Naxos, the renowned producer of classical music recordings, is publishing a complete and unabridged recording of Marcel Proust s epic work, Remembrance of Things Past (À la Recherche du Temps Perdu). The reader is Neville Jason, who the 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 abridgement himself and also translated the final volume (see article in Audiofile magazine). The first volume alone, Swann's Way (amazon link here) 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 books are fascinating, 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. Of course, you have to wonder how exactly you would get through 140 hours of audio recording. It almost seems like a life s work something that would accompany you over many years as you dipped in and out of it and kept coming back to it. If I was still at the stage of my life where I was driving up and down motorways it would be ideal, but for now it s going to be an occasional treat over the next few years. What a lovely thing to own though, a rich resource for some point in the future when I have more time on my hands. --Tom Cunliffe, A Common Reader
A beautiful, atmospheric, and nostalgic work, Swann's Way is highly recommended for literary connoisseurs and public library audiobook collections. --Library Bookwatch
This is the first volume of Naxos's projected production of the entire seven volumes of Proust s great work, Remembrance of Things Past, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff. It comes 10 years after the same narrator, Neville Jason, produced an abridged version and, when approached to read the whole thing, exclaimed, 'Oh my God, it s going to take the rest of my life!' A multitude of ordinary, educated readers have muttered the same thing and moved on with their lives, though with a sense of cultural failure. Here is salvation, at least for those who commute or are otherwise chained to some mindless activity that allows for listening. Jason's rendition is mesmerizing, elegant and supple. He unwinds the long sentences gracefully and with impeccable phrasing. He shades the voices of the many speakers to match their characters, and his pronunciation of French names and places is adept. There are, of course, new, less reticent translations, but Jason's reading of this celebrated version is itself a masterpiece. - --Katheri --Gerald Fenech, Malta News Online
All seven volumes of Remembrance of Things Past, of which this is the first, represent a staggering recording feat: 150 hours of unabridged Proust read by 78-year-old Neville Jason. To Proust writing was like making jellied beef: every shred of his memory was used. Jason calls Proust's work his 'magic cord', woven to be launched into future time. For us Jason's voice is the magic cord that draws us inexorably in. --Rachel Redford, The Oldie
About the Author
Marcel Proust (1871 1922) was a French novelist, essayist, and critic, most famous for his autobiographical series of novels, In Search of Lost Time.
Tom Griffith has also translated Plato's The Republic, Symposium, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, and Phaedrus.