Thursday, August 07, 2008

… continuing our travels with M. Proust…

I finished the “Place-Names • The Name” section: that accomplishment means I have now finished the first volume of the novel. Swann’s Way, which has long sat beside my bed at home, can be placed back on its bookshelf. I am not in a huge rush to draw the next volume from the shelf; I think I may pause. Yet I did greatly enjoy this final section: the contrast between M. Swann’s love affair in the previous section and the first blushes of love in the narrator show both the similarities of every new infatuation and the differences of habit in those of different ages. There’s a deep sweetness to this section, almost a gentle self-deprecation while not minimizing the profundity of the experience of the narrator’s love for Gilberte. The intriguing question for me, as I continue in the novel, revolves around the disparity of affection toward M. Swann from the narrator’s parents when at Combray and when in Paris: I do wonder if I’ll learn yet more about their relationship as I move into further volumes. First, though, I will need a variety of divertissements before reading more if In Search of Lost Time. I’ll end this entry by quoting the end of the volume, a lovely musing on memory and place:
“The places we have known do not belong only to the world of space on which we map them for our own convenience. They were only a thin, slice, held between the contiguous impressions that composed our life at that time; the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.” (606)

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