A belated post on yesterday’s sabbath.
What was intended as a long relaxed day for reading while resting my back turned into a couple of hours reading in the morning followed by one distraction after another throughout the afternoon and evening. I took the afternoon with August and put him to bed, and that probably should have been the end of the day.
But I got up again to press on to the end of the book I was reading. I both finished the book and stayed up too late. Thus ended my eighteen consecutive days of getting at least seven hours of sleep at night.
But I was pleased when I finally lay down to have finished Swann’s Way, the first of seven novels that make up Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time. At 3300 pages, this is considered by many to be the greatest and most rewarding novel of the twentieth century, a work of art. It is certainly the longest.
I have been, so far, a typical reader of Proust. This is my third time through Swann’s Way, but this is as far as I have ever read. Thus, I have never really read Proust, something I will now correct. Equipped with period photographs, a collection of art, a soundtrack of Faure, Saint-Saens, Chopin and Beethoven, and not a few readers guides, I trust I will finish the whole novel this year.
My favorite companion so far is Eric Karpeles’ Paintings in Proust: A Visual Companion to “In Search of Lost Time.” The book presents 206 illustrations (196 in color) of painting mentioned or references by Proust in the novel. For example, I got lost for half and hour contemplating the faces of women in three painting by Botticelli (like the Primavera below) that convey expression of remorse and unrelieved sorrow that Swann found on the face of Odette once he realizes that she has been lying to him. I highly recommend the book not only for Proustians, but as a fun introduction to the novel.
It was only a painting, but sighing deeply,
he let his thoughts feed on it, and his face was wet
with a stream of tears.
Virgil, Aeneid, 1.464-65