Title: Swann’s Way
Author: Marcel Proust
Genre: Fiction – Classics
Why it’s in my pile:
Wanting to dive more into the classics that I haven’t found popularized among high school curriculum or numerous movie adaptations, I went towards French literature. My only context for this novel is from Gilmore Girls, surprise surprise. There is a scene from Season 1 Episode 11 where Lorelai is on a date with Rory’s English teacher. She picks up Proust’s Swann’s Way and the script reveals:
‘Hm, I never read Proust, I always wanted to. Every now and then, I’m seized with an overwhelming urge to say something like “As Marcel Proust would say..” but of course I have no idea what Marcel Proust would say so I don’t even go there. I could do, uh, “As Micheal Crichton would say..” but it’s not exactly the same you know’
Or course I would like to be as close to a Gilmore Girl as possible so this will be added to my TBR pile. Additionally, I had studied French in high school as well as French culture, and it would be nice to get back some of it that I have lost.
Swann’s Way is the first novel of Marcel Proust’s seven-volume magnum opus À la rechercheé du temps perdu, or Remembrance of Things Past. Following Charles Swann’s opening ruminations about the nature of sleep is one of twentieth-century literature’s most famous and influential scenes: the eating of the madeleine soaked in a “decoction of lime-flowers,” the associative act from which the remainder of the narrative unfurls. After elaborate reminiscences about Swann’s childhood in Paris and rural Combray, Proust describes his protagonist’s exploits in nineteenth-century privileged Parisian society and his obsessive love for young socialite Odette de Crécy.
Filled with searing, insightful, and humorous criticisms of French society, this novel showcases Proust’s innovative prose style, characterized by lengthy, intricate sentences that elongate, stop, and reverse time. With narration that alternates between first and third person, Swann’s Way unconventionally introduces Proust’s recurring themes of memory, love, art, and the human experience—and for nearly a century readers have deliciously savored each moment.