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Swann's Way | [Marcel Proust]

Swann's Way

Swann’s Way is the first of seven volumes in Remembrance of Things Past. It sets the scene with the narrator’s memories being famously provoked by the taste of that little cake, the madeleine, accompanied by a cup of lime-flowered tea. It is an unmatched portrait of fin-de-siècle France.
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Publisher's Summary

Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th-century literature. Neville Jason’s widely praised abridged version has rightly become an audiobook landmark, and now, upon numerous requests, he is recording the whole work unabridged which, when complete, will run for some 140 hours.

Swann’s Way is the first of seven volumes and sets the scene with the narrator’s memories being famously provoked by the taste of that little cake, the madeleine, accompanied by a cup of lime-flowered tea. It is an unmatched portrait of fin-de-siècle France.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

Public Domain (P)2012 Naxos AudioBooks

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (96 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 02-24-13
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 02-24-13 Member Since 2011

    A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not a book one reads but inhabits & floats through"

    For years, I have put off reading Proust mainly because the size of In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past seemed intimidating. Now, having finished Swann's Way: Vol 1, I feel a compelling need to keep going.

    This novel is preoccupied with all the details that surround time, desire, love, memory, happiness, life, truth, names and relationships. It is vivid, detailed and reminds the reader to look, feel, grab, smell, think, confess, and take big risks to grow that one perfect, mystic blossom of love.

    Proust's prose is beautiful, his imagery is brilliant and he seems to swing for the fence on every page. This is not a book one reads, but one inhabits and floats through. But first one must find and dip your own Madeleine.

    Neville's reading is brilliant.

    25 of 27 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy CHICAGO, IL, United States 02-19-13
    Nancy CHICAGO, IL, United States 02-19-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Stunning"

    Absolutely captivating and stunning. The narration is outstanding - a delight to listen to and extremely well modulated. Do not allow pre-conceived notions regrading Proust hinder your taking this most worthy journey...cannot wait to continue the series.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael R. Lloyd Ottawa, Canada 09-21-12
    Michael R. Lloyd Ottawa, Canada 09-21-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Neville Jason brings this book to life"
    Would you listen to Swann's Way again? Why?

    Yes - this is a story that is both easy to listen too and densely rich with detail. I read the entire Search of Lost Time over ten years ago and of course have forgotten much of it, so this audio version has been a great way to get reacquainted - and to discover meaning and significance that I overlooked the first time.

    I know that each additional listen will reveal yet more meaning and connections between characters, places and events.


    What about Neville Jason???s performance did you like?

    Neville Jason has perfect pace and delivery. And most importantly for a book of this size and complexity, he has the talent and vocal dexterity to give each character a unique and engaging voice.


    Any additional comments?

    The text is the earlier translation, so can seem a little precious at times, but Neville Jason's delivery is so good that it stays fresh and alive.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Geoffrey Romaine, Australia 02-21-13
    Geoffrey Romaine, Australia 02-21-13
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    "Writing and narration at its best"
    Any additional comments?

    My encounter with Proust's great work commenced ten years or so ago, when I purchased a six-volume version in hardcopy. An acquaintance and I would commiserate with each other, from time to time, on our lack of progress; intimidated no doubt by Proust's reputation for long sentences.

    Then at a sale I bought two volumes of a 12-volume (abridged) Naxos audiobook on CD. I fell in love with the audiobook and Neville Jason's narration. I was surprised to find that Proust is such a good writer that it was a good listening experience even with most of the book missing.

    The next step I took was to subscribe to the audiobook online where I had to download the next section every ten minutes or so. I had access to the full abridged work and it was cheap. But it was very tedious.

    An introductory offer ito Audible.com is allowing me to get the full unabridged version at a price I can afford and in a convenient MP3 format. Swann's Way is surely one of the great audiobooks; and that's just the first volume of seven.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marianne PETERSHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, United States 01-06-13
    Marianne PETERSHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, United States 01-06-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Wonderful"
    Where does Swann's Way rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Up near the top


    What other book might you compare Swann's Way to and why?

    It incomparable


    Have you listened to any of Neville Jason’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    Thank you Neville Jason for giving us such a wonderful rendition. I look forward to the rest
    of Proust as read by you

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David E. Gregson San Diego, CA USA 09-17-12
    David E. Gregson San Diego, CA USA 09-17-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Neville Jason superbly navigates Proust"
    What did you love best about Swann's Way?

    The narrator understands what he is saying and superbly navigates his way through Proust's endless sentences.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Swann's Way?

    The dipping of the cake into the tea, of course. That is the "most memorable" because everybody who has head about the book knows about that scene already -- and almost nothing else about the 2,500,000 words in "In Search of Lost Time."


    Which scene was your favorite?

    All are superb and not to be forgotten.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Surely you jest! It's very, very long.


    Any additional comments?

