CBR10Bingo – So Delicious!
Oh, I think this completes my first entry for the Bingo. So, Bingo!
Swann’s Way is the fist volume of In Search of Lost Time, Marcel Proust’s seven-volume series of novels based and not based on his early life. I will likely continue reading the series, but with some breaks in between because this book was so sleepy and warm and cozy, that to keep reading would be to lull myself into losing track of the threads within. I was also listening to the audiobook, and the pacing and narration of that was also like that of a lullaby.
All of this seems by design given that the book itself is mostly about naps, and sleeping, and eating, and hugs, and snacks, and gossip. Obviously the reason I am calling this one “So Delicious” is because of the central and early metaphor of the madeline cookie dipped in tea that inspires and triggers such evocative memories in the narrator. But it’s interesting to look at this very famous series of moments in their context. In the scene, the narrator is not sure what triggers his memory or why initially. So part of the scene is him investigating his own experience to figure out why he has this flash and sensation of memory and not simply, like a portkey, biting into the cookie and being whisked away. It’s beautifully reflective moment, and one I plan to share with my students.
The novel splits its time between our and his family, and the figure of Charles Swann, a family friends, cautionary tale, would-be lothario, and progenitor of class order, rank, and privilege. As the novel progresses our main plots focus on Swann’s affection for Odette, the various pitfalls this creates, and then the kind of implication that the narrator will be emulating Swann in his interactions with his playmate, Swann’s daughter.
I read the CK Scott Moncreif translation, which is contemporary with the novel, and I’ve heard it’s not always the closest translation, but it does provide a beautiful novel regardless.