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The last Proust post?

Posted on January 22, 2011 in Culture Literature

So about a month-and-a-half ago I finished The Past Regained, the final volume of Remembrance of Things Past. I was going to say something about it, but then I didn’t. Life is always, I suppose, getting in the way of things that are “marvelously about life.” At any rate, while I recall having all kinds of exciting things to say at the time, I suppose I’m now mostly interested in saying that it got good again, which I suppose makes sense, seeing as how it was written at the same time as Swann’s Way, and before it descended into pure sniveling.

The aspects of the book having to do with recollection are much more explicit, which I suppose is the point. Simply laying out the theoretical armature in volume one would have been boring, and not nearly as effective. By the time the curtain is being pulled away from Proust’s ideas about memory and experience he’s already dragged the reader through a narrative that has approximates that sort of experience primarily by being too detail-rich for the reader to hang on to much of it. This kind of enacting what you write is a marvelous skill, even when it’s clear that the filler content could have been a little more varied, if you know what I’m saying.

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