How do I get into this? Are there any pre-reqs or must reads before diving in? Im ready to tackle this thing but I wanna make sure I get the absolute most out of it. Also would mind finding a nice hardcover box set for under $50, but I suppose /lit/ can't help me with that.
i personally have these, I haven't read them yet, but my mother has, she was addicted almost instantly, so she bought the full set. I would imagine you'll have to do a bit of research, but I think you'll do okay.
Proust devotee here
This tBh. You can just jump in. The first time, I read each book twice before moving to the next one. You're not liable to fully understand what's happening on your first go, and if you lose a thread, you won't be able to pick it up again very easily (you cant figure out who's talking by flipping back a few pages; try a few hundred pages)
There are not that many translations out there, understandably; Montcrieff's isn't the most readable, but it is the most true to the original. I always like Modern Library; the spines make a picture when all lined up though, which is yuck
books 4 through 6 are boring in terms of plot, but in for a penny in for a pound, i'd say. If you really want to read ISOLT but not all of ISOLT, just read like, 2 page, then put it away
and then jump out a window
I always find hardcovers difficult to manipulate physically, which means I can only read them in a limited number of positions in a limited number of places; with a book this big, you want softcovers. Many would disagree though
good luck OP, you're in for a painfully long-winded good time
The key is to be in the early stages of a relationship with a girl you're jealous of, so you can correctly read yourself into Swann's misery. The rest just kind of happens automatically.
The modern library is great. It has a wonderful synopsis at the back for ferreting out lost narrative strands. The text is nice and big. The paperback editions stay open on the table nicely. I switched to the ML edition from the pure Montcrieff edition for vol. III, and the readability improvement of the updated translation seemed pretty immediate. Then again, maybe I'd just gotten used to reading Proustcrieff by then.
Walter Benjamin's essay the Image of Proust is a really great companion. I read it before I read Proust. Maybe someone will say this is unwise—I can't know myself, as I can't unread it. For me, though, it really provided a nice framework and encapsulated the philosophical aspects of Proust in a kind of well-turned mystical little nugget. Benjamin's Baudelaire essay is useful, as well, though it contains a more obvious Proust spoiler (ironically enough). Frankly, though, you'll likely forget the giveaways that appear in either essay by the time they become relevant to the novel itself.
>That feel when someone writes an introduction or a critique and gives away plot points.
Agreed. Sodome & Gomorrhe is a really fun read, the narrator grows sharper and sharper in his observations and remarks on society, while La Prisonnière is like a tense and claustrophobic drama. Can't wait to read AD and the last one.
I didn't read it translated
or rather, not initially
Those three books are in content very similar to other novels. Proust's unique-ness is far less pronounced. In a very boiled-down sense, those books function as build up to Time Regained. They're still excellent and one shouldn't skip them. I'm just acknowledging that they're the most skip-able
I don't think you should skip La Prisonnière if you want to grasp Proust's ideas of jealousy (and love). Of course you could say that it's merely a reenactment of Swann's Way, but this repetition is the fundamental structure of the novel (repetition-difference, see Deleuze's Proust) or even the simple fact that the narrator doesn't understand most signs until he goes through them, until he falls himself in love with Albertine. I really can't imagine La Recherche without La Prisonnière, of all the books.
you're right but remember you have to have a pretty hardcore interest in it in order to read all of it even once. If you reduce it to only the most important, overarching aspects (the modernist prose and proust's treatment of memory) then all the books except the first and last are basically just means to an end.
Again, though, if you really want to comitt to it I agree that you have to comitt to all of it
I tried and failed to get into it some years ago, I am reading the Lydia Davis translation now and I like it. The downside is she probably wont be done with all 7 in anyone's lifetime.