30 March 2014
Eighty pages from the end of Marcel Proust's epic comedy. I've been using the 3 volume Penguin edition published in the 80s. Each of which runs to four figures of pages. Four, seven, ten pages a night, depending on what kind of day I've had and the degree of difficulty of the narrative at that time. Because it does become (for want of a better term) difficult. The famously extended paragraphs, clause heaped upon clause. But always supremely balanced - and never, ever, for effect, always to a purpose. I like the fact that Marcel credits us with the patience and intelligence to listen and understand. There's so much to say in praise, I hardly know what to say by way of a beginning (I'm not qualified in lit crit in any way). It's a life - and in the telling of that life, several other lives - and a mind, and a world, described and portrayed in such heightened, loving, careful and vibrant language, that, simply put, we live it, live in it, and learn from it. Philosophy, aesthetics, social satire, sex and love, the pathos of our vanities, ambitions and passions, and the utterly, magnificently, tragically transitory nature of the lot of it. And it is really, really funny. A thoroughly understated, tongue-in-cheek, wry, humane kind of funny. Like the kind of funny you share with a close friend, who knows your bones.
Googling around, I found this lovely creation.
I've lost (for now) the know-how required to post pics on here, but if you click the link you'll see thumbnail links to images from a very attractive collection of portraits of many of Proust's characters. Needless to say, I'd love to have a copy of the book. Alas, just a hundred were made.