This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust. I doubt there’s a better way to celebrate this monumental literary festivity than by engaging in an in-depth discussion of the novel at Classical Pursuits in Toronto. If you happen to be in New York this spring, there’s an exhibit dedicated to Marcel Proust and Swann’s Way: 100th Anniversary at the Morgan Library. And if you happen to see it, please report back to me in July!
In an ideal world, we would read the entirety of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. We would spend the entire month of July, reclining on the sofas in Victoria College, discussing the meaning of life and luxuriating in all seven volumes of Proust’s mammoth oeuvre. Time would stop. The rest of the world would take care of us, serve us tea and madeleines, and soon enough we would begin speaking in Proustian syntax, swooning over Belle Epoque Paris, our thoughts winding in and out of the present moment, weaving together past experiences, sensations and memories. Alas, this isn’t an ideal world, and we will have to content ourselves with a discussion of Swann’s Way.
The first time I read Proust, I was intimidated. In fact, I put off reading Proust until the summer after my senior year of college; I was weary of tackling something so long, afraid I wouldn’t be able to relate to a world so removed from my own, and terrified of the ornate and long-winded syntax. And yet, the opposite happened. I found myself intoxicated by the pacing of Proust’s narrative in Swann’s Way and especially by the way he managed to dissect our deepest emotions and desires. After reading a volume of Proust, I not only found myself entranced by his world of salons and endless discussions about art, music, memory and time, but I found myself compelled to observe the world around me more closely, take the time to reflect upon my surroundings and, ultimately, to see them more clearly. I always tell people that the summer I read Proust was the summer I really learned to read.
To find out more, click here, The Art of Memory: Reading Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust