hour of eternal rest had yet to sound. Addendum: I am also providing a link to another review of this book which I very much appreciated. View all 9 comments. Nov 16, Bettie rated it really liked it Shelves: re-visit , autumn