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Lost Time Thursday: Fixed to the Ground

Moreover, I forgot almost immediately these last weeks of our stay. What I saw almost invariably in my minds eye when I thought of Balbec were the hours which, every morning during the fine weather, since I was due to go out in the afternoon with Albertine and her friends, my grandmother, following the doctor's orders, insisted on my spending lying down with the room darkened [. . .] I went back to bed; obliged to taste without moving, in imagination only, and all at once, the pleasures of games, bathing, walks which the morning prompted, joy made my heart beat thunderingly like a machine set going at full speed but fixed to the ground, which can spend its energy only by turning over on itself.

I didn't forget about In Search of Lost Time! I finished Within a Budding Grove on Monday.

Recently, I had the chance to talk to two different people about Lost Time -- one who said, "UGH, Proust, I couldn't stick with it, I had to give up after the twentieth time it was just a lot of bourgie French people walking back and forth," (approximately Page 8 of vol. 1) and one who claimed it was the best thing ever, not the best novel in French or the best fruit of the invention of language, but the best thing, full stop. My own feelings are somewhere in between.

Within a Budding Grove was not quite the rapture that Swann's Way was, maybe because some of the novelty has worn off the sentence structure, maybe because Little M. is a little older – here there is less hyper-sensory free-association and more posturing by glib young intellectuals and musing about the essential nature of girls and other categories of people – maybe just because I've been more distracted. I still have high hopes for The Guermantes Way, which Best Thing Ever Guy reluctantly (but not really reluctantly) ranked as his favorite volume of the six.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 26th, 2016 05:09 pm (UTC)
May. 27th, 2016 01:17 am (UTC)
Does Little M. ever get to go have fun with the other kids? Every time we see him he always seems to be sitting at home, thinking rapturously of all the fun he could be having if only he was allowed outside. The horses' hooves trampling over his heart! and all that.
May. 27th, 2016 02:10 am (UTC)
Don't worry! This passage is actually pretty unrepresentative, because Little M. spends a very large part of the book hanging out with Albertine and her friends, and a lot of it is quite good. I had a hard time picking out anything to quote, because the scenes tend to be long and cumulative. But he does spend his afternoons in the sunshine, despite the doctor's orders confining him to the dark room in the mornings.

Having said that, I thought the best writing, the parts where I felt as strongly as I did about most of Swann's Way, were the moments when he describes being isolated, either suddenly by memory or confusion, or consistently by illness/"doctor's orders". The outdoor stuff is good, but mostly not as striking for whatever reason (clearly my preferences and Little M's are at odds) (not that I want him to be stuck in that hotel room with his heart pounding. . . does the doctor really know best??)

I'll come back and post some outdoor M. next week before I move on; it's only fair!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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