Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Originally published as ‘A La Recherche du Temps Perdu in 1913. In this opening volume of Proust’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcel_Proust) masterpiece, the narrator seems at first to be launching a fairly traditional life-story. But after the prelude the narrator travels backwards rather than forwards in time, in order to tell the story of a love affair that had taken place before his own birth. Swann’s jealous love for Odette, together with the comic antics of the Verdurins and the adoring members of their ‘little clan’, provide a prophetic model of the narrator’s own love-relationships and peregrinations in salon society. All Proust’s great themes – time and memory, love and loss, art and the artistic vocation – are bubbling away here. If you can manage to kindle an appreciation for Proust after reading Swann’s Way there are another 6 heavyweight volumes to saturate your mind with Proustian pre-occupation!

Delving into the secondary literature, kick off with The Cambridge Introduction to Marcel Proust (2011) by Adam Watt (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cambridge-Introduction-Marcel-Introductions-Literature/dp/0521516439/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1389195940&sr=8-1)

With the appetite whetted go to The Cambridge Companion to Marcel Proust (2001) edited by Richard Bales (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cambridge-Companion-Proust-Companions-Literature/dp/052166019X/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1389196200&sr=8-1)

Exalted claims have been made for Proust’s work. A recent paean is that of Alain de Botton – How Proust Can Change your Life’ (1998) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Proust-Change-Your-Life/dp/0330354914/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373702201&sr=1-1&keywords=de+botton+proust) We may not be able to regain the past, but Proust teaches us how to slow down, deepen, and intensify the present. A useful enchiridion for the long journey. Bonne chance mes amis!

For the life reach for Edmund White’s Marcel Proust (1998) (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marcel-Proust-Penguin-Biography-Biographies/dp/0670880574/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1389195703&sr=8-1)

Volker Schlondorff directed the 1983 film version (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088315/?ref_=sr_1) with Jeremy Irons as Charles and Ornella Muti as Odette de Crecy. Available on DVD at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swann-Region-Compatible-Amour-Swann/dp/B0085SU0RC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373702014&sr=8-1&keywords=swann+in+love

544 pages in Vintage Classics paperback edition

First published 1913

ISBN 978-0099362210

Marcel Proust  photographed before disappearing into a cork-lined bedroom for 3 years

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