Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Marcel Proust

Becky mentioned Proust... which reminds me- the cultivated person will have read Proust. Certainly, his pace is languid and his sentences are like huge tangles of cotton candy; but, once you're accustomed to the style, you realize that he's like this all-seeing eye in his soundproofed room- he notices every single aspect of French upper class life as it slowly comes to an end. What is startling about In Search of Lost Time is that it is possible to open any of the volumes at random and find a glistening insight on the page you've opened. He is like an anthopologist among a strange tribe cataloguing every one of their thoughts, aspirations and self-deluding lies. About three volumes in, we're struck to realize that he's been condemning them all along, and at the end, we realize that he's condemned his younger self as well. It's a breathtaking accomplishment, and one of the true masterpieces of modern literature. As one of our erstwhile Professors put it: "He's only like the greatest novelist ever!"

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