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Like the Bolton Choral Society's attempt to summarise Proust's In Search of Lost Time as a five-part madrigal, you'd think Stephane Heuet's attempt to recast Proust's epic novel as a cartoon strip could only result, at best, in a heroic failure. In fact, in its own terms, I think it's a triumphant success.

What's missing, of course, is the slow-burning, spellbinding seductiveness of Proust's meandering, meditative prose style - although Heuet's adaptatation does in places quote from the original at some length. What's completely new as a reading experience, equally obviously, is the visual impact of the very beautiful and ingenious illustrations, which will give even the seasoned Proustian hours of pleasure, and which bring the more visual elements of Proust's text vividly to life. Heuet is not afraid to play with the format of his layout, and some of the book's real triumphs are when he allows his illustrations to burst out of the standard grid and into 'widescreen' mode, as it were. More than once I quietly gasped with pleasure on turning the page to discover breathtakingly good and impactful pictures of (for example) Swann and Odette in Swann's library, Combray in spring from the banks of the Vivonne, or the magic lantern shows Marcel enjoyed in his early childhood.

What's also a novelty is the sheer pace at which the reader can romp through the plotline, which is never really an option with Proust's original. Even though, by necessity, 95% of the detail is glossed over, Heuet's adaptation nevertheless succeeds rather well in conveying the full sweep of Swann's grand amour with Odette, for example, in under an hour of reading time - no mean achievement. So it's almost like having a microwave version of Proust: no substitute for the slow-cooked haute cuisine of the original, but still a very tasty ready-meal when you fancy a Proustian snack. And, best of all, it's a book that will almost certainly whet your appetite for a bite of the real thing.

The book itself has been lovingly printed on durable, high-quality paper, and is a real objet de vertu that would make a lovely gift for the hardcore Proustian as well as the newly Proust-curious. Warmly recommended.
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on 14 August 2009
If you have made it this far through 'In Search of Lost Time', Proust's rambling novel about wealthy Parisian society at the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, then you will most likely already know if you are planning on reading the whole novel, which is often described as one of the greatest novels ever written.

But if you are new to Proust then it is essential that you begin with 'Swann's Way' not this volume, which was never intended to be a stand-alone novel. You really must read the original seven volumes, now sometimes rearranged into six, as one long book, and if you find Swann's Way hard going there's really no point in ploughing on, as it doesn't get any more 'exciting'. This isn't meant as a criticism however, just as a warning to anyone looking for a bit of light reading.

When you start reading Proust you embark on a long, slow but potentially very rewarding journey, full of superb writing and incredibly sensitive and humorous insights into human nature. There are several different translations of the work, each with its own merits. I won't go into those now, but I will stress that if you choose to read each volume separately you really must keep to the correct order, which is as follows: Swann's Way; Within a Budding Grove; The Guermantes Way; Sodom and Gomorrah; The Captive; The Fugitive; Time Regained.

It's definitely a journey worth making, if you can find the time.
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his is volume four of Marcel Proust’s, “In Search of Lost Time.” I assume that, if you have made it this far, that you intend to read to the end – however, if you are thinking of starting this and have not read the earlier books, then do please begin at volume one. This is not a literary experience to be rushed and you need to read these volumes in order.

The first volume concentrates largely on childhood memories, while volume two and three looks at society and status. Here, though, the narrator turns his attention to more daring and explicit themes; including forbidden and jealous love. In fact, jealousy is a theme which runs through this whole series; from Swann and Odette to his obsessive desire for Gilberte. Now we have his infatuation with Albertine and also the viewed lives of other characters; dissected with sharp clarity and laid bare. Indeed, the book begins with the narrator witnessing a hurried encounter between Jupien and Baron de Charlus in his courtyard and Charlus prowls through the pages of this book as we encounter him again and again. As for our narrator, there are late night, frantic desires to see Albertine, desires for her friend, Andree and sudden wishes to be free of the restraints of his feelings, while almost clinging to the distress he causes himself.

