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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A La Recherche Du Temps Part Two
Picking up where Swann's Way left off, this is the enthralling, equisitely poetical second instalment of Proust's masterpiece. If - like me - you struggled through the first volume to adjust to the Proustian technique by which sentences can, and frequently do, occupy an entire page of script, by the time you pick up the second volume the language seems as natural and...
Published on 18 Mar 2005 by excellentsteve

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Irksome
A few years ago I read the first volume which makes up Proust's epic: 'A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu', Swann's Way. I found it incredibly hard work and extremely unrewarding. Since then I have been tempted to give this modern masterpiece another go, and have resolved to finish the rest of the volumes by the end of this year. I have just finished volume 2: Within a...
Published on 15 May 2012 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A La Recherche Du Temps Part Two, 18 Mar 2005
This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Picking up where Swann's Way left off, this is the enthralling, equisitely poetical second instalment of Proust's masterpiece. If - like me - you struggled through the first volume to adjust to the Proustian technique by which sentences can, and frequently do, occupy an entire page of script, by the time you pick up the second volume the language seems as natural and fluent as it once felt awkward and clumsy.
The Author spends the first part of the novel dealing with love and obsession in his formative years - his emotions fluttering between Gilberte and her mother, the notorious Mme Swann. Whilst the first half of Within a Budding Grove offers a delightful insight into the workings of human love and, more touchingly, the anguish from which it is unseparable in the heart of the author, the volume really comes to live when we reach Balbec.
In the latter half of the novel we are treated to Proust at his best: using the characters of Elstir, Albertine and Saint-Loup the author treats us to splendid discussions on what are, in descending order of value, his most cherished themes of art, love and friendship respectively.
In short, Swann's way was a splendid prologue to the rest of the novel which reaches new heights in this its second volume. If you were thinking about leaving it a while before attempting part two, don't - do it now.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A storyline! At last!, 7 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Firstly, congratulations to anyone who has got this far and completed the first volume of Prousts epic tale. With the hard work done, you can now enjoy the fruits of your labour - this book contains a delicate, haunting account of romance which is both imaginative and highly readable. The characters are both newly introduced, and drawn from "Swanns Way", and are believable in a way that is rarely found in literature. Motives, emotions and the "human condition" are all analysed in such unflinching detail that you find yourself associating with the narrator and sharing his frustration at his own failings. Along with occasional flashes of humour, the tight storyline moves the book along far more quickly than the first volume. A superb read that will leave you wanting more (and don't worry - there are still four volumes to go!)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, youth..., 4 Jan 2013
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
...and that rush of memories. I read the first volume of "In Search of Lost Time" which is normally titled in English, (Swann's Way) some 25 years ago. Truly great literature should impact one's life, and certainly the first volume did. I vowed to visit the town depicted, which has hyphenated its name, Illiers-Combray, in honor of this masterpiece. I've done so, at least five times, visited Aunt Leonie's home, and literally taken the "Swann's Way" walk, the relatively short distance from her home to the lovely and normally unoccupied Pré Catelan park, which should be an essential part of anyone's memory of this work. It can become a place of "pilgrimage." I reviewed (Swann's Way) in early 2012; in doing so I did a straight line project based on reading one volume of the six, every 25 years, and readily realized I would not complete the entire novel unless I changed my pace. And I did, finishing this volume just under the wire in 2012, and committing to read volume three in the first part of 2013... this novel really is such an essential read.

Reading Marcel Proust seems to call out for a special venue. I kept thinking of a hot-tub. Relaxed and soothing, certainly unhurried. His style of endless run-on sentences, with 10 and 20 qualifying phrases, seems to demand a leisurely read. I would have hated to think I had a deadline and a paper due on the book, as in a school assignment. Some passages I read two and three times, just for the sheer joy of his uniquely descriptive prose. And no doubt I'll pick up the book in the future, and read those passages again.

The novel is set in the era commonly called "La Belle Epoque," in France, just before the truly man-made, with the emphasis on that gender, catastrophe of World War I. In part, it is a novel of drawing room society and the endless machinations involved in establishing and maintaining a "pecking order." What woman, for example, will refuse to even be introduced to another? That can all be a bit tiresome, but isn't that also how the contemporary corporate and political worlds work? Part of that society is the fictional writer Bergotte, who is apparently modeled on the real-life Anatole France. And there was a wonderful section on the narrator's anticipation and thrill in seeing the actress Berma in a production of Racine's "Phedre."

The core theme of this volume is the yearnings and infatuations of first loves. For me, the utterly astonishing aspect of this is that, as is well-known, Proust was a homosexual. Yet he seemed to capture heterosexual love, and in particular, the many subtleties by which a woman can knowingly entice a man, better than any other author. And he also captures the many obsessions a man can develop for a particular aspect of a woman's body, demeanor, or even attire. How, oh how did he see and understand so deeply into something he must not have intrinsically felt? In the first part of the book, his very first love is for Gilberte, whose likeness appears on the cover. Parents and supervision are very much in evidence, and it brought back a flood of memories (a la, le madeleine?) concerning those days of long ago. Obsessions and slights were never reconciled, as they so often aren't, and therefore life moves on. In his case, the second half of the book details the narrator's summer at the Grand Hotel at Balbec (modeled on the real town of Cabourg) on the Normandy Coast. It is there that he develops new loves and new longings, with a group of young coming-of-age women, who are not so subtly alluded to by the volume's title.

