Monday, April 16, 2007
Larry McMurtry's book of essays Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen talks a lot about Proust. McMurtry discusses his open heart surgery and how he felt like a different person afterward including feeling differently about reading (shudder), saying that right before this cognitive dissonance started he reread Proust and he was glad to have this last hurrah. In the past this novel, made up of seven volumes was known as Remembrance of Things Past, but the powers that be have decided In Search of Lost Time is a better translation. Swann's Way is the first volume, made up of two parts : Combrey, the story of the narrator's childhood and Swann in Love, the story of Swann's (a friend of the narrator's family) for Odette, a totally inappropriate woman. Combrey is amazing for Proust's ability to describe how the mind works in ways I could never articulate (the way your mind drifts before you fall asleep, or sense memory-the famous madeleine (a cookie from his childhood) , which makes you experience the past again, not just remember. Swann in Love is great for Proust's observations of love, especially unrequited love. I haven't finish Proust, I'm still bogged down in volume four, seven years after I started. But he's amazing. Once I finish I know I'm going to have to start over.