I’m re-reading ‘In Search of Lost Time’. I read it through once and have made various abortive attempts to re-read since; this time I’ve got most of the way through the first volume (of three) so hopefully I’ll finish.
I still think Proust is a joy to read. Sometimes. The passages describing places, people and social situations are fabulous – vivid, atmospheric, barbed. But the endless philosophopsychologipontificating is bugging me a bit this time. When you’re reading the third page of a discursus about the narrator’s developing love-interest in Gilberte, framed in terms of the particularity of individual experience and the distorting effects of emotion and memory on our perceptions, and the content is remarkably similar to a similar discursus about ten pages ago, and another five pages before that, and several dealing with Swann’s love for Odette; and you know that in the next volume you’re going to go through the whole thing again with the narrator and Albertine – well, chewing your own arm off becomes a tempting option.
Proust’s musings are a key part of the book, of course. I just think an occasional intervention from a strong-minded editor might have tightened the whole thing up a bit.