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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest novel ever written. Period.
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...
Published on 23 Nov 1998

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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

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10 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves, 10 May 2004
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Swann's Way (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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 matter. Despite initial misgivings, I soon got into the idiom of the book and the first half of this tome where the narrator recounts his childhood in a sleepy, French town. This is almost as good as parts of "David Copperfield" or "Great Expectations" in the way that it depicts a child's perception of the adult world. Some of the writing is very funny and Proust's perceptive writing, particualarly when describing the walks through the countryside, is extremely beautiful. The first half of the book deservedly merits five stars and demonstrates why Proust enjoys such a great reputation.
Unfortunately, the second half of this volume concerns the unfortunate Mr. Swann and his affair with a woman who is clearly cruelly leading him on. This is nothing more than high class "Chick lit" and was probably one of the most boring and turgid things that I have ever read. (Almost as bad as T.E. Lawrence's "Seven pillars of wisdom", another book that I would never recommend and should be immediately flushed down the toilet.) It is clear to the reader from mid-way through this account that she was a courtesan and Mr. Swann should have wised up. This would have saved a few hundred pages!! Nil points for this section then.
To summarise, this is truly a book of two halves. If you want to read to well written French novel try Alain-Fournier's "Le grand Meulnes" that is a fraction of the volume, just a well written and has a multi-layered plot that will keep you wanting to turn the page. As to the other reviewer's comments that Proust is better that Shakespeare or Dickens, I would simply add that aleast they both knew how to write a plot !! Proust has a reputation as the greatest novelist of the 20th Century, but nothing in this book would lead me to rate him above Joseph Conrad, Karen Blixen or George Orwell.
Definately one for the girls - although not the type of girls that I would like to go out with !! File under "B" for boring.
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Swann's Way (Penguin Modern Classics)
Swann's Way (Penguin Modern Classics) by Marcel Proust (Paperback - 27 May 2000)
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