Friday, January 4, 2008

A Love of Swann's

Filmed as 'Swann in Love' and seen by me some years ago (mainly because it starred Jeremy Irons for whom I had a weakness in my distant youth), I am finally reading the portion of Proust's massive opus A la recherche du temps perdu (translated in the latest Penguin edition as In search of lost time) called 'A Love of Swann's'. What stikes me is the incredible modern-ness of the text (complete as it is with bitchy asides about philistinism and superficiality). Part 1: 'Combray' dripped with sensuous descriptions of the natural & built world of the author's childhood and the most profound insights into how mind, memory and desire operate (don't think I am saying anything new re. Proust here!) but this second part is much more brittle and pacy yet still makes these startling observations about how we experience pleasure, tedium, practise self delusion etc. Even though the book's vocabulary and allusions are 'classical' or at least historically specific for me the world conjured up is far more immediate and modern that those of Joyce or Woolf! More later when the train ride home allows me to visit Marcel again!

4 comments:

Valmont said...

Damn you! I was operating heavy machinery while reading this and had a most dreadful accident. Never again will I frequent this column without the appropriate WorkCover-approved safety gear.

Alice said...

Valmont, if you can't stand the heat please stay in the kitchen!

LD said...

When did the title change from 'Remembrance of Things Past'? Seems more romantic to me...

Alice said...

Hi Phoenix, according to the general editor's preface to the latest Penguin edition, 'remembrance' was a translation abhorred by Proust as nostalgia-laden and sentimental. The choice of 'In seach of' is an attempt to be truer to Proust's actual language and intention.