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In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 4: Sodom and Gomorrah: Sodom and Gomorrah v. 4 (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 5 Dec 1996

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; New Ed edition (5 Dec. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099362511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099362517
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A giant miniature, full of images, of superimposed gardens, of games conducted between space and time" (Jean Cocteau)

"One of the cornerstones of the Western literary canon" (The Times)

"Proust isn't just the most profound of novelists, but the most entertaining, too" (Independent)

"The way he replicates the workings of the mind changed the art of novel-writing forever...his style is extraordinary, enveloping, captivating" (Guardian)

Book Description

The definitive translation of the greatest French novel of the twentieth century

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Phil O'Sofa on 14 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
If you have made it this far through 'In Search of Lost Time', Proust's rambling novel about wealthy Parisian society at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, then you will most likely already know if you are planning on reading the whole novel, which is often described as one of the greatest novels ever written.

But if you are new to Proust then it is essential that you begin with 'Swann's Way' not this volume, which was never intended to be a stand-alone novel. You really must read the original seven volumes, now sometimes rearranged into six, as one long book, and if you find Swann's Way hard going there's really no point in ploughing on, as it doesn't get any more 'exciting'. This isn't meant as a criticism however, just as a warning to anyone looking for a bit of light reading.

When you start reading Proust you embark on a long, slow but potentially very rewarding journey, full of superb writing and incredibly sensitive and humorous insights into human nature. There are several different translations of the work, each with its own merits. I won't go into those now, but I will stress that if you choose to read each volume separately you really must keep to the correct order, which is as follows: Swann's Way; Within a Budding Grove; The Guermantes Way; Sodom and Gomorrah; The Captive; The Fugitive; Time Regained.

It's definitely a journey worth making, if you can find the time.
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Format: Audio Download
Whether or not you ever get around to reading Proust's brilliant, rambling masterpiece, you should listen to this landmark dramatisation. Produced in 2005 for broadcast on the BBC, it received astonishing plaudits from the UK's top reviewers for its ingenious and witty script (Michael Butt), its marvellous cast and its high production values. As a piece of audio drama in remains at the top of its class, and in six hours it delivers a necessarily trimmed down but always loyal and compelling version of the seven classic books.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Mangion on 11 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Arrived in immaculate condition, thank you very much!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 19 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The fourth part of Proust's In Search of Lost Time 9 May 2000
By Jerry Clyde Phillips - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Four years ago, I decided that I would begin reading Proust'sIn Search of Lost Time; however, the idea of reading straight throughall seven parts of the novel was somewhat daunting and I decided toread one part per year. Of course this plan had its drawbacks. How would I keep all Proust's characters straight? How could I recall after a year's passage all the details that the author so painstakingly included in his work? After finishing the fourth part, I am amazed to discover that not only were characters, which were introduced to me three years ago, recalled with ease, but the narrator's intense musings were as equally accessible. Proust's ability to paint indelible images and ideas onto the memory of his readers is probably his greatest talent.
The fourth part of the novel follows the narrator as he returns to Balbec for the second time and is introduced into the world of homosexual activity (which Proust refers to as "inversion") and the affected salons of provencial France. In this volume, The Baron Charlus assumes a major role in the novel and Marcel realizes that his jealousy of his lover, Albertine, is reflective of the jealousy of Swann for Odette (it might sound like a soap opera, but it is definitely not). Whether Sodom and Gomorrah is better or worse than the earlier parts of the novel is not important as a recommendation or criticism; it makes up an integral part of the whole and cannot exist without the other parts. Proust is not easy reading and demands the undivided attention of the reader; as I am becoming aware, the effort put into reading the novel is eminently rewarding. So pour yourself a little Pernod and begin an undertaking that you will never forget.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"Obscure Deities," or the Dark Side of Love 28 Dec. 2003
By James Paris - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In the previous volume of Proust's IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, Marcel was poised at the pinnacle of social success as he readied himself to attend the Princesse de Guermantes' party. Those alabaster gates that from a distance appeared to be the entry to paradise actually opened only onto a continuing pageant of human folly. Early in the book, a chance peek out the window shows the elegant Baron de Charlus to be a pervert as he romances the servile Jupien.
Even his beloved Duchesse de Guermantes "allowed the azure light of her eyes to float in front of her, but vaguely, so as to avoid the people with whom she did not wish to enter into relations, whose presence she discerned from time to time like a menacing reef in the distance."
Marcel retreats from the social whirl and returns to Balbec, the scene of WITHIN A BUDDING GROVE. There he takes up again with Albertine and, after hobnobbing with the Guermantes, now joins Mme Verdurin's "little band" of opinionated second-raters. This was the same salon at which Swann had met Odette in SWANN'S WAY. You may recall that Swann discovered that Odette was multiply unfaithful to him, yet married her anyway.
In SODOM AND GOMORRAH, it is Marcel who is drawn ever closer to Albertine. As the book draws to a close, he discovers from a chance remark that Albertine claims close friendship with two lesbians one of whose trysts Marcel had witnessed years before in Combray. Just as Swann had agonized just before deciding to wed Odette, Marcel sees the death of his hopes and of any chance for joy in his young life.
"As by an electric current that gives us a shock, I have been shaken by my loves. I have lived them. I have felt them: never have I succeeded in seeing or thinking them. Indeed I am inclined to believe that in these relationships ..., beneath the outward appearance of the woman, it is to these invisible forces with which she is incidentally accompanied that we address ourselves as to obscure deities."
During this, my second reading of IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, I continue to marvel at Proust's mastery. The scene of a social gathering that occupies two hundred pages, and takes me two or three days to read, seems to pass by in the blinking of an eye.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
a splendid translation and my favorite volume thus far 11 Jun. 2005
By fastreader - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I am writing here of the "Penguin Proust" translation by John Sturrock. (Much of what appears on this page is misleading, with the editorial matter referring to an audiobook and many reader reviews to an earlier translation. Even first-sentence quote is not from Sturrock's translation!)

