It is often hard to bear the tears that we ourselves have caused.
~ Marcel Proust
A few months back, I began to read 'À la recherche du temps perdu' (In Search of Lost Time, also Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust. I had always wanted to read it, but it was daunting because each volume consisted of 600 pages or more of packed writing.
I almost fell asleep reading the first page. The words rambled on and on. The full stop was definitely a long way off from the first word. I reminded myself this was not a modern 21st century work, but from the 1800's. People wrote with more flair and sophistication back then.
I took a deep breath and regarded finishing at least one chapter as my "mission impossible" challenge. As I flipped through the contents page, I found that the second chapter was smack in the middle of the thick book! I read on, and as I made my way through the first book, 'The Way by Swann's', I was hooked. This was romance. Proust described every tiny detail in a way that filled you with a nebula of romantic longing.
The whole work was semi-autobiographical, but it was no doubt a romance. The romance was not of a modern day love story. The romance was in the the finesse that Proust described everything he encountered. The appreciation of nature, the clouds, the sea, the flowers, the setting sun, dawn and twilight. People, their gestures, their appearances, their demeanors, the gossips and their loves and hates. The music and the painting. The expanse and array of the subjects covered were breathtaking.
I finished two volumes and I am reading 'The Guermantes Way'. I am completely addicted to Proust's writing. People rarely write like this now, but I guess back in the 1800's, people were more leisurely. Who has the time and patience now to read a sentence that goes on half a page, just describing a flower? But to me, this is romance.
The whole work consists of 7 volumes. The Way by Swann's, Within a Budding Grove, The Guermantes Way, Sodome et Gomorrhe, The Captive, The Sweet Cheat Gone and The Past Recaptured
(Posy by Bonnie Wong)
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