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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original translation, possibly the best
Quite possibly the greatest novel ever. Certainly there is nothing to compare in terms of quantity and quality combined, and compared to other very long novels Proust is easy to read. His writing is so beautiful, the famously long sentences full of a glorious wit and insight, that I found this semi-fictional memoir a great pleasure to read, so much so that I have now read...
Published on 9 Jun. 2009 by Phil O'Sofa

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2.0 out of 5 stars Remembering a thin slice of time
To embark on the journey that is Proust's seven-book series takes a certain amount of commitment and, fittingly, time. I had decided from the outset that I would sample this first effort then, if I was swept away by the narrative, continue on the journey until I ran out of patience or ran out of books.

I knew little of the subject of the series. It was...
Published 3 months ago by Mr N D Willis


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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original translation, possibly the best, 9 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Remembrance of Things Past Volume One: 1 (Classics of World Literature) (Paperback)
Quite possibly the greatest novel ever. Certainly there is nothing to compare in terms of quantity and quality combined, and compared to other very long novels Proust is easy to read. His writing is so beautiful, the famously long sentences full of a glorious wit and insight, that I found this semi-fictional memoir a great pleasure to read, so much so that I have now read two different translations.

But is this the best way to approach Proust? This edition takes the original Scott Moncrieff translation, which is still considered by many to be the best, and combines what were originally seven books into two large volumes. This first volume consists of Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove and The Guermantes Way.

The title of Proust's whole work is usually translated these days as 'In search of Lost Time'. The title used for this edition, 'Remembrance of Things Past', is Moncrieff's very loose original translation of 'A la Recherche du Temps Perdu', and emphasizes the point that this is aimed at readers who specifically want the Moncrieff original version.

Unless you know your Proust and know what to expect, I would suggest buying a different edition, and start with Swann's Way as one (more manageable) volume. If you don't like it, and not everyone finds the slow pace to their liking, to say the least, there's really no point in buying more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully recorded lifetime resource, 3 Feb. 2012
By 
Thomas Cunliffe "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
I was glad to get my hands on the first part of Naxos's complete and unabridged recording of Swann's Way, Marcel Proust's epic work, Remembrance of Things Past (À la Recherche du Temps Perdu).

The reader is Neville Jason who Washington Post called "the marathon man" after his 70 hour recording of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Jason is well equipped to read this even longer work by Proust, having received the Sir John Gielgud prize for fiction while he was at RADA and having then gone on to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Old Vic Company. Indeed, while reading an earlier abridged version of Proust he did the abrigement himself and also translated the final volume (see article in Audiofile magazine).

The first volume alone, Swann's Way is over 23 hours on 17 CDs - - six more volumes are to be added to the project and will eventually run for 140 hours and will be completed in October of this year.

I have had a rather mixed relationship with Proust's great work. I've read three volumes of it so far, but as I began about fifteen years ago perhaps that's not very good going. While the book is fascinating, if it takes me a long time to get into each one and I know that by spreading it out over such a long period I lose some of the connections across each volume and have forgotten how the characters relate to each other. The books are hugely detailed (as you would expect with their huge size) and it can be a daunting task to start another one.

With this background I was wondering how I would cope with Swann's Way on an audio recording. I was pleasantly surprise to find myself totally absorbed, particularly while driving. Jason's voice is exactly right for Proust - as a professionally trained actor, his intonation and tone is perfect for the rhythmic cadences of the Scott Moncrieff translation. My own version of Proust is the newer Penguin edition which uses different translators for each volume. The translation is flatter and more colloquial, whereas Scott Moncrieff's sounds slightly more "classical" - which Neville Jason's voice suits rather well.

A perfect purchase (or gift perhaps) for a long-distance commuter or motorist or for anyone who likes to work or relax with audio-accompaniement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Literary merit wins over excitement, 18 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Swann's Way (Kindle Edition)
I recall that Paul Jennings once said "All I know about Proust is that he lived in a cork-lined study and was beautifully sad about he futility of life". Exactly so. Exciting this is not (it's more like watching paint dry on slowly growing grass), but this famous translation of Scott-Moncrieff is a serious work of art - and I assume the original was too - and it's a great work to dip into for an hour or two until the adrenalin-rush gets altogether too heady and you have to put it down in favour of something calming like watching Rambo (Rambeau??) instead.

I'm about half-way through now, and I don't think it matters that I can't remember the beginning. I doubt if I shall live long enough to read the next five volumes. But these great long sentences are so perfectly constructed and balanced that (unlike those of Henry James) you very rarely have to go back and re-read them, and I find it doesn't matter that I can't even remember their beginning, let alone how the novel began!. I just let the purple prose wash over me, and enjoy the great surge of third-party nostalgia
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2.0 out of 5 stars Remembering a thin slice of time, 17 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Swann's Way (Kindle Edition)
To embark on the journey that is Proust's seven-book series takes a certain amount of commitment and, fittingly, time. I had decided from the outset that I would sample this first effort then, if I was swept away by the narrative, continue on the journey until I ran out of patience or ran out of books.