For a novel that nominally does not have much action, there are some intensely memorable and evocative scenes. There is the 10-page or so description of Mme. Swan taking her "constitutional" near the Arc de Trioumph, in her mauve dress, with parasol and admirers. There is the grand entrance of Robert St. Loup en Bray, at the Grand Hotel. There is a memorable scene in which the diners at the Grand Hotel, behind the large plate windows, are described as being in an aquarium, observed by the working class outside. And I wondered if this inspired Pasternak to depict a similar scene in Doctor Zhivago [1965] [DVD]. Yet another concerned how the narrator was enticed, and then rebuffed by Albertine.

There are so many quotable sections; I will confine myself to only one, which illustrates how erotic a simple handshake can be: "The act of pressing Albertine's hand had a sensual sweetness which was in keeping somehow with the pink, almost mauve colouring of her skin. This pressure seemed to allow you to penetrate into the girl's being, to plumb the depths of her senses, like the ringing sound of her laughter, indecent in the way that the cooing of doves or certain animals cries can be. She was one of those women with whom shaking hands affords so much pleasure that one feels grateful to civilization for having made of the handclasp a lawful act between boys and girls when they meet...I could have conveyed by certain pressures of hand on hand; for her part, how easy it would have been, in responding by other pressures, to show me that she accepted; what complicity, what a vista of sensual delight stood open!" Wow, the way Proust describes a handshake with a woman, well, it might satisfy a man for an hour or so.

Proust also had the insight to realize that in his first loves, he might be in love with his mind's image of a woman, rather than the reality that she is. I felt that he also overrated nubile charms, and underrated the joys obtained from the more mature and experienced. Overall, a most satisfying read, and one that deserves a special 6-star rating.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pernickety, moi?, 18 Feb 2011
This is a minor technical complaint from someone who is greatly enjoying reading the second volume of A la recherche du Temps Perdu in English on his new Kindle. The text on Kindle is littered with typographical errors, in this case even more than were in Swann in love's Kindle version. Francoise the maid is frequently consistently to as "Franchise" to give but one example. This is offputting as it disrupts the magical flow of the prose. Can it be remedied?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps some of the greatest masterpieces were read while yawning., 28 Mar 2012
By 
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
The above is, of course, a paraphrase of Marcel's remark about great writing not necessarily coinciding with zeal.

The good news is that Volume 2 of In Search Of Lost Time is much more engaging than its predecessor, despite the similarities. Where in Vol.1 the main was taken up with M. Swann eating his heart out over the behaviour of his lover, the courtesan Odette, her loving indifference and really imagined infidelities (if one may call them that), within the budding grove it is Marcel's turn to wrack his brains over Odette's daughter, the charming young Gilberte. The narrator's visits to the Swann's residence, his admiration for Madame Swann and her daughter, these take up the first third of the volume; thereafter the novel almost morphs into travel writing, describing Marcel's vacation at Balbec with his grandmother, their new circle of acquaintance there and the fleeting possibilities of erotic encounters with other holidaymakers.

Congratulations on making it past Vol.1 because now you can savour to an even greater degree the wit, the perspicacity of this most observant of authors. The number of passages that will have you nodding with recognition, perhaps a little pained, replete with Proust's insights into human psychology, are legion; and for the rest, there are his loving evocations of sunlight, depictions of nature, paeans to elegance and charm, delineations of social rank and the manners and follies pertaining to each group at whatever level. If there is one overriding theme to this novel, so far, it appears to be regret. Perhaps regret goes with the territory.

On the debit side, there are still countless pages entirely filled by a single paragraph, few convenient places to pause, an obsessive interest in ladies' fashions which I personally find rather odd, and one can only wonder at just who, if anyone, was Proust's editor? Sometimes the same, admittedly obsessive, thoughts and ideas - such as when Marcel is cogitating how to rekindle Gilberte's affection - are repeated and become wearisome. As with Vol.1 I was reminded of a movie, this time Wonder Boys, the one where novelist Michael Douglas' magnum opus has grown out of control and his attention to detail has become a symptom of an unwilingness to make life decisions. While reading I imagined myself as Proust's first reader, manuscript in hand as he waited expectantly, crossing the room to embrace him before promptly beating him over the head with it.

