Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why read Proust

As my own life threatens to become submerged in a sea of minutiae, I thought we could all use some inspiration to continue with our reading, so here are some thoughts from Arnold Weinstein’s “Recovering Your Story” essay on Proust. (Note on Weinstein: He’s a plot spoiler! You’ve been warned.)

To assent to Proust requires rethinking who we are, where we are (in the sense of where does the inner “I” reside), what do we have, what have we lost, how we might get it back. And this mandates acknowledging a kind of absolute poverty in ourselves – in knowing and owning ourselves – that is at complete odds with all our apparent possessions, such as houses, cars, money in the bank, all those things that can be seen in a “walking mirror.”

…And whereas we might regard such writing as merely playful or cunning, the real impact of such vision transcends style altogether and moves into our own backyard: Our own lives, experiences and perceptions are multiple, kaleidoscopic. Here is the payoff: A novel that upends our own complacent certainties, teaches us to make friends with metamorphosis, shows us what a shimmering thing a life is.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dorothy W. said...

What a beautiful quotation! I like the idea that Proust teaches us to "make friends with metamorphosis." He teaches readers a kind of openness to experience.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous James Tata said...

That first italicized paragraph could almost be describing Buddhism!

12:03 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

Lovely excerpt! I am finding the novel "moves into our [my] backyard."

6:59 PM  
Anonymous trivandrum said...

2nd comment seems like a recapitulation of proust himself but for that it could never be unless the whiff of something minute and atomic that Proust would've attempeted this is anti-Proust

6:27 AM  

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