Saturday, January 23, 2010

lil' Marcel

Marcel Proust was born in 1871 and died in 1922. 'A' la recherhe du temps perdu' (In Search of Lost Time) was published in seven volumes and was immediately recognized as a revolutionary work of literature. Seamlessly weaving contemporary ideas of Darwin, Freud, and Einstein with skills of analysis and sharp wit, Proust created such an extraordinary novel, that many claim that it is the greatest fiction to date.

In Search of Lost Time is a fictional autobiography by a man named Marcel. The first forty pages describe his sleeplessness as a young boy anxious for his mother's goodnite kiss. It is here that the Proustian Experience is introduced. As a man, Marcel, takes a madeliene cookie and dips it in his tea and suddenly recalls in vivid detail his memories at Combray where his aunt would give him a madeliene dunked in tea as a boy. The association, unadultered by any recurrance in his life since, bring forth memories potent and clear. He realizes that experiences remain eternally present in the unconscious and discovers his vocation to write In Search of Lost Time.

The novel blurs the discovery to tell the discovery. It is a work of art about one who becomes one who makes art. To attempt to read In Search of Lost Time without help may prove futile. I found How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton and The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust by Howard Moss both to be invaluable introductions to entering Proust's masterwork.

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