    Recommended.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 05-15-12
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 05-15-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Beautiful........"

    So this is beautiful. The language is beautiful. The structure is beautiful. The narration is beautiful. But it gets really, really boring to listen to. Like being fed constantly on perfectly ripe strawberry's dipped in rich cream. Lovely for a while but then it starts to wear thin after a few hours.

    I set out on this thinking, "Great - another classic to get under the belt" but while I made my way all the way through this volume I gave in halfway through the next. "Rememberance..." is clearly not for me. I listened fo 7+ hours to the story of a mans life and realised that at the end of it I could not care less what happened to him. I just found myself thinking that Twain or Hemmingway would have given me just as much information and just as much pleasure in about half a page and 5 minutes of narration. And yes - I know that makes me a philistine but I don't care.

    The narration is very clear and a pleasure to listen to but the text is just too windy for my tastes.

    22 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    max factor III Beverly Hills, California USA 08-13-12
    max factor III Beverly Hills, California USA 08-13-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Only Worth Reading When You Have Plenty of Time"

    Proust has much to say about relationships and the inner voice that so often guides one. He does so with beautiful writing and descriptions; however, I am discouraged from reading more at this time of the remaining books because it simply takes too much concentration, compared to what one learns. Tolstoy is more my taste. Great insights about Life and relationships, with excellent story telling. It is the later I certainly miss in Proust.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
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  • Antti
    Jyväskylä, Finland
    8/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Life, A User's Manual"

    To some extent writing about a single book in Marcel Proust's seven-part "À la recherché du temps perdu", more accurately translated as "In Search of Lost Time" but in Moncrieff's translation having the title "Remembrance of Things Past", is actually writing about the whole series. But since I am listening to the whole of it, I'll be writing about them individually as well.

    I'm by no means unfamiliar with Proust, having read seven tenths of it in Finnish, my first language, in which it has been released in ten volumes instead of the original seven ("Swann's Way" is divided in two volumes, as is "Within a Budding Grove" and "Guermantes' Way"). It'll be, then, a nice experience to return to it and ultimately go all the way.

    Proust's writing works wonderfully in the audiobook format. The way his language builds up, all the allegories and metaphors stacked upon each other and how the currents of thought swerve having been recalled by any minute detail, all this works beautifully when one reads the book but exceptionally well when one is read to. In this respect Neville Jason's narration is superb. He takes his time, not procrastinating but certainly not hurrying.

    Equally importantly his reading brings out the humour in Proust. And what a hoot this book really is! The dinner party at Combray and a certain episode about complementing the wine brought by Swann is hilarious on page and is really brought to life when heard out loud. Many other instances work just as wonderfully, including the Verdurin episodes in all their glorious absurdity.

    And then there's Swann himself and his love and infatuation for Odette. At the same time fervent, life-affirming, destructive and inescapable, the irrationality with which Proust paints Swann's actions, or rather, the movements of his soul, only reinforces the believability of his neurotic obsession. His story is framed by the Narrator's own insecurity in love, first toward his mother at Combray, then for Gilberte.

    I know how I'll be spending my next credits.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    London, United Kingdom
    4/14/13
    Overall
    "Hard going as an audiobook"

    This is undoubtedly a great classic, though one that requires patience and concentration. It's all in the detail and minutiae, the process of remembering and trying to capture fleeting impressions and feelings from the narrator's childhood and then the perspective of Swann. The canvas is small but the detail incredibly rich, like a Persian miniature, and for the audiobook, Neville Jason does a great job to narrate with unflagging passion and feeling over such a sustained period. I must confess, however, that I drifted off quite often, and found it hard to maintain interest compared to other books where a more muscular plot pulls you along without effort. On the upside, it's split into 10 minute sections so you can swallow it down like medicine once or twice a day before switching to something easier going.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    United Kingdom
    12/2/13
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    "Unparalleled reading of a great book"
    If you could sum up Swann's Way in three words, what would they be?

    Memory and time.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Swann - fascinating to see his character develop over the course of the book and how his relationship with Odette turns out.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    It would be invidious to choose. The book needs to be taken as a whole (and as part of the overall series). It is not just about "scenes", but interpretations and re-interpretations and linkages and philosophical and social musings.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    A long book (and series) so pacing is important. Audio allowed me to race (relatively speaking) through the whole series as I could listen while walking, on trains etc.


    Any additional comments?

    It deserves its high reputation. Some, but relatively few, longeurs once you accept the way the book unfolds and get into the flow which becomes addictive. The central themes are as relevant now as when written. I was not sure how I would take to Neville Jason after hearing the free taster. He rapidly grew on me and gives what I think is an outstanding, nuanced performance, with appropriate characterisation. Clear and warm diction, easy to understand and follow as complex, long sentences were worked through with sufficient forward momentum. His voice is now Marcel Proust for me!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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