Of the four Penguin Proust volumes I've read so far, this is my favorite--a wonderfully funny study of society (if not of sex). Proust specializes in transformations. We'll be introduced to a character and led to believe that we know everything of importance about him, only to have him turn up in a later volume as entirely different. In this volume, the remote and terrible Baron de Charlus is tranformed a pathetic tubby, besotted by the pianist Morel (himself a bit of a transformation, since he first appeared in the novel as the son of a valet).

Marcel (the narrator) meanwhile finds himself more deeply involved with Albertine, herself probably a stand-in for a male secretary of Proust's, Alfred Agostinelli. To complicate matters, I see elements of this relationship not only in the Marcel-Albertine affair, but also in the Charlus-Morel romance. It's as if Proust divided his experience into two parts, giving the romantic elements to Marcel and the comic part to Charlus.

The two romances come together at the seaside salon of the awful Madame Verdurin, who is inexorably rising in the world. In one of Proust's hundred-page setpieces, the aristocratic baron has his first clash with the social-climbing Verdurins. I found myself cheering for Charlus, whom I'd earlier learned to dislike, because he is so genuine and she is such a fraud. And I know in my heart (and through my earlier readings of this great novel) that things are not going to turn out well for Charlus. Against all logic, Proust in one of his hundred-page dissections of French society is able to keep me on tenterhooks.

The less said about Albertine, the better. I am not one of those who find her/him a convincing character. So it is with a bit of apprehension that I now turn to volume five of the Proust Penguin, containing the two books of the "Albertine cycle."

