Saturday, March 12, 2016

On Reading Proust's In Search of Lost Time, I

I'm re-posting some casual comments I've made as part of a "Proust-read-along" that Neil Griffiths (writer and youtuber) started a couple of weeks ago. Not going to edit them much--just posting as is.

I’m less far along as you Neil and I’m reading the Moncrieff. (the cheapest kindle version for now—will prob order a book copy soon). My kindle tells me I’ve read 1% of all 7 volumes—(woohoo! -only 99% to go!)
I DID kind of fall into it (more than I fell into “Infinite Jest” for example—God knows when or if I’ll ever finish that one).  I love the beginning with the description of him falling asleep – in general I love his descriptions of how his consciousness relates to external spaces (rooms) he is in and time—the fluid movement between past present and future.  And one already senses the senses are very important to him (and very sensual).
I’m fascinated by the point of view—we are inside his head “watching” his observations about the past present future, as well as his own reactions to everything—I’m not sure what the technical term for this form of narration would be—some sort of first person narrative.
Considering how “internal” it is we also get a lot of “external” observations about French social/class relationships and also gender relationships—the oedipal relationship he has to his mother, who for me at least has only come alive as an object of HIS desire-not yet in her own right. I love the back and forth between “society novel” and more-or-less stream of consciousness. Swann’s appearance is mysterious and intriguing. (like the timid peal of the doorbell that announces him).
Gender relationships: the patriarchal household is full of strong women--the elderly female relatives come alive more than for example his father does, e.g. the grandmother who likes to walk outside even when it rains—or the grandaunt(s)? and how they interact with Swann. The servant, with whom the narrator must negotiate carefully to get the note sent to his mother.

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