Recorded Books has selected a narrator who makes Proust light-going, if that's imaginable. George Guidall draws us into the banter and gossip of the provincial French bourgeoisie; he makes us feel as if we were at the table with Marcel's family or sharing the parlor with Monsieur Swann's coterie. More impressive still is the ease with which he handles even the most difficult exposition. Try, for instance, Guidall's rendition of "Combray," a complex meditation on Marcel's childhood at his family's country home. What might have been sleep-inducing becomes a haunting, even mesmerizing, experience - the mark of a virtuoso audiobook narrator.
Swann’s Way is the first and best-known part of Proust’s monumental work, Remembrance of Things Past. Often compared to a symphony, this complex masterpiece is ideally suited for audio. Listening lets you appreciate anew the incredible beauty of Proust’s language and the uniqueness of his style. The novel’s narrator, Marcel, finds the true meaning of experience in memories stimulated by some random object or event. He recalls his childhood, and eventually reconstructs the story of Monsieur Swann and his passion for Odette, a beautiful, but socially inferior woman. Marcel’s waking reverie gives rise to fascinating questions about the meaning of time. Swann’s Way, with its long passages of intricate introspection, becomes much more accessible and enjoyable with George Guidall’s lucid narration.—Includes an exclusive interview with Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at CUNY.
Public Domain (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This is the first book of an extraordinary seven part novel. I listened to the samples of all the versions available on audible, and as soon as I heard George Guidall’s narration I was hooked. With a narration the least bit pedantic or dry or florid or scholarly this could be quite tiresome. Guidall’s light touch and almost childlike tone was perfect for the story. This is less a story than ephemerally connected evocations, exploring the associations between memory and sense and time. The writing is introspective, complex and beautiful.
The only downside that, after completing this first part, I found this narrator had not read the other parts on Audible. The samples by Rowe and Jason did not entice me. I hope Guidall will narrate the other parts.
OK, I know Proust is considered a great writer. I wanted to like this book, to see what so many others have seen in it. But my honest reaction is that it was a snooze fest.
There's no story. The whole long book is Marcel's memories of his childhood. Sometimes the characters he describes are interesting, and when that happened, I woke up and enjoyed the passage. But most of the time he simply recounts how his exquisitely sensitive young self reacted to trivial, mundane incidents. And he goes on and on and on about them. Raindrops, for instance, take up a whole paragraph. Not rain--raindrops. Some people may find that poetic, but it just put me to sleep.
I was an English major. I love good writing, and with a highly regarded author I am willing to go a long way toward appreciating his or her style, even when it is not to my taste. Recordings of classic literature have been some of my favorite Audible purchases. But I just couldn't finish this.
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