Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I started reading The Proust Project last night. The book consists of short essays by various writers writing about their favorite passage from In Search of Lost Time. I pretty much just read the introduction by André Aciman. He writes about encountering Proust for the first time which isn't necessarily the reading, but the first time a person has even heard the name. He said the memories are probably fuzzy or inaccessible for most, but trying to remember is an important part of the "Proust experience." I started thinking back and gave up because it seems that Proust has always been there and it would be impossible to separate him out.

That's just an interesting aside, what really caught my attention was this:
The novel is about intimacy, the miracle of intimacy--intimacy with others, intimacy with oneself, intimacy when we'd all but given up believing it existed--because there is also this about Proust that strikes an unmistakable chord: if intimacy is difficult to come by, it is because honesty is just as scarce, honesty with others and, above all, with oneself. One either feels this call to intimacy or one stops reading.
This passage struck me because there have already been several people here who have mentioned feelings of intimacy while reading Proust. Aciman believes the intimacy springs from a fusion between the lives of Proust and the reader. He suggests that it feels as though the novel is a novel about the reader's life, that all the reader must do is change the time and place and names. I can't say that I feel as though I am reading my life, but I can say that Proust seems to have infused my life. His benevolent presence seems to be everywhere.

For the record, Aciman's favorite passage is the one I coincidentally mentioned the other day, the one with the moonlight walk and the Telegraph Office and Hubert Robert. Aciman sees the passage to being about time and being lost and how being lost creates a timeless moment. I hope the rest of The Proust Project is as good as Aciman's introduction.


Blogger Dorothy W. said...

That sounds like a great book! I like the idea of taking a passage and analyzing it closely. It feels to me like reading Proust analyze his life/his narrator's life so closely teaches me how to analyze my own. My life doesn't fuse with his, but I can take on some of his ways of seeing life.

7:28 PM  

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