Swann's Way is Marcel Proust's literary masterpiece and the first part of the multivolume audiobook Remembrance of Things Past....
For anyone who ever wondered what Marcel Proust had in mind when he wrote In Search of Lost Time (while bedridden no less), Alain de Botton has the answer....
Ulysses is regarded by many as the single most important novel of the 20th century....
A faithful translation is rare; a translation which preserves intact the original text is very rare; a perfect translation of Montaigne appears impossible....
In Search of Lost Time is Proust's search for the key to the mysteries of memory, time, and consciousness....
The intellectual and religio-philosophical awakening of young Stephen Dedalus as he begins to question and rebel against the Catholic and Irish conventions with which he has been raised....
Sons and Lovers, D. H. Lawrence's first major novel, was also the first in the English language to explore ordinary working-class life from the inside....
Set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, this classic gives a satirical picture of a worldly society. The novel revolves around the exploits of Becky Sharp....
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is a novel by Laurence Sterne considered one of the greatest comic novels in English....
David Rintoul gives one of his finest performances in this committed and deeply moving reading....
Leo Tolstoy's classic story of doomed love is one of the most admired novels in world literature....
Young Julien Sorel, the son of a country timber merchant, carries a portrait of his hero Napoleon Bonaparte and dreams of military glory....
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a titanic figure among the world's great authors, and The Brothers Karamazov is often hailed as his finest novel....
War and Peace is one of the greatest monuments in world literature....
A complex plot of love and inheritance is set against the English legal system of the mid-19th century....
This, the first audio-biography of Marcel Proust, tells the story of one of the world's most original and admired literary geniuses....
Louis-Ferdinand Celine's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every minute of this novel....
Schopenhauer was just 30 when his magnum opus, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, a work of considerable learning and innovation of thought, first appeared in 1818....
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.
Within a Budding Grove is the second of seven volumes. The young narrator, experiencing his youthful sexuality, falls under the spell of a group of adolescent girls, succumbs to the charms of the enchanting Gilberte, and visits a brothel where he meets Rachel. His impressions of life are also stimulated by the painter, Elstir, and his encounter with another girl, Albertine.
My first recommendation when reading Proust is the reader MUST make sure they have a reliable bookmark, because when (not if, but when) you lose your place your faulty memory will not be able to remember exactly where you just were. One young nubile girl starts to blend into another young nubile girl who looks at this point a lot like her friend. One picked flower starts to smell like another from an earlier page; a page that seemed to exist a whole lifetime ago. One young man with mommy issues starts to look almost exactly like another young man with grand-mommy issues.
That being said, you don't read Proust for the lines. You read Proust for everything else. It is those moments between plot points where all the rich texture resides. There is something languorous about just simply letting Proust's prose wash over you ~~~ wave after wave. Suddenly, you really don't care if you've already read a certain page because you are content and you recognize that you will read it again in just a few pages anyway and it will be beautiful and true all over again.
Neville Jason's narration is a fantastic crutch. I use the narration to keep me paced as I read the text. I tried this approach first with Joyce and it worked so well I used it with Pynchon. The listening/reading approach is perfect for Proust.
20 of 22 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of Within a Budding Grove to be better than the print version?
Which character – as performed by Neville Jason – was your favorite?
Baron de Charlus
Any additional comments?
I have just listened to all seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time so these comments apply to the whole series. <br/><br/>Jason's narration of this poetic work is "sans pareil." He gives all the characters a distinctive voice making it much easier to follow.His pronunciation of the french names is impeccable. <br/><br/>His English pronunciation is almost as good. Given Jason's mid-Atlantic plummy accent and the work's preoccupation with the upper class, his pronunciation of (the unfortunately frequently recurring word) "analogous" is teeth grating. (Hint: it should be pronounced with a hard "g.") <br/><br/>Nevertheless, Bravo Neville! (and of course Proust) <br/><br/>
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
If one is not emotionally repulsed by the snobbery and pretentious French world at the time of the Dreyfus affair described within this book than one probably is missing out on what the author is trying to get at. Volume I needs to be read in order to follow what's going on in this book. The first fourth of the book wraps up the story from the previous volume. Marcel, the narrator's, name is not mentioned in this book and is only briefly mentioned in the first book. The maternal grandmother doesn't even recall Marcel's family name when polite convention required it. I'm intrigued by Odette (Swann's wife) and I'm anxious to see how she comes back into the story. This story mostly covers a season at a resort and how Marcel would reflect on how he experienced falling in love. Our memories are shaded by who we have become and the author illustrates that by his story telling.
Proust could best be shelved under Philosophy or Psychology rather than Literature. Our experiences of the world are determined by what our prior beliefs were weighted by our expectations of what we thought was going to happen discounted by what actually did happen. Or in other words, we are all Bayesians. Proust gets that and will show how we always are extrapolating from the past into our interpolation of the 'now' and projecting a future. Sartre quotes Proust extensively in his 'Being and Nothingness' for a reason. (Though, I seriously doubt Proust would have thought of himself as an Existentialist if he had lived into the 1940s, but I suspect he would have been comfortable with the Phenomenologist label in the style of Gadamar as laid out in 'Truth and Method'. One gets the similar lessons in each book, but Proust reads like a story instead of reading like a dry philosophy text book).
Almost every other page in this book has a wry observation or two on being-in-the-world and the story is only acting as a pretense in order for the reader to understand deeper truths about being human. The world is not best experienced by atomization (that's a Nietzsche word and sentiment and the author within this book refers to Nietzsche many times). The totality of the whole through our familiarity of our being-in-the-world is how we must cope with our understanding about our own taking a stand on our own being. Even though, we are constantly in a Bayesian trap (the author doesn't use the word Bayesian but he continuously describes how we create our experiences in those terms).