I don't know if this kind of imagination really touches upon the human soul, the scenes and social encounters appearing before the eye like moving pictures on a series of exquisitely painted vases. What can't be denied is that Within A Budding Grove is frequently fascinating, funny, poignant and hugely insightful. Beautifully written even while it is interminable. This kind of writing may have inspired all that stream of consciousness tedium so beloved of the moderns - I'll have to check my dates - but even if so we must forgive Proust when there's so much more to be taken from his gargantuan book than there is in the epic obscurities and perverse navel-gazing of Joyce or Woolf.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing After Vol 1, 6 Aug 2011
This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
The second volume of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, but whereas the first was genius here the mask slips and Proust is revealed as a master essayist and observer whilst the great novel that was Volume One slips away.

There is no doubt that Proust can write, and brilliantly so, but this is the book that punctures the idea of Proust the novelist. In Book one, Swann's way, Proust constructed the perfect narrative of a three way love story wrapped around perceptions, self-deceit, half-truths and broken memory. This volume takes the same characters (or at least people with the same name) and subjects them to a series of critical essays in which Proust allows himself to disgorge his prejudices, wit, bile and tenderness. His themes are manifold - technology (the telephone and the train), drawing room conversation and convention, the place of flowers in modern life, hotel etiquette, art, the arts, government and social status - all of these attract his laser beam attention and are expertly and daintily dissected without a trace of a sneer but with all the knowing cunning of a mind that is simply superior.

In amongst these epigrams, aphorisms, maxims and reflections there is a plot of sorts as the author grows up sexually through his teenage years doting first on Gilberte and then on Albertine. We assume the writer is Proust himself, although this is never clear, and what a thoroughly ghastly fellow he is - sickly and weedy (when it suits him) so that he can manipulate his parents and grandmother, friends and doctors; sneaky and unscrupulous in maneuvering others to give him what he wants, capricious in his friendship, highly judgemental (if accurate), base in his amorous objectives, unforgiving when slighted, sly. But somehow - no doubt because of his fierce intellectual honesty and curiosity - he attracts people to him and is liked and respected. Where he comes unstuck however is in dealing with the opposite sex.

Book one saw him give up Gilberte in favour of the idea of Gilberte. Proust has to undertake some rowing back from this so that his young hero (at first about 12 or 13) can once again meet his boyhood crush, interact and mutually fall in love. But the hero's acerbic attitude to love soon causes a rift and their affair is spoiled and with it the first half of this book. Proust tries to repeat his trick from book one of matching the progress of Swann's love for his mistress - now wife - with Proust's own love for Gilberte - both relationships are nothing but cold ash. This is all fine as far as it goes but the second half of the novel has a whole set of new characters and locations and introduces us to Albertine, the new woman in the narrator's life. Paris is left behind in favour of the seaside resort of Balbec and everything you knew before is thrown away.

Every page here is worth reading and there is so much to enjoy and indeed marvel upon. But Proust has had to rework almost entirely the characters of Swann and M. Swann so that they are unrecognisable from book one. His own story with Gilberte is reawakened only to die again and his relationship with Albertine is part of a different thread to that of Swann. In Book one Proust held together his thoughts on modern life with the narrative drive of his story, but here the reader can see the joints, with Proust's various essays being stitched together by the thinnest of plots. It's wonderful, but it's not great literature.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely..., 1 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
The above/below reviewer is absolutely correct; although this is a staggeringly hard volume to finish. It is, however, well worth it: Marcel starts to come into his own as a character. But wait until you've finished vol.3 for the real delight. The Guermantes way is the real gateway into the epic and is astounding.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PRESENT, 28 April 2013
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This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Bought as a requested present for my sons growing collection of books, he's very happy as far as i'm aware
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Irksome, 15 May 2012
By 
Mrs. K. A. Wheatley "katywheatley" (Leicester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove: Within a Budding Grove Vol 2 (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
A few years ago I read the first volume which makes up Proust's epic: 'A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu', Swann's Way. I found it incredibly hard work and extremely unrewarding. Since then I have been tempted to give this modern masterpiece another go, and have resolved to finish the rest of the volumes by the end of this year. I have just finished volume 2: Within a Budding Grove. I had hoped that time and age and possibly more breadth of reading on my part since volume 1, might have made things easier.

Sadly, for me at least, this is not the case. I appreciate the beauty of Proust's descriptions of the minutiae of his protagonist's day to day life. I see that each facet of his existence is rendered like an exquisite miniature painting. And yet. And yet, his book fails absolutely, at every level to elicit the kind of reverie, awe and yearning for a past I never knew that I think it is supposed to.

Mostly it makes me want to hit things with a hammer.

The main problem, for me, is that I cannot warm to the protagonist at all. He is vacuous and self obsessed. He shows a singular lack of empathy with anyone and anything whilst purporting to feel every last nuance and particle of every experience to the depths of his soul. He is shallow and vain. He is unbelievably tedious, and although I am sure that Proust deserves some sort of prize for ekeing out about half a dozen desultory, unthrilling incidents to over 600 pages of luminous prose, it irks me beyond belief.

Still, only four more volumes to go.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so delicious!, 8 July 1997
By A Customer
the beauty of these novels is unmatched with the possible exception of thomas wolfe. come with me and dance til dawn!
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