All citations are from the Modern Library version, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrief and Terence Kilmarten, revised by D.J. Enright and noted by (Volume, Page).

I call the protagonist Marcel, who owns the point of view for most of the novel, and the narrator is the elder Marcel, looking back on his life. Occasionally the author, Proust, makes an appearance.

As for the enjoyment which is derived by a really discerning mind and a truly living heart from a thought beautifully expressed in the writings of a great writer, this is no doubt an entirely wholesome enjoyment, but, precious though the men may be who are truly capable of enjoying this pleasure–and how many of them are there in a generation?–they are nevertheless in the very process reduced to being no more than the full consciousness of another…he has added to it nothing…(VI,296)

If you enjoy this site, you may also like my blog devoted to Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities.


12 Responses to “About”

  1. Steve C in Seattle Says:

    Hi Jim – which Proust novel would you recommend for a newbie?


    • Jim Everett Says:

      The traditional way is to begin with Vol. 1, Swann’s Way, and work your way to Vol. 7, Time Regained. The advantage is that you will see the various characters develop and the grand plan of the novel unfold. You can adopt any number of other strategies, however. The opening pages of Swann’s Way are notoriously slow and have driven off some readers. If you find you are losing the desire to turn the page, skip ahead to the Madeleine scene and begin with Marcel’s childhood. You could also begin with the self-contained novella, Swann in Love and then go back to the parts you had not read. You will find sections of the novel more or less engaging for you, so let your level of interest be your guide. This novel has barely any plot, so you will not likely lose the thread by jumping around. My only other advice is to read slowly and closely, savoring sentences and paragraphs, more so than you might in a more conventional novel. I hope this helps you get started.

  2. Renee Says:

    Hello, Jim —

    I just read your group post about your test of the Google translator and enjoyed it very much. I love it when even I can translate better than a piece of code!

    Best of all, your signature contained this blog address… and I look forward to reading it. I began mine last September as well, when some people in the book discussion group I lead in the Barnes & Noble where I work wanted to read Proust. They didn’t back down even when I said it was a life commitment, not just a novel to read in a month. (My husband & I had read the whole thing out loud in English & French over 4 fun-filled years. ) And now we are 12, reading 10 pages & talking 1/2 hr a week, with emails & blog postings to supplement. What’s really been wonderful is to see them stick with it, and get it, and love it… and come back for more. We’re in the middle of Swann in Love now (coasting compared to Combray).

    Anyway, thanks again. I’m so happy to have found another resource!

    • Jim Everett Says:

      You are so lucky to have like-minded readers around you all day. I hope this blog helps tease out a little more discussion when your group meets.


  3. Mary Haskell Says:

    I just found this very interesting website.

  4. CP Says:

    Thank you for your thoughts and resources! You might add to your books list one by Howard Nemerov, once US poet laureate: The Oak in the Acorn. It’s a series of lectures at Brandeis, after he had read the novel for the fifth, maybe sixth, time. A poet on a poet, very rich, I find. Readily available on Alibris, etc.

    • Jim Everett Says:

      Thanks for the suggestion; I’ll look for the book. My favorite Proust commentators have been mostly other writers. Apparently others agree; my most visited posts have been those featuring Beckett. So far I have limited my book searches to whatever I serendipitously happened to find in used book shops. I have cleaned out the Strand in NY and Dickson St. Books in Fayetteville, AR.

      • Marcelita Swann Says:

        I thought I cleaned out The Strand! If you are looking for something heart-pumping, seek out Joseph, in Rare Books. He guided me to a James Merrill book, that I didn’t even realize I would love. Here is Merrill reading, “For Proust” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xy4mAM0jWOo

      • Jim Everett Says:

        A wonderful poem. One might guess that it is Swann speaking about Odette. But Swann died first. Proust himself never had an Albertine, so could it be him? Perhaps, then, it is the narrator, writing his novel; but Albertine had long been dead. It must be the echo of Proust in Merrill’s own imagination.

  5. Joshua Mostafa (@JoshuaMostafa) Says:

    Care to join our goodreads group and share your knowledge?

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