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.
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.
22 su 24 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione
I fully appreciated this version of the novel for two reasons: I had read the Graphic Novel of the book (comic book) by Stephane Heuet, and I absolutely always love a George Guidall narration. I haven't listened to the other versions of this volume by other narrators, there's no need to since nobody narrates better than Guidall.
For me, this is a rare fictional book in which I would have been served by reading the physical copy since I could have underlined all of the brilliant lines within the text which clearly transcended the story that is ostensibly being told. Though, the interview at the end by the Proust expert mentions that the book is noted for it's extremely long sentences, but that would have confused me if I had to read it but for which I didn't really notice while listening.
This book was definitely worth while for me even though I almost never tip my toes into the murky water of great fiction, but I enjoy philosophy and this book within the text has plenty of insights into philosophy. I had noticed that Sartre in 'Being and Nothingness' had quoted from this book multiple times. There is a philosophical question that glides thru this book: 'how do we know what we know" and how our external and internal worlds form our perceptions, and of course the question of time and memory. But, I'll leave it to the individual listener to find their own wisdom within this book and to understand why this book is said to be the greatest book of the 20th century.
The book can be hard to follow because so much of it deals with "involuntary memory" excursions, but having had read the comic book fairly recently before listening to the story, I was never overly confused by where the narrator was in the story. (The expert at the end of the story mentioned that the narrator of this book does give his name once and his name is Marcel).
There is an extremely funny line in the book and I would not have understood it unless I had read the comic book and had my DNA sampled by 23andMe. It turns out there is a gene which some people carry which makes their 'chamber pot' smell of perfume if the person eats asparagus. The author makes use of that fact and says a line about that (though in this translation they say 'chamber' not 'chamber pot') and would have gone completely passed me if I had not been aware of that effect or had not read the comic.
My advice for people who want to read great literature but get confused by it because they can't always understand it is 1) get the graphic novel and 2) get this version narrated by Guidall, and you will be surprised by how much you'll get out of this book.
4 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione
narrator is great, good, easy to listen to. story is, well, Proust. Everyone should listen or read Proust, the writing is superb, descriptions amazing, and hearing them is much different than reading. The rhythm comes through.
2 su 2 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione
Would you listen to Swann's Way again? Why?
I have listened to it repeatedly, and will again. I dread ever losing my downloaded copies, or access to download it again.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
I am in awe of the duplication of the way the mind works and how well Proust has managed to capture the feeling of wandering thoughts.There isn't really much story, just a string of vignettes as remembrances (of, as it says on the tin, time lost) tied together by introspection and fleeting philosophical statements.
I can't say I find it interesting, precisely; too much interest would ruin the effect it has on me. I find it familiar. I recognize the patterns of thought and reminiscence as if they belonged to a me who lived a completely different life. It's soothing, pleasant, anxious in places but never alarming, always mild, always faintly dreamy. I can't really vouch much for the story, however; because of its effect on me and its place in my life, I've never read or heard it all the way through. I only know it as a series of descriptions and reflections, held together by thematically-smooth transitions but never progressing forward together as any type of plot.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It makes me sleep. My extreme reaction to this book is falling asleep, usually promptly, and falling back to sleep quickly and pleasantly every time I awake during the night. This is a literally unprecedented reaction for me.
I have used this particular book, and especially this particular recording -- with Guidall's calmly-inflected, soothing voice -- as a soporific for seven years and counting. It never fails to put me to sleep. I've had multiple types of insomnia since I was an infant, and I'm now in my 40s; no pill, habit, tea, clothing, or environmental arrangement recommended by anyone from parents to doctors to sleep specialists has ever managed to put me to sleep more peacefully and reliably than this recording does.
Any additional comments?
I don't want to give the impression that I don't like this book, or this recording, by emphasizing that it puts me to sleep. I don't even want to give the impression that I find it boring, although someone who wants a bit more action (or even dialogue) would probably find it so.
