Remembrance of Things Past: Swann’s Way

While immersed in the text, I realized that reading Proust turns one into a snob. There I was, shielding the sun from my eyes with Proust at the beach. Or here I stood, reading Proust while waiting to join a friend at an art opening. Or glance at the table beside my reading chair, where Proust was hidden under Ulysses, a dictionary, a volume of Shakespeare. One day when I was being particularly pretentious, a friend of mine asked me if I was reading Proust. Ouch.
As for the work itself, Swann’s Way is gorgeous. I made futile attempts to read this without a pen in my hand, nearly every page holding a glittering triumph of phrasing. Swann in Love is by far my most marked-up section.
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Overture:
Proust explores early memories around waking up and going to sleep in bedrooms of his past. The tragedy of having to go to bed without a kiss or visit from his mother. The ruse of sending a note down to fetch his mother, her refusal, his waylaying her on the stairs when she is headed for bed, his father’s arbitrary decision to allow her to sleep the night with Proust, the bittersweetness of this moment, knowing it is a once in a lifetime offer. The taste of a madeline dipped in tea immediately transporting him back to his aunt’s bedroom in Combray.
Combray:
The family migrated to Combray each year around Easter and stayed for the summer. Aunt Leonie muttering to herself “must remember I haven’t slept a wink” as her claim to fame, lying in her sickbed, gossiping with her maid, Françoise, or the visitor E? whom she pitted against Françoise and vice versa. Méséglise way (or Swann’s way) vs. Guermantes way
Swann in Love:
* The Verdurin group: insular community who loathed “bores”
* Falling in love with a snippet of music
* Falling in love with Odette
* Geting cut from the Verdurins: Swann has become a “bore”. His rant upon dimissal, “I inhabit a plane so infinitely far above the sewers in which these filthy vermin sprawl and crawl and bawl their cheap obscentities, that I cannot possibly be spattered by the witticisms of a Verdurin!”
* Falling out of love with Odette, jealousy, then waning. Lots of rich material on the debilitating effects of jealousy.
Place-Names: The Name
The narrator is banished to play on the Champs-Élysées, but discovers solace in the company of Gilbertte Swann, with whom he falls in love. Not a particularly moving chapter of the book. He is under the watchful eye of Françoise, old family servant inherited from his aunt.