14) [In Search of Lost Time #2] In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, by Marcel Proust
Having had my enthusiasm engaged by the first volume in Proust’s classic series, I started reading the second with some enthusiasm. (A shout out here to Odette, reading Proust in Foxborough, who commented on my last entry.)
I have to say that I found vol 2 a bit more slow-moving, alternating passages of eye-glazing introspection with some really profound and expressive descriptions of what love is like, and how we react to art and to artists (be they actors, writers, or painters). But a welcome surprise was that there is an actual plot, with the narrator’s rebuff of Gilberte near the start vaguely reflected in his relationship with Albertine, and with her other young friends, at the end.
I found myself very irritated by the publisher’s notes. (I’m reading the new-ish Penguin edition.) First of all, I hate end-notes rather than foot-notes as a general matter of principle. Second, while I don’t mind explanations of obscure references to contemporary or older French literature, I thought the editors went overboard in drawing attention to Proust’s minor plot inconsistencies. (Though I did wonder why these were never corrected by any of Proust’s French editors.)
I’m already realising that this is a set of books that I will have to re-read in perhaps five or ten years’ time.
Top UnSuggestion for this book: Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey