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Swann's Way (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Marcel Proust , Scott Moncrieff
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 May 2000 Penguin Modern Classics
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.

Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (27 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141183233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141183237
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.1 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 739,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“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

--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From the Back Cover

'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."

--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

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For a long time I would go to bed early. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest novel ever written. Period. 23 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Proust is one of the very few authors who meets the test of time. After one has absorbed the religious eccentricities of Tolstoy and Dostoevski, they lose some of their appeal. But in Proust there is nothing of the sort. Nothing in him is childish (unless, of course, he is actually describing a child) and nothing in him is pretentious. In fact, I really cherish this novel because it is simply the longest set of true statements which I have ever read. From beginning to end. Proust was obsessed with putting down the truth as he saw it, and in language which has moved many other major authors to tears of admiration and envy.
Watch out! The first two volumes (!) really function as an overture, and in volume 3 everything changes, as the novel becomes almost Dickensian. I don't think you will ever be able to forget the Baron de Charlus, or Mme de Guermantes, or Gilberte, or Albertine, or Saint-Loup, or any of the rest of the magnificent cast of characters.
Not for everyone, but, then again, TV is for everyone, and who wants that?
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, the madeleine dipped in tea 28 Jan 1999
By A Customer
For the longest time, I was too intimidated to read Proust. Then, one day, I dived into this first volume like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool. My only regret is not having jumped in sooner.
This book is the beginning of one of the greatest novels ever written. The prose and imageries are breathtaking--not at all difficult to read if you take the time to savor each sentence. Proust, like all great writers, makes you read on his terms. But once you've surrendered to the style, what a treasure you find yourself floating in. The themes and characters are universal. It makes me wish I knew French to enjoy Proust untranslated. Swann's Way can be read as its own novel. But once you start, you would surely want to continue on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I haven't read the version of this particular publisher, but if it is the Moncrieff and Kilmartin translation then I find it rather ponderous what some of the poor reviews are about. This novel is the very definition of literary genius, I'm not sure if it matches up to my favourite novelist Dostoevski, but I did often feel unfaithful to him; while very different in style, Proust is every bit as philosophically and psychologically subtle as the great russian master; and like other writers I enjoy he seems to weave these insights sumptuosly and seemlessly into the narrative. From Bergson's theory of memory and the 'elen vital' to Shopenhauer's metaphysical pessismism as well as arts redemptive role in our endless striving to continue to live and love which can ultimately be reduced to vain suffering, to a ruthless and humourous social critique of the petit bourgeoisie, and an insight into the nature of love and jealousy, which can only be rivalled by Shakespeares Othello, plus a host of ideas and comic portrayals that are trully original and Proustian this novel is trully flawless. A great addition to the tradition of French novels exploration of sexuality on the fringe, investigating themes such as child sexuality, homosexuality etc with the boldness of Battaille or Sacher-Masoch and the psychological penetration of Freud. Now as I mentioned I have not read this particular version, but I do relate to some of the reviews, often I have come across translations that make books like War and Peace, which one requires alot of patience for rather opaque and then rediscovered the novel in a different translation which makes it infinitely more pleasurable. As for Proust himself and his narrative as well as insights, I can assure you he's not at fault. try everymans Library version, its trully a masterpiece of translation in and of itself. after you've read that you will appreciate any translation of Proust.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars i am no literary scholar and.... 2 Sep 1999
By A Customer
...and i have not even finished even the first volume of this dauntingly sprawling work known as a la recherche du temps perdu, but i know what i like and i have just fallen in love with swann's way. yes, it would be silly to deny that proust does like to go on and on quite prodigiously but what a sumptuous journey! i feel almost wicked indulging in proust - and what is his writing if not supremely self-indulgent - but i find myself continually redeemed by his carefully and extensively detailed insights which unfold and arise so naturally, almost indiscernibly, from the complex interplay of memory, sensation and emotion. as i read, often i find myself either smiling with joy or on the verge of tears, moved by the beauty with which proust reveals simple, almost mundane, truths, which are all the more profound by virtue of their mundanity. in any case, i don't think it's fair to banish so bitterly all those for whom this book is a thing of joy and pleasure to the realm of the pretentious. besides, i prefer to think of myself as voluptuous, not pretentious (sniff, sniff) here's a tip: forget profundity if you must and just revel in the gorgeous details of his recollections, his attempts to recapture the past through memory. this is not a book to rush, you must let it's luxuriant and gauzy veil envelop you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy Madness 30 April 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
Reading this book while recovering from my own "melancholy madness" and deep sorrow - or to be more accurate right in the middle of the agony of it, for its tapering off coincided with the end of the book - has been an overwhelming experience. Proust is forever someone who in spite of his unsurpassable genius, his living in a different era, a different civilization, a different social class, I will somehow feel forever to be my friend. As for Swann's melancholy madness, in a way it was much worse than mine - he loved Odette more and he suffered more - but then again he seems in a sense to have deserved it more, for he had not suffered to gain her love, only in its loss, he was somehow less innocent than I, and the actual betrayal of his love was perhaps more thoroughly reprehensible. And yet it is very strange and mysterious that the story of Swann and Odette should, in so many ways and with so many points of similarity, parallel the story of my agony which was then at its height. Proust is unsurpassed in extending our capacity to sympathize with the sufferings of others, even if those others are by and large members of the ruling class. Who is to say that their sufferings, though different, are not as great or even greater than those of the poor?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars life's too short for proust...unfortunately.
Don't get me wrong, this is a superbly written account of adolescence (albeit some time ago in France) and epitomises the mastery of Proust as a writer. Read more
Published on 26 July 2012 by Mr. R. W. Allfrey
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard work but worth it
A triple story of unrequited love, told with incredible emotional detail and brilliant evocation of each scene and moment. Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2011 by Brownbear101
5.0 out of 5 stars This Internal Dialogue of Stalled Thinking Is Irresistible
All of us have self-talk, which is quite different from the way we converse with each other or write. Read more
Published on 27 May 2004 by Donald Mitchell
2.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
This book was recommended to me at a time that I was exploring alot of French literature. Previously I had been put off by both the length of the book and the lack of subject... Read more
Published on 10 May 2004 by Ian Thumwood
5.0 out of 5 stars What more is there to say about this epic novel....
What more can be said about this epic novel that consists of more then 3000 words.This is only the first book,it will bring you into the world of Proust. Read more
Published on 3 Mar 2002 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A String of Pearls fit for a Select Few
It is a travesty that anyone could claim to find this masterpiece "boring." Proust's novel belongs in that select pantheon of books that truly deserved to be called... Read more
Published on 20 Aug 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Great Novels of the Century
I'm glad that this book has generated so much controversy, even if most of it has been the asinine comments of one or two people who are clearly incapable of expressing original... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars This book miseducates the reader's soul
How can any work be so dreary and unpoetic and at once so imprecise and unanalytical? The answer: Read Proust! Read more
Published on 5 Aug 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars An attempt at greatness, but falls short.
More trouble than it's worth. Try Joyce instead.
Published on 22 July 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Almost unbearable
I consider myself to be a lover of literature and a well read person. What is the deal with Swann's Way?
Published on 17 July 1999
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