Again, there are musings on the narrator’s beloved grandmother, his relationship with his mother and with those around him. There is also the return of the Verdurins and their clique, which the narrator becomes involved in. He spends time at Balbec, before returning to Paris at the end of this volume. However, it not so much what happens, but how Proust writes about it which is what makes these works so powerful. His writing is lyrical, beautiful and, despite the passing of time, all too understandable. We have all experienced these feelings of jealousy, desire and these aspects of human nature and behaviour and, through understanding them, sympathise with the people who come alive within these pages. I am glad I finally got around to reading, “In Search of Lost Time,” and look forward to reading on.
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Sodom & Gomorrah brings Proust's narrator back to Balbec, haunted by the shade of his grandmother and with a new consciousness of homosexuality in his midst (of both the gay and lesbian kind). He is much disturbed by lesbianism, especially as he imagines it to threaten his relationship with Albertine. Expect more from the Verdurins, the Baron, the Guermantes, etc.

I feel that the prose gets considerably easier after Volume One, but it may be due simply to acclimatization. For all the wading through what can be pages and pages of punishing dialogue, it's well worth it when the volume is stuffed with witticisms, aphorisms and often painful and bitter truths about human relationships and exchanges. What is remarkably entertaining is how subjective and potentially unreliable the narrator is, so that you find yourself exclaiming, "Oh come now, Marcel. Really?".

It can be difficult to keep track of so many characters, but the story is presented as an act of recollection, so even if you are momentarily stumped you only ever know what the narrator can recall at that moment. This gives further reason to doubt. In the previous volume I was irritated by a reference to a duel we weren't permitted to live through as a dramatic event; in Sodom & Gomorrah the narrator (I think) claims to sleep with all of Albertine's chums, etc. Given his tendencies to mind games and procrastination, one might well choose to preserve one's independence...

Almost as satisfying as Within A Budding Grove (Vol.2). A most stimulating read.
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on 15 November 2014
Whether or not you ever get around to reading Proust's brilliant, rambling masterpiece, you should listen to this landmark dramatisation. Produced in 2005 for broadcast on the BBC, it received astonishing plaudits from the UK's top reviewers for its ingenious and witty script (Michael Butt), its marvellous cast and its high production values. As a piece of audio drama in remains at the top of its class, and in six hours it delivers a necessarily trimmed down but always loyal and compelling version of the seven classic books.
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on 17 June 2015
There are three qualities to comment upon: the complete novel, the translation, and the kindle specifics. I'm going to post this review for all six volumes of the Prendergast series. If you've read it elsewhere, I apologise.

I'd guess that my most helpful remarks will be about the kindle implementation. I'll cover all six books of this Prendergast edition. There is nothing in the general formatting to deter purchase of the kindle version. The complete novel is so large and there are so many characters that X-Ray would have been good. This series doesn't have it. But each volume does have a synopsis at the end which lists the elements of the narrative (for example “Swann's first meeting with Odette”; “Odette's vulgarity”), together with the page number. At the time of writing (June 2015), the usefulness of this feature varies from volume to volume. Its value is greatest in “In the shadow of young girls”, “The Guermantes Way”, and “The Prisoner and the Fugitive”. In all three the page number is a link, enabling one to jump directly to the page referenced. If, like me, you want to re-read passages, this feature is excellent. In “The Way by Swann's” and “Finding time again” the page numbers don't link directly to the referenced passages: you have to Go To the page number. Finally “Sodom and Gomorrah” doesn't contain page numbers, so those quoted in the Synopsis are almost useless. I assume that this is a production error, and I've informed Amazon. I've read that the Kilmartin/Enright edition has an index of place names and proper names and a thematic index, but I've no idea how well these are implemented on the kindle.

I enjoyed the novel, but it has its weaknesses: the long sentences are quite often hard to comprehend without re-reading, and some passages are over-long. So I wouldn't expect everyone to enjoy it. You just have to try it.

I opted to spend about £30 on the Predergast series, after starting the free (for kindle) Scott Moncrieff edition. I could have lived with the Scott Moncrieff but I just preferred a more modern text. I'm not able to compare the Prendergast series translations with Kilmartin and Enright's. Occasionally I wanted to compare the translation with Proust's French. This was hampered by the Prendergast series being based on the 1987 Pléiade edition, which is not in the public domain and so too expensive for me. There's an informative “General Editor's Preface” at the beginning of “The Way by Swann's”. I'd expect it would be included within the free sample available for kindle.
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on 27 March 2016
Excellent series
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on 6 July 2016
A great introduction to Proust for those who can't face the challenge of the volumes of densely written prose. I hope that their will be a sequel covering the subsequent volumes.
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on 30 May 2016
It was a birthday gift and received the accolade Brilliant from the recipient! Arrived promptly and in good time for the birthday date. Great stuff :)
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on 20 May 2016
A graphic novel telling Marcel Proust's story. Excellent idea!
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