I posted the following as a comment on a youtube video a while ago and am re-posting it here.
Quick initial thoughts on Swann in Love: I’m still at the very beginning of it and it is taking me a while to get used to it – to get into it. In week one you spoke of the “phenomenological swim” when reading Proust and I feel like in these first pages I’m too much above water—and I don’t care for it. I do think this is a “just me” moment. I tend to like books if I like/love the narrator: this is why I like/love the Great Gatsby, Jane Eyre, The Red and the Black. I identify very strongly with the narrator. And that’s what I found myself doing in “Combray”. And now in this section, because it is not so much about him, I feel like we’ve lost him. And at this early stage I’m not as invested in any of the people he is describing. Swann was more interesting to me when he was visiting the family, than he is right now as he is falling in love with Odette. But I’m still enjoying it—just not as much as I enjoyed the earlier sections. (Even if some of the descriptions did go on a bit). I have to wonder to what extent the gender/age/outlook on life? play a role in how people respond to this passage. At this stage the “element of caddishness” in Swann – his predatory nature with regards to women—the fact that he –at this point-sees them as things to conquest rather than equals makes him less, not more interesting to me. I wonder how this will all develop. Have you seen the Jeremy Irons/Ornella Mutimovie directed by Volker Schlöndorff ? (I’m not sure if it’s any good).