41. Swann's Way by Marcel Proust
After I saw an old Shelby Foote interview on CSpan2 BookTV, I decided to read (listen to) an abridged version of the first book of the total work called In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past. Shelby's mother gave him the entire novel in four bound volumes when he was 17 years. He had read through ALL the unabridged volumes nine times between 1933 and 1993, and the entire work is 3,000 pages!
I admire Shelby Foote so much (he wrote the definitive Civil War history and was made famous when he appeared as an historian on Ken Burn's Civil War series) that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
When asked why he had read them so many times, he said he read them for two reasons:
"One is pure enjoyment. Proust is one of the most intransient (permanent) writers that ever lived. And the second, he can teach you something, you can always learn. A writer can always learn from Proust, and he can indeed, we were talking about Shakespeare earlier, that's the grand master teacher."With that glowing recommendation, I listened to abridged version and was pleasantly surprised at how accessible he is. He is a beautiful writer with vivid descriptions that made my walks with Proust enjoyable! The musical interludes on the audio version are also quite lovely.
I think I got the sanitized version in the abridgement because I guess there is more homosexual undertones in the unabridged version, or maybe I didn't get it in the abridged?
I can say I read Proust now. WOOHOO! Not sure if I will read the rest of them, but I did love this narrator!
In fact, here is a video of the narrator introducing Proust. It is excellent!