Acclaimed English actor Neville Jason does a beautiful job performing Proust's finely-honed depiction of life among Parisian aristocrats. In this abridged third volume of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator returns to Paris and becomes fixated on the Duchesse de Guermantes, who lives next door. As he devises ways of meeting her, he also experiences a complex web of social and sexual relationships that include the rumblings of the Dreyfus affair. Listeners will appreciate Jason's smooth elocution and range of voices, although some may find his substitution of English accents for French at least a little blasphemous.
In The Guermantes Way, Part 1, the third volume of Marcel Proust's monumental, seven volume Remembrance of Things Past, Marcel penetrates the inner sanctum of Paris high society and falls in love with the fascinating Duchesse de Guermantes. With his unmatched powers of observation Proust vividly describes the struggles for political, social, and sexual supremacy played out beneath a veneer of elegant manners.
Since John Rowe hasn't gotten past the second volume of "Remembrance" (which makes me so very, very sad), I decided to give Neville Jason a try. But as I listened to this book, I kept thinking, "This is like Proust: The Screenplay." It's entertaining, and Neville is an excellent reader, but for me it was like Moby Dick with the whale descriptions cut out. (Yeah, I did love those whale descriptions. And the passages about spermaceti.) The society exploits of the unpleasant, self-serving Guermantes family members are not all that interesting to me: it's Prousts' musings and digressions that I find the most deep, lyrical, and satisfying, and they're missing here. I did listen to both parts of this book (and yes, Jason is truly terrific as the icky Charlus having a tantrum), but I will be trying again to finish the series in hard copy rather than continuing with the abridged version.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Guermantes Way, Part 1? What did you like least?
What is read is fine, but an awful lot has been left out. Seems like those interested in Proust at all would be interested in all of Proust. Leave the abridging for those books which won't suffer from it.
If you’ve listened to books by Marcel Proust before, how does this one compare?
Delighted by the first two; this one less. In fact, the abridgement makes me think twice about getting the next volume, also abridged.
What about Neville Jason’s performance did you like?
It was fine. Good range of voices; perhaps over Anglicizing some of them. It is, after all France, not England,we are hearing about....
Do you think The Guermantes Way, Part 1 needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
Offer the whole book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The Geurmantes Way is the third book of the seven-volume In Search of Lost Time / Rememberances. For audiobook purposes, it is divided into two parts, this being the first. As with this entire series, it is beautifully narrated by Neville Jason.
Warning: This book contains no car chases or helicopter explosions.
This particular section covers the return of the narrator to Paris, his obsession with making the acquaintance of his neighbor, the Duchesse de Guermantes, and his growing friendship with her nephew, Robert Saint-Loup, who is in turn obsessed with his mistress, Rachel. In between these relationships, and an increasing emphasis on complex rules of society weave the tendrils of the Dreyfus case.
As I have noted before, Proust is an unhurried author, who delights in ordinary events. If you like really wonderful writing, a relaxed pace, and are after a break from a diet of thrillers, you will really like this.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Scintillating language, perceptions and atmosphere; having read it in French I think the English version is superb and the narration and characterization wonderful.
5 of 7 people found this review helpful