The writing is masterful at achieving its goal, however terrible it is at being anything it isn't trying to be. It's a stunning tapestry of musings and recollections, loosely strung together, the internal monologue of a man looking back on his life.
The narration is outstanding, even accounting for the narrator himself being one of my personal favorites, and the narrator is ideally-suited to the tone, pace, and themes of the content.It's superb.
It's just that I have a neurological disability that makes spoken words difficult for me to understand, and after too long listening for comprehension without something to occupy my eyes and hands, my brain gives up and switches off and I go to sleep. I usually buy ebooks and audiobooks in pairs, and the "Immersion Reading" feature of Kindles makes this even easier for me. It helps me practice things that can partially compensate for my disability, like understanding certain accents, or using small gestures to help myself keep track of long, intricate sentences. Listening to audiobooks with the Kindle screen turned off are a great way for me to get to sleep, although I will wake up later in the story when the plot picks up and the narrator's voice shows appropriate excitement.
That never happens in this book. There's never really a point where it's appropriate for the narrator to raise his voice enough or speak fast enough to wake me. I drop off somewhere around waiting for Mama's goodnight kiss, or on a very bad night, the magic lantern; I wake up again in time to hear about the madeleine dunked in tea, and drop back off again. There's no need for me to set a sleep timer; the audiobook shutting off would wake me, while the soporific reading keeps me asleep all night (however lightly at points) and gives me quiet, stately scenes for my dreams to recreate when I would otherwise be in danger of waking.
The prose is lovely, and the reminiscences are honest enough to be utterly credible and meticulously detailed enough to feel as if they are my own. The narrator and narration are ideal for the content. For someone who doesn't have a sleep disability to overcome, and a hearing disability to wield against it, it would be a lovely listen. For me, though, it's a very specific and useful tool, dreamy and pleasant, and I cannot bring myself to read the book while staying awake for fear of spoiling the effect while I sleep.
How fitting that it opens on a scene of an insomniac fitfully trying to sleep through the night:
"For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say 'I’m going to sleep.' And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V...
"I would fall asleep, and often I would be awake again for short snatches only, just long enough to hear the regular creaking of the wainscot, or to open my eyes to settle the shifting kaleidoscope of the darkness, to savour, in an instantaneous flash of perception, the sleep which lay heavy upon the furniture, the room, the whole surroundings of which I formed but an insignificant part and whose unconsciousness I should very soon return to share. Or, perhaps, while I was asleep I had returned without the least effort to an earlier stage in my life, now for ever outgrown; and had come under the thrall of one of my childish terrors, such as that old terror of my great-uncle’s pulling my curls, which was effectually dispelled on the day–the dawn of a new era to me–on which they were finally cropped from my head. I had forgotten that event during my sleep; I remembered it again immediately I had succeeded in making myself wake up to escape my great-uncle’s fingers; still, as a measure of precaution, I would bury the whole of my head in the pillow before returning to the world of dreams.
"...When a man is asleep, he has in a circle round him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years, the order of the heavenly host. Instinctively, when he awakes, he looks to these, and in an instant reads off his own position on the earth’s surface and the amount of time that has elapsed during his slumbers; but this ordered procession is apt to grow confused, and to break its ranks. Suppose that, towards morning, after a night of insomnia, sleep descends upon him while he is reading, in quite a different position from that in which he normally goes to sleep, he has only to lift his arm to arrest the sun and turn it back in its course, and, at the moment of waking, he will have no idea of the time, but will conclude that he has just gone to bed. Or suppose that he gets drowsy in some even more abnormal position; sitting in an armchair, say, after dinner: then the world will fall topsy-turvy from its orbit, the magic chair will carry him at full speed through time and space, and when he opens his eyes again he will imagine that he went to sleep months earlier and in some far distant country."
It's like this book, and thus this recording, is a love letter written from one person's sleep -- and insomnia -- to another's.
1 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione
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.
3 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione