As a dedicated Proustian for twenty happy years, I have read his long novel several times but this new book by Eric Karpeles has taken my pleasure to a new level. Although I enjoy looking at paintings, I have a very limited knowledge of art history and, as a result many of Proust's allusions and even many descriptions were wasted on me. Vermeer's `View of Delft' is such an important part of the novel that I made a point of finding a copy of the painting - but I lacked the knowledge to track-down all the other wonderful references that Proust uses. Who was the daughter of Botticelli's Zipporah that could so win Swann's heart - even though she was not his `type'? Thanks to Karpeles, I now know what she looked like and have also become aware of all the other wonderful faces that Botticelli created.
What were the paintings of Pieter de Hooche that inspired this exquisite description of Vinteuil's sonata? "He began, as always, with the sustained tremolos of the violin part which for several bars was heard alone, filling the whole foreground; until suddenly it seemed to draw aside, and - as in those interiors by Pieter de Hooch which are deepened by the narrow frame of a half opened door, in the far distance, of a different color, velvety with the radiance of some intervening light - the little phrase appeared, dancing, pastoral, interpolated, episodic, belonging to another world." I have savored that description for many years but, being unfamiliar with the painter I could only go so far in my appreciation.
Eric Karpeles has assembled every pictorial reference that Proust made in all seven volumes of the novel. He has tracked-down the reference - however obscure or arcane - and his publisher has reproduced each one, alongside the original quotation. This is a magnificent book and I am in awe of what Karpeles (a well respected painter in his own right) has achieved. I suspect that the publisher will market this as a reference book, but it is so much more than that. I sat and read it from cover to cover as a work of art in its own right.
I am proud to put my name to this review.
Patrick Alexander Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: A Reader's Guide