But back to Sodom (as it were): this is a wonderful translation of a riveting story. If you stick with "In Search of Lost Time" thus far, you will know that you are in the middle of one of the great experiences of your life.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Proust's Human Comedy 15 Jun. 2002
By Wordsworth - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Some have accused Proust of being "long-winded." However, he suffered acutely from shortness of breath but not shortness of breadth. Proust preferred to work on a large canvas. Having read the first four volumes of "In Search of Lost Time," I am even more convinced that Proust is a literary talent of the highest order. He is a writer of immense sensibility in the true sense of the word. His perception and memory and intelligence permeate his writing. Like Balzac, whom he admired, Proust focused his sensibility upon high society in Paris in his heyday. He continually discoursed about the the manners of the circles in which he moved and sheds light, as did Balzac, on the complexities of the strata and protocol and behavior of his social peers. One is able to get a close look at this realm in which he was considered a literary luminary and rightly so, after winning France's greatest literary prize at such an early age. Like Balzac he built his volumes in a "serial" fashion by ending each in dramatic fashion: the characters reappear from volume to volume. And one learns about their health, their misfortunes, their affairs often through the hearsay of other characters, as it happens in real life. Despite the despicable ways that the characters often treat each other, Proust speaks within the tapestry of the "human comedy" as the humble voice of reason. "When you reach my age you will see that society is a paltry thing, and you will be sorry that you put so much importance to these trifles," a judge observes. But for Proust society was his life and his legacy is partly at least the light that he sheds upon his own human comedy. The beauty of the language is breathtaking --the language is utterly lyrical and once one surrenders to the pulse and flow of his long sentence syntax, one finds the transforming genius of his art. I am eager to begin Volume 5 -- the man is a bonafide genius. He deals with sensitive subjects in good taste and with sage discretion -- Proust communicates with his readers as he probably did in society: honestly, articulately and with the best of all manners. He didn't live long enough to read the publication of half the volumes of his greatest masterpiece: Volume 4 was the last he lived to see published. What an absolute pity!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Men are from Sodom, women are from Gomorrah 22 Oct. 2004
By A.J. - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Sodom and Gomorrah," the fourth volume of Proust's masterwork "In Search of Lost Time," contains two very long set pieces that strike me as amazing achievements in the entire canon of literature. The first is an evening party at the mansion of the Prince and Princess de Guermantes attended by Proust's young narrator despite his doubt about having been properly invited, and the second is a dinner at the seaside clifftop house of the Verdurins filled with absurd but fascinating conversation. These episodes combined cover hundreds of pages of narration yet never give the impression of being stretched because Proust evokes the natural importance in every detail and human gesture, as though the course of the world depended on every little thing that transpires.

These details unify under the banner of the entire novel into a series of fictionalized memories of Proust's social life as a young man making his way through Parisian aristocratic circles and observing the events which develop his artistic conscience. These memories tend to be romanticized visions of the past, wistful dreams of what he might have really wanted his life to be: "We dream much of paradise, or rather of a number of successive paradises, but each of them is, long before we die, a paradise lost, in which we should feel ourselves lost too."

The title of the volume implies love between men and women, and men and men, and women and women. Here, the young Marcel chronicles the torrid romances of the Baron de Charlus, brother of the Duke de Guermantes, whose salon was the focal arena of the previous volume. Upon his spying--innocently, not judgmentally--on de Charlus and Jupien the tailor in an act of sodomy, he expounds on the societal attitudes confronting male homosexuality and on the ways de Charlus must go about procuring younger men for himself, such as he does with a conceited young violinist named Morel.

Meanwhile, Marcel's love affair with Albertine, the pretty girl whom he met at the seaside resort of Balbec in Volume II, is progressing slowly but not smoothly. He notices that she, as Odette used to do with Charles Swann, is beginning to play games with his propensity for jealousy, flirting first with a girl named Andree and then with Marcel's friend, the soldier Saint-Loup. As the volume wraps up, Marcel resolves to marry her, hoping to draw her away from her Sapphic inclinations.

Proust portrays a wide range of colorful supporting characters, who I have no doubt are based on people he knew in real life. While staying at Balbec, Marcel meets an eccentric family named Cambremer whom the lift-boy at the hotel mistakenly but amusingly calls Camembert and whose acquaintance provides a springboard for the dinner at the Verdurin estate. Here we experience the personalities of the physician Cottard, whose preoccupation with his Verdurin invitations affects his professional ethics; the shy, socially graceless Saniette, who is continuously bullied by Verdurin; and a pedantic bore named Brichot, who talks almost exclusively about the etymology of place names.

The motifs recurring in this volume include the society-enveloping controversy over the Dreyfus affair, the snobbery involved in invitations to certain salons, and Marcel's association with the aging and ill Swann and his wife Odette, who now have some hard-earned esteem in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. In his deeply contemplative approach to narration, Proust functions as an essayist as much as he does a novelist, but his genius is that he merges both forms seamlessly. His sentences, at least as translated into English by Moncrieff and Kilmartin, are consistently worthy of applause and inspire me to write with more sensitivity to my surroundings.
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