My third week of Proust

by mudrhetoric

I completed Swann’s Way last week and gave myself sometime to not only digest what I just read but also to read a few other things before I begin book 2 (Within a Budding Grove). In this brief Proust respite, I read some Pope, Dryden, and Donne (none of which I really enjoyed). I did enjoy their ends, just not their means.

I was thinking how I would encapsulate the experience of completing the first book of Remembrance of Things Past(or In Search of LostTime), a slight aside, but both of those titles might be my favorite titles of all time. I still think that the word whirlwind is the term most well-suited to describing the experience. It’s very easy to get lost and Proust’s language, style, and syntax all take getting used to (I’m still not used to it, and I’ve read though the entirety of the first book). I find his style, at times, stifling and disconcerting. I’m still uncertain if that structure was imposed, after the fact, by the translators.

Proust, seemingly, wants to say everything that can be said about something. The words fly at you in a torrent, sentencesvgo on and on in a raw stream-of-consciousness. I’d be interested to see how much affect his editors had over his work (if in fact editors were employed). He seems to be writing at a fever-pitch, as if death was stalking him as he was writing.

Proust’s Swann’s Way is split into four sections. The first two sections could be likened to the slow trudge from dusk to night. They were ponderous, plodding, and indispensable. The third section, Swann in Love, is the breakof dawn, eclipsing the entirety of the day. Bright, brilliant, and unleashed, leading into the last section which hints at what is to come, basking in the anticipation of the encroaching dusk.

As a text, I would consider Swann’s Way an exegesis of love (tinged with jealously) with much unexpectedness and charm. There were many assumptions I made, trying to predict what was next, and then missing the mark completely, and being left dumbfounded and dumbstruck. An overwhelming experience leaving a distinct impression, but also teaching an important lesson about anticipation, patience, drawing it out to increase the pleasure.

I look above and see only a jumbled mess. I find it difficult to put thoughts of this kind to paper. My mind often has these blank spots, and things are left on the tip of my tongue. I don’t know if any of the above makes sense. I read it, and I only see one thing, and soon it’ll be lost to time. Will I reminisce…