One of the wry observations the author made is that even though we may dream about animals, animals are different from humans because they have reason with certainty and humans have reason without certainty. It's not important if one agrees with that sentiment (though, I do, and it's actually one of the better definitions I've seen for what makes humans different from animals), what is fascinating about this book is it has many psychological insights that are worth pondering. Another observation, when our inclinations are formed or discovered in our youth if we deny those inclinations latter in life we will be inauthentic to ourselves and much the less for it. The author was specifically referring to himself as a writer but it's easy to generalize that sentiment in to other areas.
It's our phrases (scrapes of music, works of art, or lines in a book) that make up our life and give us our understanding for the sublime. A real artist needs to break the mimetic trap from which we our thrown into the world and break free from the imitation of the 'they'. The narrator, Marcel, believes that a great piece of art such as a great book can help us move beyond the herd mentality of the they and allow us to transcend (he'll say that or equivalently in the narrative). There are a lot of deep thoughts within this book, but one needs to discover them for oneself and just be aware that this book does not read like 'The Girl on the Train' because it has something it wants to give to the reader beyond mere mindless repetition of stale story telling.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Where does Within a Budding Grove rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
As a very good one.
Who was your favorite character and why?
The Baron de Charlus, whose erratic nature causes him to steal every scene in which he appears.
Have you listened to any of Neville Jason’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Yes, in other volumes, and he is always exceptional.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The scene in which the narrator has an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and loss merely from the view of a copse of trees receding on the horizon.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I found myself mesmerized by this book. Proust is a master of describing the intimate details of his thinking. Very little happens in the book outwardly. Essentially the narrator tells of his summer in a town on the Norman coast. And the characters, including the narrator, aren't particularly admirable. But it's absolutely fascinating to listen to his riffs on a wide variety of subjects, from sexuality to arts and artists to creativity to memory. Very hard to describe, but it's like listening to someone describing the incredibly interesting things they see inside a microscope looking at human character. The reader is good. Definitely kept my interest alive.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is volume 2 of a 7 volume series comprising the entire novel "In Search of Lost Time". In this volume the maturing narrator becomes much more interested in the opposite sex, continues developing a rich fantasy life, and is motivated to pluck some flowers - it's so hard to choose! You will enjoy the intermingling of all layers of fin-de-siècle French society (from hotel crooks to the nobility) in the beach town of Balbec as the narrator exhibits stalker-like behavior as he tries to get introduced (very important in fin-de-siecle French society) to a clique of pretty young girls. Watch his carefully laid plans for meeting the girls (and also those for breaking into high society) come to naught, only to finally succeed because of a family connection: his grandmother.
Neville Jason's reading is a pleasure to listen to. He's a great voice actor, which makes it easier to identify the characters. it was quite an undertaking to read at 1.25 million words for all 7 volumes. (If all 7 volumes are not available when you read this, please put in a request for the missing volumes to Audible.)
Today, Moncrieff's title "Remembrance of Things Past" has been updated to "In Search of Lost Time", a better translation of the original French. Moncrieff's translation of what is perhaps the greatest twentieth-century novel was a work of art in itself, but the translation included some errors and is out of date. I recommend obtaining William C. Carters translation of this volume in paperback from Yale to read or browse when it becomes available, but this is still a great recording.
If you could sum up Within a Budding Grove in three words, what would they be?
A Budding Grove.<br/>The narrator and his friends are all budding, adolescents dreaming and exploring, life,art, each other; yet it is a wavering, though generally horizontal timeline. The narrator has to constantly alter his past, childish, passions, and occasionally glances at the future.
Have you listened to any of Neville Jason’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
Only the previous novel in the series, 'Swann's Way'. They are both extraordinary. I have read the books more than once, yet I heard things I hadn't noticed, in his performance.<br/>I could not imagine, before hearing him, how someone could read a sentence a page long and make it completely clear!
I can’t get enough of Proust, and thanks to this monumental feat of audio recording, I don’t have to. What makes him so wonderful is his wonderful sense of humour and acute sense for human psychology. Not psychology in some sort of distant, academic sense, but pragmatic, observational and projective, where he not only sees things around him and is able to analyze through them the human condition, but also the marvellous clear-sightedness where he’s able to write about “himself” (inasmuch as we want to see the narrator as the author, something this work effortlessly embraces) as the object of critique. His irony, sometimes near-impenetrable, encloses whole conversations, that only afterwards one realizes have been written down in jest.
The second part in the series, “Within a Budding Grove”, (again, this is Moncrieff’s title, the correct translation of the French “À l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs” rather being “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower” – as a sidenote, it’s good to know since the theme is played upon in the book) is slightly more difficult to appreciate than the sublime first volume, “Swann’s Way”.
I say “more difficult to appreciate”, which one may interpret as a coward’s way of saying “bad”, simply because while it’s a brilliant work, Proustian all the way through, it’s a step down from the wonders of the first volume, and for that matter, from the following volume. The first part, “Around Mrs Swann” ("Autour de Mme Swann"), is wonderful, but I can’t relate much to the Balbec episode, that is, "Place Names: The Place" ("Noms de pays: Le pays"). Perhaps it’s because we already have the archetype of Albertine in Mrs Swann that much of it feels rather rehearsed.
Neville Jason continues to amaze. Someone somewhere (vague enough for you?) described Jason’s ability to make Proust’s often quite complex sentences clear with his articulation and pace. He’s such a joy to listen to, and I’m completely sold on the prospect of listening to his “War and Peace” whenever I finish “Time Regained”.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful