Dear Proust, I’d like you to meet your new readers. Most of them have heard about you for some time (there have been at least four films made of In Search of Lost Time; there has even been a film about you, and your housekeeper, and your asthma, and your cork-lined room—a film of course about the inaccessible last years of your life), and certainly they have had many opportunities to get acquainted with your great work—everyone has been told it is great—but for one reason or another they haven’t done so.
Why not? you’d like to know. Well, to begin with, your reputation as a difficult author is widespread, and many readers are daunted. For instance, you’re said to have written the longest sentence in the history of literature; there’s even a parlor game that challenges people—bright people! —to diagram it. And of course the Search itself is one of the longest novels in modern literature—long and intricate and allusive; why, there are even some critics (you know how we’re all intimidated by critics) who say it isn’t a novel at all.
What do they say it is? Oh, a cultural cosmogony, a Menippean satire, and most overwhelming of all, a sort of evangel. For you offer us the postulation that we can, in the shadow, or rather the radiance, of your own enchiridion, go and do likewise. Each reader, instructed and inspired by your own salvationist exercises, has a capacity to redeem his own past, to regain the time.
Richard Howard, ‘An Introduction to Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.’
I guess I would be one of those ‘new readers’ whom Howard was referring to, in his introduction above. Am finally starting on this Proustian journey, together with a group of readers in a readalong hosted on Instagram #InSearchOfProust , throughout this November and December.
Am only about 15 pages in, and dear M. Proust is still giving us a vivid description on the various states and sensations of sleep and wakefulness. :p
Can’t say I’m not enjoying it, though.
Any Proust fans here?
This pretty much sums up my October, which had turned out to be a month that was more trying than expected.
Here’s looking to a calmer November, filled with the likes of Proust’s tea and madeleines, hopefully!