Read Within a Budding Grove: Part 1 by Marcel Proust Free Online
Book Title: Within a Budding Grove: Part 1|
The author of the book: Marcel Proust
Edition: Naxos Audiobooks
Date of issue: July 1st 1996
ISBN 13: 9789626340882
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 38.10 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.3
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This is a review of Autour de Mme Swann, the first part of A l’Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleurs, published separately in this Garnier-Flammarion edition.
This section of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu reminded me of the soldier who hid under the wide skirts of Oskar’s grandmother in Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum and who found pleasure there but who must have crawled out half suffocated at the end. The title itself, A l’ombre des Jeunes filles en fleurs conjures up a similar image for me: the narrator crouching in the shadow of voluminous flowery skirts, taking some pleasure but suffering too, just as I did while reading. I felt horribly suffocated by the claustrophobic atmosphere of the the narrator’s situation, so dominated was it by the convolutions of his obsession with Gilberte, and to a lesser extent with Mme Swann herself. The twists and turns of his unrequited passion felt too reminiscent of Swann’s tortured affair in Du Côté de chez Swann for me to be able to read this without groaning inwardly. I identified with Swann, and forgave his tormented reflections; I can't identify with the narrator so easily as I don't believe in the object of his desire; considering how important a role she plays, Gilberte is like a preparatory sketch rather than a fully fleshed out character.
But there were some respites from the inner torment. The beginning presented an interesting opening up of the narrator’s world via the character of the slightly ridiculous international diplomat, M Norpois and his idiosyncratic opinions on politics, theatre and literature. The narrator also meets his fetish author, M Bergotte, in this section and that encounter is both interesting and refreshing. But that breath of fresh air soon expires beneath the force of the narrator’s ongoing obsession with Gilberte.
However, in spite of my impatience with the narrator's various neuroses, I know that Proust was very interested in the phenomenon of the period of adjustment necessary before certain works of art, first judged inaccessible, later become accessible so I have to be patient and believe that even the tedious parts will eventually be seen to be important in the whole structure and that I will eventually understand the entire concept.
And in the meantime, I am cheerfully reading my way through Volume II of A l’ombre des Jeunes filles en fleurs and am revelling in the fresh sea breezes blowing around Balbec, le Pays.
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Read information about the authorFrench novelist, best known for his 3000 page masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time), a pseudo-autobiographical novel told mostly in a stream-of-consciousness style. Born in the first year of the Third Republic, the young Marcel, like his narrator, was a delicate child from a bourgeois family. He was active in Parisian high society during the 80s and 90s, welcomed in the most fashionable and exclusive salons of his day. However, his position there was also one of an outsider, due to his Jewishness and homosexuality. Towards the end of 1890s Proust began to withdraw more and more from society, and although he was never entirely reclusive, as is sometimes made out, he lapsed more completely into his lifelong tendency to sleep during the day and work at night. He was also plagued with severe asthma, which had troubled him intermittently since childhood, and a terror of his own death, especially in case it should come before his novel had been completed. The first volume, after some difficulty finding a publisher, came out in 1913, and Proust continued to work with an almost inhuman dedication on his masterpiece right up until his death in 1922, at the age of 51.
Today he is widely recognised as one of the greatest authors of the 20th Century, and À la recherche du temps perdu as one of the most dazzling and significant works of literature to be written in modern times.
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