I've finally decided that I am going to finish this mammoth this year, despite all the previous attempts in my life. I think it helps that I've reached a point in my life that I'm satisfied with an uneventful narrative, which happens for quite some stretches in these novels. Onward and upward.
Well, I've finished the first novel of the two in this volume and it was nowhere near the struggle I had been dreading. I think age and maturity (haha) have made it definitely easier for me to both relate to the novel's perspective as well as to enjoy long passages that are reflective and character driven rather than advance the plot action. The first half of Swann's Way
definitely falls into the category of reflective prose divorced from much in the way of action. The succeeding story has become more eventful with the reflective passages salted throughout instead of sprawling over a couple hundred pages in one bite.
More as I go along.
Well, the second novel in this volume was quite entertaining and provided me with a favorite quote at the bottom of my profile as well as a personal comment in my diary.
The second novel, often called "Within a Budding Grove" is rendered in more modern translations at "In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower" which is a far cooler title and is greatly more specific to what the book is really about. Our narrator, I still haven't caught his name after one thousand pages, has come to at least his very late teens early twenties and goes to the seaside resort town of Balbec with his grandmother where he meets a number of interesting acquaintances.
The book, in comparison to "Swann's Way" is eventful, though the events tend to be of the "went for picnic" type, which is to say, the pleasures of the idle rich, as they spend several months at this resort. Maybe not the most compelling reading especially with the economy cratering currently (perhaps The Gilded Age would be more appropriate), the glory of Proust isn't in his plotting or his social relevance but the baroque embroidery of his sentence structure. So clustered with nested clauses, Proust requires a degree of attention unlike any other book I've read -- and that includes Joyce.
At any rate, my reviews of all three books will be a bit formless until I finish the entirety of the work, so consider this the first installment of a review in process.