This text is the translation of the first part of the first volume of "Remembrance of Things Past". It paints a portrait of French society at the close of the 19th century, and reveals a vision of obsessive love.
“If you’ve never got round to reading this famous philosophical Frenchman, Simon Callow’s lively narration is an excellent introduction to Proust.”
Daily Mail 31/1/97
'I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body…An exquisite sensation had invaded my senses…I decided to attempt to make it reappear. I retrace my thoughts to the moment at which I drank the first spoonful of tea…And suddenly the memory returns.'
Published in 1913, 'Swann's Way' is the first of the seven parts of Marcel Proust's masterpiece, 'Remembrance of Things Past', one of the major achievements of twentieth-century literature. The narrator discovers that an involuntary memory triggered by some casual action – say, eating a madeleine cake or stooping to remove one's shoe – has the power to recover large areas of the past; and he sets out to resurrect his past life and the people and places that most affected him. 'Swann's Way', which is offered here in the celebrated translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, focuses particularly on Charles Swann and his love for Odette.
"I don't think there has ever been in the whole of literature such an example of the power of analysis."