I knew little of the subject of the series. It was recommended to me that I should try some Proust if I was keen on reading 'books of that type'. The 'type' they were referring to were contained on a list of 100 best books, which contained classics from the Mahabarata to Tristram Shandy. I'd been discussing the range of French literature - Sentimental Education, Father Goriot, Les Miserables.

Readers who have enjoyed the likes of Goriot should find Swann's Way to their liking. The writing is wonderfully detailed without becoming laboured. The book is written from the point of view of a boy, or rather a man remembering his time as a boy, and the period in which his family included Swann in their social circle. The plot is located between Paris and Swann's country retreat, although these are of little importance as they merely act as a backdrop for Swann's various social circles.

This being time where a person's contacts and behaviour would determine their standing in society, their reputation and the social engagements to which they were invited. While not as infuriatingly complex as the pomp and circumstance of Sentimental Education, the rituals of tea parties and conversation form a major strand of the book. Swann, evidently a bachelor of some means, commands everything one needs to get on in the social minefield: excellent contacts, fascinating conversation and an excellent grasp of culture. The problems begin for Swann when he falls in love with the wrong woman.

The boy narrator prevails the reader with Swann's nosedive into hopeless infatuation with Odette, who turns out to be more, and less than he first thought. The style of narration works brilliantly. It acts as a filler for the reader, with the narrator's anecdotal description acting as background information that enables the reader to see the traps Swans has fallen, or is about to fall into. The anguish relayed though the pages was akin to watching through one's fingers - Don't go into the haunted house alone, snap out of it Swann.

I found the social rituals in the book less frustrating than in books such as Father Goriot. Swann is more than aware that he is playing a game and the reader gains satisfaction knowing that he plays it well, often outstanding some of those who lay traps for him with a request for a delicate opinion - the wrong answer to which could mean being ostracised from society. It's at times a French Mapp and Lucia without the pointlessness. There is an end to Swann's patience, and it is quite a relief for both reader and Swann when he comes to his senses.

Swann's Way is a likeable enough book. It plods along at a decent pace, the characters are detailed and the actions and dialogue are more natural than that of Flaubert's or Balzac's efforts. However, I wasn't drawn into the book as much as I'd hoped. I didn't look forward to my next opportunity to read it with the relish of a story that has really grabbed the imagination.

Swann's Way was an enjoyable introduction to Proust's work, but I wasn't won over enough to embark on the rest of the series.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Volume one of the French classic, 16 Mar. 2010
By 
John Meanwood (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Remembrance of Things Past Volume One: 1 (Classics of World Literature) (Paperback)
This is an okay translation (it being the first) but it's a bit of a slog and unfortunately Mr Moncrieff does get a couple of things confused, ie. the relationship of some characters.

I would recommend instead the following volumes, as they are more modern translations (by Terence Kilmartin) and are therefore easier to read:

In Search Of Lost Time Vol 1: Swann's Way
In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 2: Within a Budding Grove
In Search Of Lost Time, Vol 3: The Guermantes Way

Also Marcel Proust's Search for Lost Time: A Reader's Guide for a general introduction to the work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glen Tochas Says Ten Years, 19 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Remembrance of Things Past Volume One: 1 (Classics of World Literature) (Paperback)
This took Proust fourteen years to write, and though very readable it's hardly a page turner. Could take as long to read as it took him to write or maybe even longer. Taking into account the number of pages, page for page it has to be good value for money.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packaging improvement needed, 20 Nov. 2012
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The Swann's Way set I was sent arrived in what may be the worst and most awkward packaging I've ever seen. For the price charged, you'd think Naxos could spring for a storage case with individual sleeves on a loose-leaf format (others of the seven volumes have this kind of storage). The disks are simply stacked on a spindle. So when you want disk 5 or 9 or 11 etc. you have to take them all off the spindle to get the one you want (the same storage concept as is used for blank CDs). Wake up, Naxos. This is so consumer-UNfriendly as to be obvious to the point of stupidity.

The excellent effort of your reader deserves a little better, and so does the convenience of your purchasers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A task, 23 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Swann's Way (Kindle Edition)
Its the first part of a monumental classic which is not an easy read and I have yet to make up my mind if I can deal with Proust's minutiae and get to then end. I have read that there may be better translations but this was free therefore I thought I'd give it a try before splashing cash on a more sympathetic rendering.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Swann's Way (Kindle Edition)
I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would, even though there were times that it drove me almost to fury or insanity. The very long sentences - that are not rambling at all, but carefully crafted with nested clauses, so that they are always going somewhere, even if it isn't clear where. The meditations on memory and how it works - so thoughtful. The insights into infuriating characters within families, and the tiny everyday cruelties that people can inflict on each other. The snobbery, oh the snobbery...which of course only makes sense in the context of both an order and the anxiety that it might be in the process of breaking down. On to the next volume!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fin de siecle, 2 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Swann's Way (Kindle Edition)
Beautifully written, expressing the fin de siecle sentiment. The long sentences and beautiful words took me to other times. I wanted to read Marcel Proust for a very long time and the book was better than I expected.
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