Friday, January 09, 2015

Marcel Proust, Time Regained (1927)

Well, you have to give him this much: his novel does have an ending.  I thought maybe it would just sort of trail off, but it definitely ends, with ol’ Marcel shaking off his despair at the conviction that he would never be able to be a writer and writing.  And writing and writing and writing and then writing some more.  MY GOODNESS.  There is a certain roughness, with some textual inconsistencies—he was revising on his deathbed, as people are fond of telling us—but still.  Ends.  It does.

This review on goodreads is pretty damned funny.  You should probably read it instead of my blathering.

Actually, I have to say, I was kind of taken with this volume—I mean, to the extent that I’m taken with anything in Proust.  The narrator’s excessive creepiness is mostly (not totally, but you can’t have everything!) absent or relegated to the background.  The first part is about Life During Wartime, and it’s pretty compelling, with lots of apocalyptic stuff comparing Paris’s fate, possibly, to Pompeii’s.  There’s also a memorable and strange bit where the narrator stumbles into a pseudo-brothel where rich men can indulge their masochistic gay fantasies with soldiers looking to supplement their incomes.  Good times.

Then, there’s an extended meditation about aging and how we’re just going along, la la la, thinking we’re who we always were, and then something happens and we realize, holy shit, I’m not who I was.  It definitely resonated with me; I still feel in many ways like a child, yet it is definitely true that I am not as young as I once was.  What a brilliant observation THAT was.

Oh, and then we get into more blah blah fucking blah, as he comes to the realization that he’s able to write.  YES, WE NOTICED, MARCEL.  THIS IS NOT MUCH OF A SHOCKER OF AN ENDING.  The last fifty pages or so where somewhat torturous as I was repeatedly monitoring how many pages were left, what the ereader estimated my remaining time was, where the little status bar next to In Search of Lost Time on the menu screen was, and so on, all accompanied with a rising HOLY SHIT I AM SO CLOSE TO BEING DONE feeling.  And can you really blame me?

Anyway.  Done.  Finis.  That’s all.  Thoughts on the novel—or whatever you want to call it—as a whole to come.


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