French writer Marcel Proust is often considered one of Europe’s greatest modern authors. He dedicated his life to writing “In Search of Lost Time” – a 3,000-word opus in seven volumes which many applaud but many more have never read. Why should we bother? Author Josh Landy makes the case.
I too have referenced Proust’s madeleines – those little French sponge cakes that the narrator Marcel dips in tea in volume 1 of "In Search of Lost Time" and which transport him back to his childhood.
But have I actually read the chapter in question? I have not. I abandoned ship, years ago, at page 10.
This has not been a source of guilt or even regret.
Feminist critic and writer Germaine Greer convinced me years back that reading Proust was a waste of time; wanting to lose yourself in the tortuous meanderings of multitudinous characters and punctuation-oblivious phrases meant you had a problem.
But as the centenary year of Proust’s death draws to a close, writer Josh Landy is convincing when he says it’s time to pick up the journey.
Landy is Proustian and proud of it. In his recently published The World According to Proust he makes a witty, engaging case as to why the writer is as timely as ever.
And he knows how to speak to the Proust-resistant. He started off as one.
“That was pretty much the end for many years. I just thought I was defeated.”
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