Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust
Download Swann’s Way ebook. In Search of Lost Time (French: À la recherche du temps perdu) – previously also translated as Remembrance of Things Past – is a novel in seven volumes, written by Marcel Proust (1871–1922). It is considered to be his most prominent work, known both for its length and its theme of involuntary memory, the most famous example being the “episode of the madeleine” which occurs early in the first volume. It gained fame in English in translations by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin as Remembrance of Things Past, but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, has gained usage since D. J. Enright adopted it for his revised translation published in 1992.
In Search of Lost Time follows the narrator’s recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood during late 19th century to early 20th century aristocratic France, while reflecting on the loss of time and lack of meaning to the world. The novel began to take shape in 1909. Proust continued to work on it until his final illness in the autumn of 1922 forced him to break off. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages, as they existed only in draft form at the death of the author; the publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.
The work was published in France between 1913 and 1927. Proust paid for the publication of the first volume (by the Grasset publishing house) after it had been turned down by leading editors who had been offered the manuscript in longhand. Many of its ideas, motifs and scenes are foreshadowed in Proust’s unfinished novel, Jean Santeuil (1896–99), though the perspective and treatment there are different, and in his unfinished hybrid of philosophical essay and story, Contre Sainte-Beuve (1908–09).
The novel had great influence on twentieth-century literature; some writers have sought to emulate it, others to parody it. In the centenary year of the novel’s first volume, Edmund White pronounced À la recherche du temps perdu “the most respected novel of the twentieth century.”
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Marcel Proust (1871–1922) was born in Auteuil, France. In his twenties, following a year in the army, he became a conspicuous society figure, frequenting the most fashionable Paris salons of the day. After 1899, however, his chronic asthma, the death of his parents, and his growing disillusionment with humanity caused him to lead an increasingly retired life. From 1907 on, he rarely emerged from a cork-lined room in his apartment on boulevard Haussmann. There he insulated himself against the distractions of city life and the effects of trees and flowers—though he loved them, they brought on his attacks of asthma. He slept by day and worked by night, writing letters and devoting himself to the completion of In Search of Lost Time.
Lydia Davis, a 2003 MacArthur Fellow, is the author of a novel, The End of the Story, and three volumes of short fiction, the latest of which is Samuel Johnson Is Indignant. She is also the translator of numerous works by Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris, Pierre Jean Jouve, and many others and was recently named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government. Her essay on close translation of Proust appeared in the April 2004 issue of the Yale Review.
Christopher Prendergast (series editor) is a professor emeritus of French literature at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King’s College.
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