My second week of Proust

by mudrhetoric

This second week was far more invigorating than the first. One is impelled to wonder if his work was constructed in this manner so that only those willing to trudge through the journey would have the ability to revel in its glory. Passing through the Overture and Combray, which were somewhat of a bore (although still well impressive) into that wild torrent of Swann in Love is just an experience that is difficult to describe, and nigh impossible to understand without having gone through the experience of work of the sections preceding it.

I think the part that I found the most intriguing is how the text matches the psychological state of the subject. I was mulling this over after I had completed Swann in Love and thinking about how it ended in such a flat way, but then I began to reflect on Swann himself, and understood (or at least imagined I did) that it couldn’t end in any other manner than it did. I’m very excited to complete Swann’s Way and begin the next work to see how Proust ties it all together.

I’m still inundated with a fair amount of words whose meanings I cannot place and a fair amount of words I had never even seen before. It truly is a grand pleasure. I still find the Proustian syntax a bit queer (although I’m wondering if that was imposed by the translators). As the text really doesn’t have a flow to it. It often stifles itself and at times is quite choppy. It might simply be his style, that raw stream-of-consciousness, but even having read as much of it as I have. I’m still not used to it, but perhaps that’s a good thing (recalling some thoughts drawn from the Russian Formalist camp).

The text, as a whole, is supremely engrossing, and to sum it up in a single word, I’d say whirlwind would suffice. A truly monumental feat (and I’m saying that having simply read almost all of Volume 1, Book 1).

Other thoughts:

I wonder how Proust related to ‘normal’ folks.

I love the concept of ‘kept.’