A key voice in the development of modernist fiction, Marcel Proust is revered for his seven volume meditation on love, time and memory, In Search of Lost Time.
In Search of Lost Time in Order
Other Books by Marcel Proust
Born in Paris in 1871, Proust suffered greatly with asthma and as a child would make frequent recuperative visits to the village of Illiers, which was later immortalised in prose by the author as Combray. Proust’s first writings coincided with a period when he was making his mark in fashionable Parisian society and developing a reputation as something of a dilettante. These pieces were generally articles for journals (one of which, Le Banquet, he co-founded) and his first attempt at a novel was abandoned in 1897, although many sections would reappear in In Search of Lost Time. In the first decade of the new century Proust lost both his parents, with the death of his beloved mother a particularly devastating blow.
In Search of Lost Time
In 1909, Proust began work on what would become not only his masterpiece but one of the seminal works of the twentieth century. In Search of Lost Time is narrated by a nameless version of Proust himself who, upon dipping a madeleine cake into a cup of tea, is reminded of his childhood holidays to the village of Combray and the friends and family that he knew there. The first volume, Swann’s Way, is split into two parts; the first being the narrator’s recollections of his youth and the second, Swann in Love, a profound analysis of the doomed nature of romantic love. Subsequent volumes chart the narrator’s adolescence and fateful meeting with his future wife, his introduction into high society and his complex, destructive marriage to the alluring but promiscuous Albertine. Clocking in at over 3,000 pages and featuring around 2,000 characters, In Search of Lost Time has been praised both for its psychological insight and multi-layered characterisation, and also for its unconventional structure and singular prose style.
For the last three years of his life, Proust suffered appalling ill-health and was confined to his cork-lined bedroom, from where he would sleep in the day and write at night. When he died in 1922 the last three volumes of In Search of Lost Time remained in draft form. Posthumously edited by his younger brother Robert, the sequence’s concluding part, Time Regained, was finally published in 1927.
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